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You Really Like This Car, Don't You?

Sometimes, the troubles can’t erase the history.

Andy Bolig - September 13, 2012 10:00 AM

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That question came up as I slid myself back behind the steering wheel, returning from under the hood of my daily-driver Corvette.

When we purchased the car, it was in pieces and the fact that it runs is a testament to the work that friends and I had put into it. However, if we wanted a factory original car, it would have been a LOT less work to simply buy one. Since we had a clean slate, we decided to make it what we wanted. That included modifications. Ask any hot-rodder and they’ll tell you that making changes from factory stock will open the door to a myriad of issues. I realized that and we pressed forward with the build.

Now, we were sitting next to the highway due to a faulty ignition module. We had planned ahead when modifying the harness and connected it up so that should this ever happen, we could simply move some connections around and bypass the ignition box. A quick switch of connections and the incoherent component was bypassed, but the moment still made an impression on my friend. The fact that I’ve got almost 46,000 miles on my car since its completion, and that I just drove it 1,100 miles in one day just to get there didn’t seem to lighten the situation or instill a feeling of durability with my friend. Sure, he’s seen the times when I’ve fiddled with various components, both mechanical and electric, trying to correct some little irritating characteristic. I REALLY do think that my car chooses to act up in front of him for some reason or another!

Either way, he saw how, at times, the relationship between auto and enthusiast can be a one-way street, and not always flowing in the owner’s favor. He had to be wondering why we would subject ourselves to such situations when there were clearly more dependable options? His question was pregnant with the insinuation.

More than simply the feeling of torque, sinking you into the seat as the vehicle lunges forward, or the thrill of speed and handling, there’s also the satisfaction that what stands before you is a creation of your own hands. Yeah, I built it. But, for some unknown reason, I’ve never really trusted my mechanic. Situations like this only help to cement my uneasiness with his abilities.

My friend picked up on that vibe as well. After that little incident, the car continued to operate as intended. No more stalls along the interstate, no more quick “Mayday!” dives into a parking lot before we lost all momentum. The car did exactly what we wanted it to do. Actually, the car performed swimmingly for the rest of the trip, which included about another 1,200 miles before week’s end. That really puts the short roadside stop into perspective. But, it didn’t prevent him from asking the question that made me think about why we do this to ourselves.

I’m starting to view a warranty as less of an expense and more of a benefit, but that would mean that I’d have to purchase a vehicle made in this century. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. On the other hand, look at all the advancements that have been made in autos over the years. Don’t think that all of them have come from the manufacturer. Many were made by folks, much like ourselves, that “couldn’t leave well enough alone!”

Sure, they had their share of issues, but in the end, the automotive world is a better, faster, safer place. They got into cars for the very same reason that we did: they like cars, and that fueled them to press through the adversities and forge a way that many others might follow. Their enthusiasm kept them going, even if their cars didn’t. Although it didn’t come with an easy 800 number that would make all their problems go away, they liked what they were doing.

You might even say that just like you and me, they loved fiddling with cars, enjoyed problem solving and reaped the rewards of pressing through them. In some of the more extreme situations, you MIGHT be able to say, they really liked the cars, even if the cars didn’t return the favor.

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