Tag Archives: #cool

1972 Buick Riviera GS – Golden Brown

A story told from the car’s perspective:

A Premium Machine

It was another day at the Buick dealership. Another day of being shown off by Buick salesmen in their patterned suits, squeaky loafers, and slicked back hair as they paraded people, who had no business in a car like myself, around me. People getting inside me with their dirty shoes, messing with my buttons, and asking for test drives. Hearing them try to haggle over my sticker price always annoyed me. I’m a premium machine, a Gran Sport! I don’t want you if you cannot afford me. This day, however, was different because he walked in…

The first moment I saw him I knew he was different. Wearing a silver suit that shined like chrome, diamond pinky ring, and carrying big wads of cash in his black leather coat. He paid for me in cash! I can still remember the expression of disbelief on the salesmen’s face when he saw all that bread being laid out on the table. “Wrap her up, I’m taking her home today!” my new owner exclaimed with a cocky grin as he pointed to me. I had never seen a man so confident and aware of his motives. He knew what he liked, and had the money to obtain it, and what he liked was me.

He wasn’t the tallest man, but you would think he was seven feet tall by the way he carried himself. Always dressed in the finest suits and sporting different tinted color glasses each day. He had at least four different pair of sunglasses displayed on my dash. I always made sure to drive as smooth as possible as to not disturb them from their place. I could feel the rim of his gold rings when he grabbed the steering wheel. He must have been a very important man because he never bothered to lock my doors wherever we went. As if he knew no one would dare try to rip me off.

I was painted gold with a white vinyl top and brown leather interior; I was such a stunning machine back then. Didn’t take long for my owner to start spoiling me by buying me a set of white wall tires and chrome wheels to make me look more distinguish against those snobby Eldorados and Continentals. He always drove well-mannered and never abused me, always making sure I was warmed up before setting off. On occasion he would put his foot down to remind himself that I was much more than just a pretty face. My big 455 heart would suck up air and turn gasoline into torque as I ran up to 110 mph, hovering over any imperfections on the road. He was the coolest cat I had ever met, and other people seemed to share my opinion.

Custom Work

One day I remember being taken to a warehouse to see a mechanic dressed in street clothes. The man took a blowtorch to my trunk and made a hidden compartment in me. It didn’t hurt, but I felt strange having a hole cut in me for no reason.

From then on, my owner, who was often referred to as “The Jockey” by people who greeted him, would take me all over town for work. I never expected to be used as a hauler, but we went to the docks and he loaded a big brick shaped package into my trunk. We drove home and by the end of the night he had dozens of little golden brown bags that he placed in the trunk’s hidden compartment.

That’s when we would go to work – cruising into the darkest parts of the city. A side of town full of degenerates and vagabonds, no place for a Grand Sport like me. I hated rolling on filth covered streets and having low class women sit on my hood while my owner was inside a nightclub, working. Sometimes he would park me in a cold dark alley so he could check whatever it was that was hidden in my trunk.

Hitting the Streets

Going to work was always a nightmare of being surrounded by the scum of humanity. Once, a drunkard used my wheel as a urinal before losing his balance and falling over onto my rear fender. I felt his weight of soiled regret on my body work and wanted to shake him off like a horse brushing off flies with its tail.

Degenerates were always hounding my owner and would lean on my doors whenever they begged him for something. “I’m jonesing man, just need a taste to get me through the week!” One vagabond said to my owner. I didn’t understand what he wanted or why he seemed so desperate. He couldn’t stop twitching and looked as if he was about to have a nervous breakdown.

The nights were rough but the days were worth it. My owner loved taking me on scenic routes and dined at the finest restaurants where I felt more at home in the valet parking lot being hand washed by the staff. The sun would dance off my gold paint wherever we went and I loved hearing my voice sing as my 455 heart hummed with the smoothness of a knife slicing through butter. Those were the days I truly enjoyed being with my owner.

I felt like the good times were going to roll on forever, but suddenly it came to horrifying halt.

