First Thought

When Things Go Wrong

Larry Jewett - August 16, 2012 10:00 AM


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There was an irony about what I saw at the 2012 Carlisle Ford Nationals presented by Gumout Performance Products that wasn’t lost on me.

In a massive area where thousands of cars were gathered door handle to door handle, the objective is often to get your car noticed. You want to come up with something unique or different that makes the passers-by stop and spend a little time looking at your car.

The same holds true in the car corral, but the objective is slightly different. Here, you want someone to stop and look at your car with the idea of making it their car.

It was in the car corral that I saw something “unique” that I hope I never see again.

It was a beautiful 1966 Mustang that now had some flaws. The flaws came when the car was involved in an accident. My mind’s eye could imagine what the car looked like before the terrible incident. My real vision saw a car that had been plowed into from behind, propelling it into something else to cause front end damage too.

This is not what you expect to see at a car show. You expect to see the quest for perfection. You do not expect damaged goods.

According to the information, the car had been completely restored in 2010. The interior looked great and the metal parts that weren’t twisted looked fine. It was in 2011 when the misfortune occurred and now the owner was trying to get back some of his investment.

A fellow observer pointed out that he was going to erase the pictures from his camera’s memory after he showed them to a buddy back home. That’s all well and good, but technology hasn’t come up with a way to erase them from our minds. I tried to drown them out by going out into the show field to look at the “normal” cars. It worked for a little while, but my mind kept drifting back to that damaged Mustang. It didn’t help when I saw one of the Shelby club members that had apparently had an on-track incident at the Summit Point Raceway Park outing the day before. I tried to imagine the level of disappointment the owners had to have felt. Circumstances like these can make a person give up the hobby, but I hope that didn’t happen in either case.

The irony got even more “ironic” when I came home. Two days after my return, my project car was involved in a traffic accident. Another family member was driving since the project was a double duty (project/daily driver) car and the person in front of them stopped. The brakes worked fine, but the distance wasn’t what it needed to be. The end result was a collision where the damage exceeded the value, even with the new convertible top we installed. You have that installation story a little later in this magazine. My ownership of the new top lasted two weeks.

It can all be gone in a flash. Classic car insurers do everything they can to replace the loss, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. We have all heard (and now seen) horror stories of accidents and theft and all the bad things that can happen. We should just enjoy the good times while we have them. Cherish the hours you spend on your car. Enjoy it in any way you can.