The long, dark and cold days of February are ahead. Thankfully February is a short month that
The best man at my wedding and I met my sophomore year in high school. My first car, a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, would often be parked in the front row of the student parking lot. From my math class you could look out onto the lot and see all of the cars. Unbeknownst to me my soon to be best friend was sitting right behind me. Before class one day he asks:
‘Is that your Mustang out there?’
With a lot of pride,
‘Yes, yes it is.’
By the end of the school year he would be my best friend who I would share many car adventures and my life. He and I are still friends and even though we live 1,400 miles apart we meet annually to watch a race together.
After high school I got a job making nearly a whole $15,000 a year so I was ‘pretty rich’. With all that money I bought a slightly used 1983 ½ Dodge Shelby Charger; blue with a silver stripe. It handled like a slot car built with genuine Chrysler quality (i.e. the car ran great but the body and interior fell apart on a regular basis). While out on a drive up a very fun mountain road what should approach but a 1983 ½ Dodge Shelby Charger in the reverse color scheme, silver with a blue stripe. A flash of the headlights and wave and we passed each other. Arriving at the top of the mountain a few
minutes later that silver Charger appeared and parked right next to mine. An hour later we were racing together down the mountain and into a friendship that is special to me to this very day. Weekends were spent together, car races attended, passing of cars on the highway one right after the other just for fun and even trying to get license plates that said ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ so we could pass people to see the look on their faces. A cheap Dodge began a priceless friendship.
Fast forward to a new century, a new part of the country taking a new driver to an SCCA teen driver event and a new friend is made. The director of the event, a car guy to the bone who autocrosses so much he has a car specifically for that purpose alone! We chat, we talk about cars and racing, and nearly 4 years later I am still a volunteer in the program and have been made a part of the SCCA family. I have made a good friend that I know I can trust and rely on. A car, a teenager in a Ford Freestyle and a great friend – I would say pretty good event overall.
2011 and my search for my vintage BMW begins. Many posts on the different forums, numerous questions, lots of searches and I run across a very special BMW 1600 with a phenomenal motor and a just downright cool interior! I am interested and call the owner. We talk about the car, and cars, for an hour and soon discover that we have that hard to describe ‘kindred car spirit’. I actually ended up purchasing a different car but my new friend still helped me get the one I bought. Before I knew it we were e-mailing each other regularly, hanging out at the annual 2002 event in Arkansas and meeting up when I am in town. Our friendship has developed over the past 4 years to the point that in the upcoming week he and I are taking a road trip from Dallas to Denver in his beautiful 1973 BMW 2002. An old car makes a new friend, in fact a whole community of friends, in a state I don’t even live in.
There are so many other people in my life that stem from my obsession with cars. With limited space I could only highlight a few.
I know that it takes more than just a car to become true friends, but a car sure is a great way to find those people. Maybe it is the car spirit or the love of cars but I find that often my car friends are people I trust and rely on after knowing them for just a short time.
I admit, I am obsessed about cars. I can’t shut my mind off about cars. I apologize to my friends and family about my inability to not talk about cars. Now as I spend the dark and cold month of February reflecting I wonder, do I love cars? Do I love the car culture? Or do I love the relationships cars have put in my life? It really is all of the above, I just don’t know which one, if any, ranks highest.
That’s the thing about a car, this mechanical thing, that I am convinced has a soul, goes beyond simply parts and transportation and becomes a part of your life as it continues to introduce you to new people. No wonder we often sigh, and sometimes cry, when we sell that car that has so many memories that go with it.