Night of No Return

It was a particularly dark night as the moon hid amongst the stars. I was sitting in the cold alley waiting for my owner to take us home. Suddenly, I head a noise in the shadows near the dumpster that was next to me. I saw two figures lurking, trying to hide themselves as best as they could. Then I heard the sound of my owner’s boots hitting the pavement as he made his way towards me from the rear. The two figures began to move out of the shadows and I saw that one of them had a switchblade in his hand.

I couldn’t see what happened because they were behind me, but I heard one of the men threaten my owner with the knife in exchange for the money he had. I didn’t hear my owner speak, all I heard was the commotion of shoes scrapping along the asphalt followed by the sound of a gun be fired! A sickening noise of air being forced out of a person’s lungs was next, followed by the weight of a body being dropped on my trunk lid.

Something warm began to spill on my paint and drip off my bumper. A pair of running footsteps was the last thing I heard before everything went silent. Minutes felt like hours as police sirens echoed in the distance. I had an idea of what the weight on my trunk was but was too scared to even imagine it. The weight on my trunk started to shift slowly as I heard the sound of his last breath before feeling the full weight relax on me. I knew what it was, but I did not want to bare it.

When the police arrived I heard them say that he had tried to pull a gun but was overpowered and stabbed repeatedly. My owner had been killed trying to defend himself and had bled out lying on my trunk. I was devastated that he was gone. I loved him…

I was towed to the impound yard where I have remained ever since. My paint has long been burnt off by the sun and I am no longer the stunning machine I was in 1972. Rats have turned me into a motel and I sit with the guilt of not being able to warn my owner. I doubt I’ll ever have another owner again because of how ugly I look.

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All I can do now is park in silence with memories of coastal runs and turtle wax massages. The memory of my owner will live on in the bags of golden brown hidden in my trunk.

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The Roast of America’s Pony Car

A Dysfunctional Family of Gearheads

The automotive community is one of many personalities. It’s composed of subcultures expressing their own opinion on how a vehicle should take you from A to B. There are those who prefer to go sideways, others who want to only go fast in a straight line, while others prefer to travel as the crow flies. This spectrum of opinion means that our community can behave like a sarcastic dysfunctional family that may not always get along, but knows deep down that we’re all we got.

The Mustang – Terror of the Meets

Over the last month, there has been a trending series of internet memes devoted to the Ford Mustang’s recent inability to leave a car meet without attempted vehicular manslaughter. It seems that when you put a live axle in a sports car, and toss the keys to an inexperienced driver, all-hell breaks loose faster than the Mustang’s rear-end. The internet has grown its inventory of videos showing Mustang owners wanting to leave a car show/event/meet in style by smoking their tires – only to lose control and crash into a crowd of spectators, or other cars.

People have gotten hurt in these accidents, not something to laugh about, but what the community does find funny is that it’s always a Ford Mustang kicking its ass around and sending its panicked driver into a world of legal trouble. Memes targeting Mustangs have been popping up everywhere like a McRib comeback ad.

Ford Mustangs are like the Kardashians. There are those who worship the ground they roll on, while others spit at the sight of a Coyote engine. While everyone else who is indifferent can’t escape seeing them everywhere they look. So the fact that it’s gotten so much heat is a statement that no car is safe from the wrath of meme creators.

Dark Ponies

Some memes are funny, but the joke has a dark tone. The joke is that Mustangs want to behave like Stephen King’s Christine and attack people. Non-car people love to associate our hobby with unwanted deaths and injuries. It’s been that way since the late 1940’s and hasn’t stopped since. Poking fun at Mustangs wanting to hurt people may look bad to those who aren’t in on the joke.

A New Vehicular Stereotype?

Following high school tradition, the Mustang roast will cool off by the start of the summer, unless another one accidentally plows into a crowd. However, I feel that the damage these reckless drivers have caused will haunt their favorite Ford’s image for a long time to come. The Mustang’s new reputation for acting like a Tasmanian devil may stick like an unwanted nickname. It may join the list of other stereotypical jokes that come with ownership of certain cars. For example…

  • If you drive a Prius, you are driving the car equivalent of a vegan.
  • If you drive an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes Benz, you must be a D-bag who is incapable of using turn signals.
  • If you’re a Corvette owner you must be suffering from a mid-life crisis.
  • All Mazda Miata’s owners are “hair-dressers”.
  • If you drive any truck that requires a step-ladder to climb in, then you are driving something big to compensate for something… small.

