We were all young once, which means most of us can remember when our parents coming home in a shiny new car. There is something intoxicating about a new car, probably the fumes of new car smell, that makes teenagers want to immediately take it for a joy ride where inexperience and exuberance mix together in disastrous results. Not always, but sometimes. I know I fell prey to this phenomenon when I was 16 and kissed a telephone pole with my father’s brand new Chevrolet Silverado pick up, one month after he had purchased it. I vividly remember the accident because when I spun out and wrecked, it happened in front of a parking lot where my father was waiting for me. My father witnessed his brand new truck play Rock’em Sock’em robots with a telephone phone. I still do not know what felt worse, the impact or the fact that he did not yell or speak to me for the next two days. In case you were wondering, truck was repaired and we still own it as a work truck, only since then it has been nicknamed the Piñata since there is not one single piece of sheet metal on that poor truck that doesn’t have a work related scratch or dent.
Recently, however, it was my mother’s turn to get a new car and she decided to go all out on a fully loaded 2015 Kia Optima turbo. This car has every option available and powered by a turbo charged four banger cranking out 270 of American built Korean horses. The car can be mistaken for a Mercedes as it looks more European than Korean in pearl white paint and 18 inch alloy wheels. When I drove down for the weekend to visit my parents, I also went as an excuse to drive the new edition to the family as well. The first time I drove the car I felt like I was holding the baby of a first time mother as both my parents turned into backseat drivers. Lecturing me about driving slow over speed humps and avoiding pot holes to protect the low profile tires, and to not drive so fast around corners. The following night I was invited to a social gathering with my friends and I asked if I could borrow the Kia out for the night. Much to my amazement, I was tossed the keys and I was out the door faster than you can say turbo.
How many of you remember telling your parents, “yes dad/mom I’ll be safe”, and the cutting to you doing donuts in a parking lot with all your friends squeezed in for the ride. Joy riding my mom’s cars is nothing new, I remember pushing the family minivan, a Kia Sedona, well passed the 115mph mark when I was 18. As I drove the Optima that night, I was confident I could beat my old record and went for it. Modern cars can be hovering over tarmac at 120 mph and feel like they are on rails, as was the case with this turbo Kia as it climbed up to 127mph before I backed off due to an upcoming turn on the highway. It wasn’t until the drive back home that I felt a sense of nostalgia of asking my parents to borrow the car and then pushing a car, and my luck, to its limit as most car loving teenagers are prone to do.
Youth gives us a fault sense of invincibility, which can only be dissolved the hard way. For a Gearhead, however, we may never learn because if a car has 500 horsepower, then we will use every last one of them. Our logic is, “why build a car with that much power if you’re not going to use it?” For a lot of us, our first experiences with speed or car control have often been at the expense of cars borrowed from our parents. You can almost call it a rite of passage in the developing life of a Gearhead. My parents often warn me that someday I’ll have a son of my own standing in front of me asking to borrow the keys to my car. When that day comes, the circle of cycle will be complete as I feel the same ball of stress, made up of terror and worry, sitting in the pit of my stomach as I watch my child leave the driveway in my new Camaro. The same ball of stress every parent feels when they see their children drive off.