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Spinning My Tires   is one man's view of the world of cars. Random thoughts, ideas and comments pop up here, all of them related to owning, driving and restoring cars. I've been doing this car thing as long as I can remember, and have enjoyed a great many car-related experiences, some of which I hope to share with you here. And I always have an opinion one way or another. Enjoy.

E-mails are welcomed--if you have thoughts of your own to share, please send them.

Additional Spinning My Tires editorials can be found on the Archives page.


1/7/07

Ode to the Forlorn

What is it about that forlorn old beater sitting hidden behind a garage or in a field by a barn that always catches our eyes? Do we think we can rescue some heap from rusty oblivion? Are we deluding ourselves into believing that it can be restored for next to nothing, leaving us with an extremely rare car for no investment? Or is it just the joy of discovery?

Iím as guilty as the next guy of all of this, even though I know that the days of finding a lost Duesenberg sitting unused since the owner left for the war are looooong gone (well, since Jay Leno found the last one last year, I guess they're not that long gone). You may find some Fords and Chevys, maybe even the odd post-war Packard lying around, but the really amazing finds are few and far between. 

Case in point: near my motherís house thereís a gas station, one of those places where there are still two functioning service bays and gas pumps with wheels instead of digital numbers. In front of this gas station, there are always two or three complete cars for sale, and once in a while theyíre interesting. Most recently there was an early Ď70s Maserati that looked complete enough, but usually itís just a used car. Anyway, for the past few months, thereís been a red Mercedes 450SL roadster sitting out back that catches my eye every single time.

Now I really donít want a Mercedes roadster. I never have and never will. In fact, I can't think of many cars I want less than a mass-produced Mercedes roadster. And if I did want one, every single other 450SL out there is in better condition than this one. Itís been sitting outside without a top for as long as Iíve seen it, the tires are flat, the trunk lid is missing and, of course, the windshield is broken. Heck, I donít even know if it is even for sale or if someone is just using it to keep a presumably better specimen on the road. Yet still I look. Every. Single. Time.

To be honest, I donít think I can stop looking. I always look when conditions are right: country road, old barn or garage, some overgrowth and a big field. I just get a vibe that perhaps the Grail is near. I don't know what it is, or what it looks like, or even if I want it, but I sure want to find it. So what am I looking for? Certainly not another project.

I think itís just basic human nature to be hopeful, to always believe that there is something better just around the corner. Itís the basest form of curiosity because forlorn automobiles stir the imagination. Thereís a romanticized dream in all of us about that perfect lost car. What does it look like in your mind? 

What do you see when I say the words ďbarn findĒ? I, for one, see a dusty barn full of hay bales and a dirt floor. There are holes in the roof with sunlight filtering down through dusty air. Thereís the smell of motor oil and mothballs. In my dream, the car isnít under a cover, but rather sitting in the middle of a barn with a few tools and boxes stacked on solid, but dented and poorly painted sheet metal. There are no hubcaps, a door is ajar and there's a BB hole or two in the windows. The steering wheel is worn smooth from three generations of kids playing in the front seat. The seats themselves are tattered with clumps of stuffing puffing out of split seams. The hood is open and the air cleaner is missing. It has 4 mismatched tires, three of them flat, but itís all thereÖ

Do you see it too? Notice that I didn't mention what kind of car it was. I don't think it matters. That, I think, is what keeps us looking. I'll remain ever hopeful that I stumble onto something amazing, or even mildly interesting, and I'll be in a position to acquire it. Even if I never find such a thing, perhaps the fun is in the searching, not the getting. I'll keep looking, just like I know you will, too.

See you next month!


E-mail me at toolman8@sbcglobal.net

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Last modified on 01/09/2007

Thanks, Fidget!