We all know these are just jokes at the owner’s expense, but the joke has become part of the car’s image. How many of you have thought about buying any of these vehicles but hesitated for a moment because you wondered what people would think? One shouldn’t care what others think as long as you are happy with your car, but the split-second hesitation means that these jokes can have a negative impact. Plus, any moron thinking there a stand-up comedian will see you as an easy target and that’s just annoying. “Oh you drive a Mustang? Don’t hit me bro. Ha..ha..ha.”

Not Worth It

Remember that the reward of leaving a car event in a trail of tire smoke is not worth the risk in damages. The art of driving may become endangered in the not to distant future, so we cannot give the people who don’t understand our hobby an excuse to take it away. Drive safe, and don’t fall for stereotypes.

1970 Chevelle SS: Garage POW

The Story of a 1970 Chevelle SS, told by the car itself.

I don’t remember the day I was born, but I have a faint image of the moment they slapped these shiny SS badges on me. Sitting center stage on the showroom floor can give any car a massive ego. I sat there sporting my arrest me red paint, and black racing stripes, just day dreaming of the day I get to strut my stuff on the sunset strip. Then one day the call came in that I had been purchased over the phone, which made me a little sad. I always felt that whoever was going to buy me was going to walk into the dealership and stop dead in their tracks when they say me and all my muscle car glory. Then they would open the hood to stare at my 454 cubic inch heart, and the salesmen would utter my favorite phase, “most powerful muscle car on the market for 1970.”

I didn’t get to go out much after I was delivered to my new home. I mostly stayed covered up in the garage, I didn’t even know who my owner was. During my first week, as I was sleeping in the garage when I was awoken by lights coming on and felt the cover being brushed across my panels to expose one of my headlights – I could see a small boy looking at me. He must have been maybe ten years old, still wearing his PJ’s as he stared at his reflection on my chrome bumper. “When my big brother comes back from his tour we are going to have so much fun going fast. He said he would teach me how to drive a 4-speed with you.” The little boy said as he ran his little fingers across my flawless paint. I wondered if the boy’s big brother was my new owner, I couldn’t wait to meet him.

At least once a week the little boy, who I overheard his mother call Johnny once, came to visit me at night. Sometimes he would sit in the driver seat and pretend to steer or turn on the radio, and once he fell asleep in one of my bucket seats. On weekends, Johnny’s father would come in and turn the key to start me up. It was one of the few times I got to hear my own voice and every time Johnny would stop whatever he was doing to listen to me. His eyes would widen in sync with my throttle. Whenever the father juiced the gas pedal and my 454 gave out a roar, Johnny’s eyes widened in excitement.

Johnny must have been very persistent because one day his father took me out of the garage and drove us around the block a few times. I never seen Johnny so happy and I felt so proud to be the reason for his happiness. The father even ran me through the gears to show Johnny how fast I was and I felt my tires get hot and sticky for the first time. I felt like I could catch, eat, and spit out anything on the road that dared to go wheel to wheel with me at a street light. A memory to last a lifetime for Johnny and his father.

I was getting attached to my family, and I hadn’t even met my real owner yet. Even though I wasn’t on the road as often I liked I was still able to gaze out in the afternoons and weekends when the garage door was opened and Johnny lifted the cover so I could see out and he could stare at me while he played out in the yard. Life was good during these months.

It was winter when I saw Johnny’s mother go to the mail box and opened a letter that made her drop to her knees in tears. Johnny and his father came to her aid, but soon they too fell to the ground in uncontrollable tears. That night, Johnny came in to the garage and covered me up. “I’m sorry”, was the last thing he said before he shut off the light and left me alone in the dark.

