Cars play an important role in our lives, and since we spend a lot of time with them, it's only natural that we learn a lot from the ownership.
Here are ten golden rules from your experience:
10.) It's all about keeping your momentum
And you don't even need a Miata to learn this. oldirtybootz has a Focus:
My Focus has taught me this. It's underpowered, has a slushbox, and leans like a boat in stormy seas so driving it fast is all about keeping my momentum and following a good line.
9.) Having spares in the car is a good idea
For Sweden was remarkably patient with his Grand Am:
My old 1991 Grand Am taught me to always bring extra coolant. And extra motor oil. And extra transmission fluid. And an extra coil pack housing. And extra coils. And an extra A/C pulley clutch. And that unplugging the torque converter clutch solenoid can keep the car from stalling at the stop light. And to pop the hood on hot days so the heat doesn't kill the ignition. And to always drive on the far right or left lane on the freeway. And to carry enough speed on the freeway to coast up an off ramp. And to invest in a roadside service plan. And to check if any badges ever fell off at the car wash. And that it's only worth $350 at public auction.
Fantastic wheels though.
8.) Automatics can make sense
BrtStlnd would agree that the new Porsche 911 GT3 won't suffer in a traffic jam:
My car(s) have taught me that manuals, while clearly more fun in certain driving situations, are not worth the effort in a DD when heavy traffic is part of your daily commute.
Say what you will, but clutch/brake/feather gas/clutch/clutch/brake/gas/shift 1st to 2nd/2nd to 1st/brake/clutch for 45 minutes each way is not how I enjoy spending the first hour of my day. I'll never buy a DD with one.
7.) Looks don't equal smiles
This is what pure loves feels like according to StreetsideStig:
I've learned that looks don't equal smiles. Almost two years ago, I bought my WRX wagon from a fellow Jalop in my area, and I loved it. I wanted to own it forever. But it was my only car. I rent, and with limited space (and very limited money), I wasn't able to have a daily driver "beater" car to get me to work and back in order to keep my wagon nice.
It didn't come with a great paint job. Apparently it was done up as a show car three owners ago, and they must have had a great relationship with Maaco. The sun has been chewing on the rooftop clearcoat, and the rocks have been picking away at the front bumper finish.
It came with sedan fenders, so you scarcely have to open the hood to get inside. The crappy aftermarket exhaust (which nevertheless sounds at least 18 times better than the stock one) got too friendly with the rear bumper at some point. The headlights are yellowed, the door seals are hardening, and the tint has gone all purple. Worst of all, I lost the grille when I crashed into a watery ditch last year.
Of course, I'd love to put a grand into its appearance. I'd love to spend several weeks stripping it down to bare metal, repainting it in a blinding metal-fleck black. I'd love to have the tint redone and the little body imperfections straightened out.
But at this point I simply can't afford it. I have neither the time, nor the money, nor the workspace. And I have no regrets about driving it every day. "But you'll ruin it!" you say. "It needs to be garage kept! What about the future!? WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?"
No, I won't think about the children, because I plan to keep this car until the day I die, no matter how crappy it looks by then. At some point I'll have the resources to make it beautiful again, but until then, I can only keep it clean and serviced, and I'm happy to use it as it was designed- for making me smile. Every single day.
6.) Cars are honest beasts
Especially older ones:
Vintage cars are not unlike significant others. If you treat her right, she'll stick with you forever. If you abuse her and ignore her needs, she'll leave you stranded on the side of the road. Some cars are better choices than others from the beginning, just like humans; choose carefully. Also like significant others, some cars bare the scars of previous abuse and neglect. It's up to you to decide whether you should try to mend those wounds in hopes of long-term happiness or to pass and leave that for another person to worry about.
It's actually one of the most honest relationships that you'll ever have. Choose wisely and respect your chosen partner, be it human or steel.
5.) Power isn't everything
Automatch- the Avanthusiast wanted a Camaro, ended up with a Prelude. No regrets:
When I was 19 I wanted a Camaro SS more than anything else. I found one and was quickly dissuaded when I got a quote from the insurance company, coverage on the 96' SS was $6500/yr. Cost of 96' SS $6500. I ended up with a '95 Honda Prelude Si. That car taught me the to appreciate a well-balanced vehicle and that there is more to driving than MOAR POWER!
Not my car pictured but appropriate since it is TE37 Thursday over on Oppositelock.
4.) It isn't good enough, and never will be
We keep going because we want more. The same applies to cars:
I've learned that it isn't good enough, it never will be, and once you come to peace with that you're never going to want it any other way.
Every night that I wipe the grease off my hands and shut off the light on another project well done, I wake to a morning with thoughts of "well, the suspension is getting a bit on in years... that's not a huge job.... and I don't have any service records showing the diff or tranny fluid's ever been flushed, that won't take me more than an hour or two... and while I'm at it, I should really flush and bleed the brakes and the clutch lines... and I've never tried wet-sanding, I should really play around with that and get rid of those surface scratches; she could be a bit shinier, really.... and...."
I was like this when I was a broke high school and college/grad student, I'm like this now, and (if my dad is any indication), I'll be like this when I'm retired. I used to dream of being able to afford perfect pretty things that didn't require anything from me but the ability to enjoy them; now I find I derive as much pleasure from fixing and fiddling with things as I do from actually using them.
Now, instead of dreaming of being able to afford perfect pretty things, I dream of being able to afford a giant garage and workshop, and of being able to afford the time to spend in that giant garage and workshop.
Because it's not perfect, it never will be, and that's fucking awesome.
3.) Old cars are not for everyone
Old cars are great fun, but choosing one from the nineties offers better reliability and cheaper parts. JEM plays it safe:
After owning two old/classic vehicle from the 60s (AMC Rambler, AMC Javelin), I've come to realize that I just don't want to deal with owning an old car. Combined with all the other vehicles I've owned, I've realized that the ideal vehicle for me is one built in the 1990s. Still enough power to be fun, enough modern bits to be comfortable, not enough modern bits to make working/repairing it annoying, and yet still just a bit retro to make me a touch nostalgic.
Which means I'm selling my 1969 Javelin to get a 94-99 Miata. All my friends think I'm nuts but at least I can comfortably DD a Miata.
2.) Sometimes bad is good
Vertec put up this explanation, along with a picture of a DeLorean.
Sometimes the flawed things that fuel your unexplained attractions make you happiest in life. Quirky is good and life is too short to drive something boring.
1.) Life is too short
Damn it, RXEight is right!
Life is too damn short to make stupid compromises. I bought what I wanted and I am fine living with an uncomfortable, impractical car. Because carving corners and hitting that second cam makes me smile every time I get in it. Even when im driving to work in the rain like this morning.
This is one way to achieve happiness.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Top Photo Credit: Kennenberger D. Blockenheim