Being a Petrolhead/Gearhead, I’m a firm believer that amongst your many possessions, cars pretty much achieve a certain transcendence; they go further than just mere possessions – to the point that we start talking about them like a family member or a best friend. Note that this will only be true for those of us who love cars. We often talk this way about exotic classics that are indeed automotive legends – Jaguar E-Types, Ferraris, etc.; with their strange design quirks and features lending to the idea that these vehicles have personalities, hearts, soul – thus adding to their appeal. For the discerning collector, looking for that rare investment, one of the things that makes certain cars special are their stories – of the owner, the car itself, etc. While it is true that certain motors will get that legendary status and be the stuff of dreams, what about the legends of our own garages?..
I believe that the main thing about a car is the story. The story behind it. It is what will give our moderately humble motors, their place in our lives and hearts.
Growing up, our family was not that well off. My father have never owned a classy Jag or luxury car in his entire life. The only really classy car I’ve ever seen him drive was someone else’s Jaguar XJ. However if you talk to him about cars, there is one that he will constantly reminise about; like talking about a long lost friend.
Aptly nicknamed “Mazi-Boy”, this off-white 1983 Mazda 323, has nothing note-worthy. Yet, in our house it was like a faithful little dog; that kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny. It looks may have resembled scrambled eggs, but Oh, how my dad loved that car. Much like a little dog, that car was a winner of hearts. I remember how a couple of my dad’s friends would borrow it and whilst returning it, talking about how great it was compared with their higher end motors.
When I was 12, I remember stealing it one night for a tiny joyride. It drove surprisingly well and handled amazingly; even though its suspension felt like jelly. Of course, being my first driving experience, I really had no reference to compare it to. Probably it was just the thrill of being behind the wheel for the 1st time.
Such an impression it had on my dad that when finally it gave up the ghost, my dad went in and bought a new model. Honestly, the second one didn’t have the same magic. Even today, in conversations, we never refer to that car as “it” – always “he”.
This is something that cannot be explained. It can only be felt. If to you, cars are only a means of transportation, chances are you have never felt what I am talking about and if you have never felt it, you will probably never know, you will not understand. You probably won’t understand what I am about to say next either.
There are cars have a certain X factor. They don’t have to be all that great. These are the cars that just win hearts. The more time you spend driving it, you feel it taking on some kind of personality of its own. This is what makes motoring what it is… Sometimes that presence is felt by everyone; other times it is just something personal in between you and the motor. It is this X factor and the stories it leads up to, that truly gives any car a sort of Automotive Transcendence; instantly transforming it from a machine to something more.
My first car was an Alfa Romeo 156. In its spec, it was a premium sedan with a sporting pedigree. Yet, if you hear the number of stories I had with it and many time it was in the workshop, you believe that it was quite a lemon. But that car had the ‘X’ factor. Every time you got in it and drove it, the way it made you feel, was simply everything. I didn’t care that the equivalent BMW or Mercedes was more reliable or handled better; to me, it felt like the best car on the road.
So there are a number of factors that make cars achieve automotive transcendence – their stories, their magic; and it all ties in with those that own them. This should illustrate what I am talking about..
Recently came across videos posted on youtube of a program called Car S.O.S. The premise of the show is nothing new. I’m pretty sure that you many have heard of the show Overhaulin and the fantastic custom creations of Chip Foose; done in honor of well deserving people. However the stories behind the people and their vehicles in Car S.O.S. seem to go beyond that. Some of the stories really had me in tears.
I wish I had links to some of the videos to show you – especially the one of the R33 skyline. The Nissan Skyline is a boy-racer’s dream machine. Not certainly a classic. It is an automotive legend, but to the connoisseur, hardly worth anyone’s effort. Produced in its thousands, you often think why would anyone want to save something that is so common. The answer, the story behind it. Like my dad’s little Mazda, this Skyline is in no way a major classic. But this particular car has a value that goes well beyond its market price. That alone transcends it; that alone is its X-factor.
Think about the cars in your garage, your dad’s garage.. Think about their features, their quirks. Now think about the memories they hold; the stories they could tell, the adventures you had – and that is where you will find their automotive transcendence.