Passing of the Keys

Recently, I purchased a beautiful blue 1969 Camaro Z/28. A car I never thought I would own in my early 20’s. At the time I was like most Gearheads; always looking to buy, but never having the money. One day, my family and I visited a vintage car dealership just to get an eye full of all the dream cars I couldn’t afford. Although painful, it was still fun to window shop for Mustangs, GTO’s, Bel Airs, etc. After seeing all the overly priced cars we were preparing to leave and as I walked out the building this Camaro stopped me dead in my tracks with a sense of love at first sight. It was exactly how I wanted a 69 Camaro to be, blue with white rally stripes, mag chrome wheels, jacked up rear-end, and of course a Hurst 4-speed bolted to a hot engine. Naturally, I had to speak to the owner and get a closer view, and Mr. Rodney Goodhill was the man behind the wheel.

The Goodhill family told us the story behind the car, rescued from a barn, brought back to life by Mr. Rod and having the car be a part of the Goodhill family for nearly 20 years. Nothing adds more value to a car than the story behind it and their story made the little blue Camaro seem priceless. The Camaro haunted my dreams so much that 2 weeks later I was signing papers for a loan in order to buy it. Now, Mr. Rod restored the car from ground up, on his own, so the car was built to his own personal taste and detail. What amazed me was that everything he had done to the car was what I dreamed of doing to a first gen Camaro. I saw a lot of me in Mr. Rod, like looking in a mirror 30 years in the future; we were both Gearheads with similar tastes and personality. Driving the car home was an adventure since I had never driven a car that was such an attention getter, the Camaro is a rolling celebrity.

Now the reason why Mr. Rod was selling his beloved muscle car was because he was battling cancer and wanted to use the money to buy his wife a new car. Tragically, I learned the other day that Mr. Rod lost his battle and passed away on June 15th. His wife, Mrs. Goodhill, mentioned that he was happy that his car was going to be in good hands which gave him peace of mind in that aspect. Her words got me thinking which leads me to the second part of this article.

Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things a person will go through in their lifetime, and it does not matter what your beliefs are when it comes to the afterlife because in the end we all feel the same way. When Gearheads exit the highway of life to the big scenic route in the sky, they leave behind friends and family, of course, but they also leave behind their cars as orphans hoping that someone will care for them the same way they did. Unfortunately, not every car gets to find a good home and will end up sitting in a garage or barn for decades or gets sold to a wheeler dealer, but some cars do find good caretakers. I like to think I will be a good caretaker for Mr. Rod’s Camaro.

The car itself may be mine, but the Camaro will always be his. When a person builds a car, either for a client or personal project, they are putting themselves into that car in the form of blood, sweat and tears (and swearing in some cases). A Gearhead that has built their car will take far better care of it than someone who merely purchased it, because they know the hell they went through in order to get it finished. It’s why you always seen people, in their newly brought sports cars, wrapped around a tree or light post in the most idiotic fashions. They have no idea what the engineers and designers went through to get that new Ferrari 458 off the assembly plant, so it come to no surprise when Todd McMoneybags decides to show off with it and spins out into someone’s back yard.

When a Gearhead passes away there is a certain mystic that goes along with the cars they leave behind. It would be hard not to imagine that they are with you riding shotgun whenever you take their car out for a drive, or feel their presence when the car stares back at you when opening the garage. The idea could come from watching movies like Herbie the Love Bug or Stephen King’s Christine, but even so it keep us close to our loved ones knowing that a part of them is still alive in the form of a car. I know that now every time I drive the Camaro I will be extra careful because I know that Mr. Rod is watching over his car making sure I do not ride the clutch or grind any gears.