Johnny stopped visiting me after that night. His father stopped opening the garage door and instead started to use me as a shelf to put his tools and boxes. Over time I felt the oil in my system begin to run down into the bottom of the pan, and my tires begin to lose air until I was sitting on my magnum 500 wheels. After a few years you couldn’t tell a car was sitting in the garage for I was completely covered in stuff. The depression was unbearable so I decided to just go to sleep.

I had no idea how much time had gone past when I was woken up by the sound of a commotion in the garage. I couldn’t see what the sound was but I started to feel weight being lifted off my hood. Someone was removing stuff looking for me! It took probably a whole afternoon of moving stuff around before the cover was removed and I could see day light once again. A young man stood before me wearing a black T-shirt with some kind of monsters drawn on it and had the word “KISS” written across it. He had long hair and smiled when he saw me. “Sorry it took me so long David…I’ll watch over it for you. I promise.” He said. It was Johnny! He was grown up now.

It took Johnny a few days to completely clear a path so I could be pushed out into the driveway. Out in the daylight I was treated to fresh gas, oil, battery, and a much needed detailing. Soon I was brought back to my younger years. Thankfully, being trapped in a garage for nearly a decade can retire the aging process.

The first time back on the road I couldn’t believe it, I thought I was going to wake up in darkness again. The other cars on the road looked a lot different from the last time I was out. Seeing cars with wild paint schemes and wearing huge fat tires with chrome side pipes. They looked wild! The gas tasted different as well, it had a very nasty aftertaste that I didn’t like at all but at least it kept me running. I was itching to stretch my wheels.

I soon got my chance when we stopped at a stoplight and a cousin Pontiac rolled up alongside me. Least I think it was a Pontiac, I wasn’t quite sure because it had an ugly gold bird painted on its hood and half of its roof was missing. My ego took a hit when I spotted a 455 Super Duty badge on its hood. “One cubic inch bigger than me, should I be nervous?” I thought to myself. Johnny gave the Pontiac’s driver the signal – the race was on.

I was amped up as I revved past 3,000 RPM wanting to launch into outer space. The light flashed green and I threw Johnny back in his seat as he tried to hang on to the shifter to change into second gear. Tunnel vision was setting in as I ran hard up to 60mph and I couldn’t see where the Pontiac was but I knew he wasn’t ahead of me. I didn’t want to stop and a gear change into fourth meant I was finally running flat out. I was doing what I was built to do all those years ago, go fast and look good doing it.

All these years of never knowing my real owner when all the while it was Johnny who was there, and even though he left me, he was the one who came back to rescue me. I was not left behind.

The Skeleton Driver

Headlights cut through the darkness of a lonely highway as you watch the yellow lines getting swept under the front of the car. You have an endless stretch of two lane blacktop all to yourself. The only noise passing through your ears is Johnny Cash’s somber voice as he sings about wishing he was stoned on a Sunday morning. The steady repetition can make it easy for someone to wander off into the depths of their subconscious while they let muscle memory take the wheel. Least that’s what was happening to me as I suddenly realized I couldn’t recall the last couple of miles I had driven. I was on my way home from the bar after yet another night out with Johnny Walker, and his wing-man Miller, as they helped me drown the demons that chased my soul every night.

I never considered myself a bad guy; even when a dirty, self-entitled, draft dodging hippy spat in my face as he called me a baby killer. No sir, I was not a bad guy, just a man put in a bad situation. Even with the start of a new year just a month away I felt that 1972 was only going to bring 365 days of liquid dinners and sleepless nights of regret. “I was following orders, I did nothing wrong.” I would tell myself to try and convince me that I was alright. Sitting behind the wheel of my ‘64 Chevy step-side, my body felt numb as the truck rolled along the dark road. My mind began to drift off again into the alcohol fueled anarchy of my imagination, and I could feel goosebumps beginning to form on my arms as ice cold sweat starting running down the back of my neck. My mind was going to take a trip, a trip back to Vietnam, 1970.

