From the Car Guy - Nov 10
By Lance Lambert
One of the last issue’s jumble of words told the story of the acquisition of my current garage. The garage, fortunately, is located close to some other “car guys” garages.
The closest in location is Rick, the proud owner of a 1986 Jaguar convertible. Rick owns a very rare car; a dependable Jaguar. The cost of Jaguar ownership recalls a line Woody Allen said when he was playing the role of a stock broker in a movie. “I invest people’s money until they don’t have any left”. Rick’s convertible seems to be the exception to the rumor and the Lambert Automotive Museum will be very happy to relieve him of ownership should he be convinced by my constant question of “How’s it running?” that tactfully hides the subliminal message that his Jaguar will likely self destruct at any moment.
Just up the street is Jim whose collection includes a 1949 Mercury, 1957 T-Bird and a plethora (that means a lot of something, it’s not the name of a car) of mysterious vehicles that show up one day and then vanish like the morning mist. Jim is the kind of car collector that says “Oh that (fill in the blank), it’s just something that I’ve had forever.” The “just something” is usually a car that I’d be willing to sell my grandmother to pirates in exchange for ownership.
To the south is Joe who is using his computer building skills to construct a reproduction Shelby Cobra. Some of the locals stop by his garage on occasion to lend a helping hand in putting together what seems like a really big model car kit. Joe usually spends the following day repairing any damage that is the result of my “help”. He has some big dogs that always bark at me as he says, at the same time that he’s filling my pockets with live squirrels, “Don’t worry, the dogs don’t bite.”
Heading north finds the curious in front of John’s house which is usually surrounded with a bevy (again not a type of car) of hot rods. Someday, when I grow up, I want to be just like John. He, unlike his neighbor to the south, knows which end of a screwdriver to hold, and that there are tools other than a hammer to use for the majority of auto repairs. John drives the finest 1936 Ford roadster in the galaxy and frequently the entire neighborhood can hear him driving down the street. My response is charging out of the house like an eleven year old kid when he hears the Good Humor ice cream truck coming down the street.
There have been a couple of car guys that have left the area in the past few years. I’d like to think that they were just moving on with their lives and that the move was not the result of my constant dropping by to visit and ask “What are you doing? Are you going to work on your car today? Can I help?”
One of these vacating (fleeing?) neighbors was Jerry, the king of all things Thunderbird. He owned two T-Birds, a 1957 and 1966, that were sterling examples of how cool these cars are. You would often see these vintage vehicles at various local parades and car shows with the chrome shining as bright as the smile on Jerry’s face. He probably moved because his garage was no longer big enough to hold all of his car show trophies. Or perhaps he was tired of cleaning off the snoopy neighbor’s nose prints from the garage door window.
Bob, another former neighbor, was more of my kind of car guy. He recognized that the world was full of very desirable cars that can be purchased for next to nothing. My dad once traded a car for a box of chocolates and a bowling ball, but that’s a story for another time. Bob’s “bowling ball” cars were often the lesser models manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation. Bob would take a bland and plain model, add new paint and upholstery, rebuild the engine, and end up with a car that, like my college girlfriend Sonja, was really beautiful once you took a closer look.
So what’s the point of this tour bus through your scribe’s neighborhood? Seek and ye shall find? Fences, and garages, make good neighbors? Every village has an idiot? I think it’s a warm and fuzzy story about how a person can enjoy the company of like minded people located in the home turf. I just hope that they don’t sic their dogs on you or flee the neighborhood in search of some privacy.