Pin-Ups: Dreams

When I was 15 years old, I was a magazine junkie. Specifically, I was a car magazine junkie. I literally collected a year or so of car magazines, mostly modification mags that detailed tuning and ground-effects for cars that would become unrecognizable due to the aftermarket work. There were Hondas that resembled BMWs and Nissans that looked a tad bit Italian. Regardless, they caught my attention, and, of course, I had my favorites. It wasn’t the sound these cars would make, nor the colors or blonde-bombshell models leaning on them that caught my eye: it was the shape. I would just look at the overall shape and admire.

I remember one I was digging around in my teenage room which housed my massive magazine collection, I found an old pin-up car poster I had when I was younger: a Ferrari F40. It was Corsa Red of course; the stuff of legends. Now being quite a bit older, I can appreciate that work of art so much more; but, specifically I still admire the F40’s shape. You see, with the tuned Japanese stuff, though the ground-effects and the noises added to the overall packaging and shape, the small details had not been accounted for. It is the small details that add extreme character to a car’s overall design and performance. I remember looking at a highly modified Toyota Supra and then at my poster-Ferrari F40. What I though had looked like something similar to an Italian beauty in the Toyota, upon second glance, looked nothing like one at all. The favor went to the F40. It had the “drape” effect of the body (you know, that thing where the entire sculpture as if God had placed the metal and draped it over a certain frame). It had the noise (not fabricated but engineered through and through). It had the overall shape with the amazing small details. It was the dream; it was the ultimate fantasy car for me. I had taken that pin-up car down years earlier at that time in lieu of something more grown up, but after looking at it, I realized that I wish I hadn’t; and, I wish I had appreciated the time it was on the wall more. I could and would just stare at that poster for the afternoon dreaming of what it must be like to own such an exotic specimen. I dreamed of feeling the turbo kicking in; the smell of leather and oil; the noise of fiery combustion; all of this in a red, beautiful shape. Forget the Skylines, S2000s, and Supras: the F40 was and still is what dreams are made of.

 

What was/is your pin-up car? I would love to know!

 

– JRB, Editor-in-Chief

Car Season – Your First Car

Hello, folks. It has been a while since I have posted something on here. For this, I sincerely apologize as work seems to take hold of time, and it doesn’t like to share. For those who actually read the blog, I am very grateful for your diligence and patience. This blog is a work in progress, and while I have aspirations of where it needs to go, your continued readership and attention is what keeps this thing going.

With that out of the way, I want to jump into a topic I have been meaning to bring up for a while now: Why do we  fall so deeply in-love with automobiles? And off of that, more specifically: Why do we love our first automobile so very much? After all, a car or truck is simply a machine with a purpose, but as has been mentioned in previous posts, engineering with a certain purpose in mind can create some shiny, beautiful metal as well as a personality to that particular vehicle.

The other day, as “car season” was beginning, I went to help a friend as he celebrated car season with the usual wrenching in the garage on his Camaro. By helping, I should clarify: I sat there amused by the ever-so-often howling of profanities and cursing toward the vehicle by my friend. Needless to say, it was interesting to see him work so diligently on his Camaro, yet he did not seem to be enjoying it much at all. As I sat amused in a chair in his garage, he would interject certain statistics regarding his particular Camaro: he built the transmission himself, he re-did the entire wiring of the car, he put in countless hours wrenching in the motor, he repaired doors, dashes, exhausts, etc… He had even began touching on the lights, the paint, and other smaller details. All of this, of course, was impressive, particularly the reworking of the transmission and the rewiring. After I stared blankly at him for a moment after he enumerated what he had done to the car (as I was confused as to why he put so much effort and work into a late 90s Camaro), he spoke the magic phrase that put it all together: “It was my first car.”

Eureka! It all made sense now. After he stated this, I then began to ponder: What is it about of first car that makes us so smitten with them? He wrenched and toiled endlessly on that Camaro and will continue to do so, at least I hope, for a very long time. It wasn’t anything particularly amazing or astonishing to me, but to him, that Camaro represents every car aspiration as a kid that was realized, imperfectly or not, when he obtained the vehicle. It symbolizes all that he loves about cars into what, in his eyes is, an imperfect car relationship that is more rewarding to him than any other relationship with a vehicle. I envied him deeply for his devotion to his first car; his first true expression of personal freedom and deep passion for all things automobile. I remember my first car so very well, but after it was totaled in a wreck not caused by myself, it was dearly missed and still is to this day. I remember as clear as day that car being hoisted upon the flatbed of a wrecker, and I also remember clearly the small tears that started to come down my face. It was a very sad day for me; it was if I had lost a dear friend.

First cars are special. No, they may not be gorgeous or be the quickest or toughest, but they aided us in exploring the world around us and developing our own sense of individuality and freedom. We owe it to our first cars, if you happen to still have it in your possession, to maintain their integrity. We all need to strive to be like my friend. Though the car creates deep anger and toil for him many times over in his garage (sometimes at my amusement), I know the harsh words and frustrations are rooted in passion and care. This is passion for the automobile, and that is something we all should have if we are truly car enthusiasts.