First thing I heard before I went back was the sound of my lieutenant yelling at us to clear a village of all hostiles. Feeling the weight of my gear on my back as I we marched into the village. We didn’t have to be stealth, the moonless night and pouring rain gave us plenty of cover to walk in unnoticed. Intelligence had told us that this village was a suspected supply dump for Charlie, and we were ordered to search and destroy. I had heard the stories of Charlie using civilians as suicide bombers to trap unsuspecting GI’s. Hiding a grenade in a baby stroller, or a woman hiding a bomb in her hat as she walked up to a platoon before detonating.

We wandered through the village, using the storm’s lighting strikes to see where we were going. It was the middle of monsoon season and there were times when I couldn’t remember what it felt like to be dry. Paranoia, exhaustion, fear, and impaired senses make for a deadly cocktail as most of the men, including myself, balanced our minds on a tight rope between sanity and suicide. I started to remember the vision of muzzle flashes as one man in our unit begin to open fire at a hut in the village. My ears going deaf and not being able to hear myself think; the high pitched ringing echoing in my head as I opened fire with my M16.

That was as far as my flashback went because I was suddenly thrown back into reality when the interior of my truck was filled with an orange glow from a set of headlights coming up behind me. “Turn off your high beams asshole”, I muttered to myself as I eased the truck to the shoulder to let the car behind me pass. The car wouldn’t pass me though, it just kept inching closer and closer to my rear bumper. Before I could decide on whether or not to brake check this dude I was greeted by a sudden shunt as the car’s front-end kissed the back of my Chevy truck, and then sped up to ram into me. Dropping the column shifter down into second gear, I forced the Chevy to give me every single rev the tired V8 had to give as I stood on the gas pedal.

I was pushing 90 as the Chevy bounded over every imperfection on the road. The car chasing me didn’t lose a beat as it stayed glued to my bumper, ramming into me as if it was hammering in a nail. Adrenaline was pulling me out of my drunken haze, trying to keep the truck from fishtailing as the hits started getting more and more violent. I could feel the truck wanting to let go as every shunt pushed the rear wheels faster than they were turning. Suddenly the car backed off, enough for me to get the truck stable. The orange light even began to dim as if the car was slowing down. The faint sigh of relief lasted only a few seconds before I was completely blinded by the orange light and thrown back in my seat by a metal crushing slam that managed to push the rear-end off the ground long enough to lose traction. Richard Petty couldn’t have done a much better job of preventing the truck from spinning out. All I could do was hang on as the truck began to spin circles down the road before smashing through a guardrail and slide down an embankment. I tired the brakes but the truck skidded on the grass before crashing nose first into a tree. Everything when black at the moment of impact as my face greeted the steering wheel.

Within the darkness, the memories started once again. I had been in the jungle for nearly 6 months and I knew I was never going to be the same again. The smell of death and decay was an invisible fog that never lifted, but instead fell over us like the thick humid air. Even my hands looked different when I stared at them, they were now the hands that had taken life away. I had six confirm kills to my name, and at least a dozen unknown. It had gotten to the point that I no longer saw Charlie as humans but rats that needed to be exterminated with napalm. My morals were slowly being erased by the horrors of war and I could feel the change happening but couldn’t stop it.

After we had cleared the area of Charlie, we had gathered all the supplies into a huge pile. Hundreds and thousands of pounds of ammo and guns being prepped to get blown sky high with explosives. The lieutenant ordered me to check the last hut for stragglers. “Clear it!” He barked. When I stormed into the hut all I find is a family of 6 small children, couldn’t have been more than ten or twelve years old with their eyes wide, stricken with terror. I spotted a couple of AK-47 rifles at their feet and a box of ammo behind one of the kids. “Davis! Clear that hut now!” yells the lieutenant, not knowing what I am staring at. I wanted to turn around and just pretend I didn’t see them, “walk away…” I thought. I lower my M16 and motioned my foot backwards to turn around. I was almost out, just a half second later and I would have been outside in the rain again, but I saw it. I saw a sudden movement out in the corner in my eye and my training took over. After the last full metal jacket casing had finished bouncing off the wooden floor, a lightning strike showed me what the sudden movement had been. It was my own shadow! My own paranoia had made me kill 6 children. I stood frozen in shock as I watched the collecting pool of blood crawl towards the tips of my boots as I felt the last moral in my soul being washed away by cold sweat.