Cars like these truly only have one owner, the rest are merely caretakers that will pass on the keys to the next one when they can no longer drive them. I hope the next caretaker will be my own children who I will make damn sure can take excellent care of Mr. Rod’s Camaro. These are not just cars, they are someone’s work, art, family, legacy, memory, soul. Mr. Rod was a friend and a fellow Gearhead, I feel it was an honor that he let me be the caretaker for his car, so I will treat it as if I built it myself. He will be missed, but never forgotten

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Car-Guys are Good Guys

           Being a car-guy is never boring, but it does have its difficult moments. Our auto obsession is constantly being misunderstood by normal people and especially women. Cars have brain washed us into thinking that a smokey burnout or a well executed handbrake turn will make a girl assume the position and be putty in our hands. Cars make us outweigh the options between how much to spend on our date over how much to spend at the auto part store in order to get our rides ready for: the dragstrip, car meet, or car show next weekend. Women get after us when we refer to our cars as girls, for example, “She was cammed and I installed hooker headers in her, and man does she sound dirty”.  They do not understand half the stuff we are talking about on the daily bases, “Oh wow! A ’69 Boss with a shotgun engine, 4-speed, and slicks! I bet it runs 12s all day!” But we aren’t all bad; in fact, I believe that car-guys are some of the best type for a girl who is looking for a “good guy”.

            Now ladies, when looking for a car-guy beware of posers and pretenders because there are a lot of them out there. Fast and Furious fanboys, guys who think 28 inch “rimz” look great on any vehicle, or that think Pimp My Ride was a good show are NOT qualified. Now if you see a guy who eats ramen noodles every day because he spent his paycheck on race tuned suspension kit (because race car), gets his car facts from watching Top Gear, speaks in a language of numbers; for example, “I just dropped an aluminum 454 with a turbo 700 in the ’69 z/28 so it should be putting down at least 500 at 3500”. Then you might be in the company of a car-guy, greased up hair or busted knuckles are also hints that he’s the real deal. I understand that car-guys are a bit strange in the eyes of the average human, but let me explain to the women of the world why we are strangeness makes for a good spouse or boy friend.

  • The only mistress a car-guy will have will be his car: A car-guy in love will always put his girl at number 1, but our cars will always be in a photo finish second place. That means you’ll never have to worry about him checking out other women, he will be too busy checking out the rear-end of an Audi R8 or 1970 Chevelle SS.
  • We are easy to shop for when it comes to the holidays: Tools, any object with our favorite car or car brand painted on it, or money to buy more tools. Done.
  • The house will be your kingdom!: Feel free to decorate the house as you wish, all we request is the garage to be our kingdom…and maybe part of the backyard to park our summer project.
  • We are handy to have around: Can’t afford a plumber or electrician? Most car-guys can use their stock pile of tools to tinker around with anything that needs fixing around the house. (including your own car)
  •  We express our emotions openly: We will get emotional if we see a car that looks exactly like the one our father used to have, because we will flashback to our childhood memories of sitting on his lap while we steered the car. I know I get an inch in my eye whenever I think back of those moments with my dad. We will definitely shed a tear if we come back from a store to see someone has dented or scratched our beloved automobile…and then go into a ballistic rapid fit of rage. No matter how bad of a mood we are in, once we start driving our car, we will change moods faster than a schizophrenic with a bipolar disorder.
  • Want a good guy that looks like a bad boy? We got you covered: Car guys love fast cars and everything that is usually associated with them such as: rock n roll, leather jackets, sun glasses, tattoos, motorcycles, slick hair, the occasional run-in with the law  and even smoking. Everything needed to make your parents start looking into all female boarding school for you. You get the bad boy image with the good guy heart.

Now realistically every car-guy is different so results may vary, but the point is that we aren’t all that bad once you get past the whole obsession over automobiles. I know every car-guy has said that they wanted a motor girl to share their passion with, marry a girl if she could perform a prefect downshift, or a woman that can hand us the correct socket wrench while we are underneath the car. In the end, however, what we desire the most is a woman who will love us and just tolerate our little hobby. Ladies, you don’t need to understand our hobby if you do not want to, but letting us be able to express our fuel injected addiction freely will be key to making sure we think of you more than our cars.