 

– JRB Editor-in-Chief of The Spirited Drive

 

I would love to know your story behind your first car/vehicle and what it was! Comment below!

From Race-Car to Your Car – What is the Connection?

For the past several days, I have been entertaining myself with various questions related to the automotive world. Usually these questions lead to nothing more than my tediously drooling over certain vehicles on the internet that I will never have the pleasure of owning, let along drive. But, along my rapid questioning covering a certain vehicle segment, I decided to gather some information from others as to their thoughts. Besides, more input from other points of view can really add depth and clarity to a discussion, even if that discussion started off as a mere wonder.

As I began discussing sport and performance in today’s market with a friend of mine yesterday and today, the discussion lead to the racetrack. What is the relationship between the track and the road? What is the relationship between those highly-tuned, screaming race machines and our conventional road-car? These were the questions that lead to other discussions as to motor-sport history, motor-sport race types, etc…

Essentially, as I firmly believe, the new technology used and developed for the track eventually trickles down into the cars we drive everyday. At least that is what I believe should be the aim of those companies that take part in racing. Examples that came to mind immediately were the new Audi autos, the Corvette, a Porsche here and there, the BMW M-Cars, and the new Mercedes-Benz models. While there are many, many other vehicles and brands that take part in racing, these handful are some of the most lusted-for vehicles on the planet at the moment. Audi has dominated Le Mans basically since the year 2000, the Corvette seems unstoppable in Grand-AM and ALMS (American Le Mans Series), Porsche used to own Le Mans and still participates in several Cup-Car, Le Mans-style series, and other championships with a lot of success, BMW basically stomps everyone in DTM racing and has the touring-car thing down to a “t” since they basically invented it, and Mercedes-Benz AMG has absolutely obliterated the competition this year in Formula 1. How do those cars we see on Sunday sell cars on Monday? Is there even a connection? Which race series provides a better test-bed for road-car production?

As my friend and I pondered and discussed these questions, we realized that there are many companies that make fantastic cars that are not bred on the track. But in all honesty, the breeding and testing on the track helps the production models in some area. A great performer on the road does not necessarily have to be conceived on the track with tons of engineers, but every car bred on the track is a great performer. Basically its one of those situations similar to “that every Bourbon is a Whiskey, but not every Whiskey is a Bourbon” kind of things.

Le Mans-style racing is all about endurance, fuel management, durability; F1 is all about speed, grip, tire testing, engine building, etc…; and DTM is all about the “rub” while trying to out-maneuver your opponent. These are just 3 of the most popular types of racing today (sorry NASCAR, but snooze for me), but they each have some sort of development that has trickled down to their production models if they so have them.

What do you think? Do you agree with the concluded assessment? I would like to hear from you! Thanks for reading and enjoy!

 

– JRB, Editor-in-Chief of The Spirited Drive

Car Culture in Small-Town America – Fulton, KY Banana Festival 2014

So the past two months have been festival season here in Northwest Tennessee and Western Kentucky. Every small town seems to have a festival of some sort whether it honors the soybean, the banana, or a lot of corn. Essentially, when it comes to festivals in the rural area that I grew up, their namesakes stem from a harvest produce or some tradition. Along with a vast array of festivals that are named after many different types of vegetables, festive-events bring about certain things: smoked foods that smell awesome, contests, parades, carnival rides, etc… But what I am most interested in when it comes to these shin-digs are the car shows. And it just so happens that my home-town has a fairly good car show every year.

Row of Corvettes

Row of Corvettes

Now, growing up in a rural area, most kids my age that were into automobiles glorified and praised all things American whether it is the corvette, an old hot-rod in granddad’s barn, or pop’s 1950s pickup. I enjoy seeing these brutes as well as many owners have lavished them with tensile and love, and that, whether you are a fan of American cars, classic hot-rods, or imports, is something that can be appreciated. The love and passion that these car owners have towards their pride-and-joy is overwhelming and fantastic. While I prefer other vehicles rather than classic hot-rods or American vehicles as a matter of personal taste, I am first and foremost a car person, so I can appreciate the Americana that comes out at these local festivals. Excellent and noteworthy cars involve engineering, thoughtful and purposefully-built ideas, and passion to become a reality. That is the common thread that enables someone who is a car person (like myself) to relate to other car folks who worship old GMs, Fords, and many others, and the reason why I can happily spend my afternoon browsing some great American automobilia and appreciate what I see and the people I converse with. I get to see classic engineering, old friends, people who are really into their American beauties, and observe the fact that a car-culture is alive and well in small-town America. Being a proud American, it makes me even more proud that classic American automobiles are still popular today.

 

– JRB, Editor-in-Chief of The Spirited Drive