The image of my shadow towering over the corpse of innocents shocked me back into conciseness. Drunken adrenaline kept the pain away but I could feel warm blood running down my face from a gash in my head. I put all my weight up against the door to force it to open as I stumbled out. Standing myself up to try and catch my breath, I looked around to readjust my eyes to see where I was, and what that orange light had been. Took only a moment for me to hear the sound of a souped up engine in the distance, a thumping clank of an engine with a hot camshaft singing through a pair of straight pipe exhaust. I heard the sound before I saw the source, but when I saw it I questioned whether or not I was still dreaming.

The orange light dimmed to show a ‘68 Cadillac hearse. The paint was animated as it bubbled and boiled as if it was under extreme heat. Suddenly the orange headlights turned off as a figure stepped out of the driver side door, and a neon green light beamed from within the interior of the hearse. “Who are you?” I shouted at the man sized figure. The figure stood there for a moment before walking down the embankment up to me. The red glow from my truck’s taillights were enough for me to see who it was and I froze with terror. The driver was dead! His suit was covered in mud and dirt as his skeleton hands adjusted his tie before looking up at me to revile his face. A skull with maggots and worms crawling inside his eye holes. My legs wouldn’t work, all I could do was tremble in fear as every instinct in my head was praying for me to run, but I couldn’t. The skull’s jaw moved as if it was going to say something, “Judgement”, was all it said before it launched itself at me. The last thing I saw before it all went dark was its mouth opening and running towards me in the blink of an eye.

When I opened my eyes all I could see was darkness, and when I tried to move I realized I was in a confined space…a coffin. I could still hear the engine running all around me, it was running at full throttle. “I’m not dead! You can’t do this! I am NOT DEAD!” I shouted into the dark. No answer. I couldn’t tell if it was tears or blood that was running down my cheeks but the panic was starting to set in as I begin to hit, kick, and scratch at the walls around me. Shouting for god and his mercy as my finger nails snapped off my flesh trying to claw away at the wooden box. Suddenly, I was jolted forward to the end of the coffin as the hearse slammed on its brakes to come to a stop. I silenced my screaming to wait and see what happened next.

I felt like a rag dog as the coffin was unloaded and dropped on what I hoped was solid ground. The coffin doors flew open and I was looking up at the night sky again. Not waiting to get trapped I jumped out of the coffin and looked around at where I was. I was still on the same road, the two lane blacktop I always used to get home. It wasn’t until I turned around that I saw emergency vehicles blocking off the road to attend to an accident of some kind. I felt a gust of wind push me forward to investigate what had happened. Paramedics and fire fighters seemed to run past me as if I didn’t exist, scrambling to attend to whoever it was that was injured.

Passing the blockade of police cars I saw three body bags on the ground side by side, one was noticeably shorter than the other two. Beyond that I saw the cause behind all this commotion, it was a head on collision between a station wagon, and a pickup truck…my pickup truck. The front-ends of both cars had vanished as they had both been pushed in like soda cans from the impact leaving nothing but bits of metal and glass scattered across the asphalt. I didn’t understand what was going on. I had just been driven off the road into a tree by a skeleton in a hearse and now here was my truck, completely demolished with three body bags as a result of it. I wanted to run away, run home and fall asleep so I could wake up from this hellish night terror. I wanted to wake up in a pool of my own sweat again just as the nights before, at least then I would take comfort in that this was all just a horrid dream. Why couldn’t I wake up!

I closed my eyes, “Wake up man! You need to wake up! For the love of God, wake the hell up!” I shouted. Then I heard one of the paramedics, he was shouting, “clear!” and I felt an extreme wave of heat fly across my chest. It was enough to knock me down to my knees. I turned to the ambulance to see a crowd had formed around the two paramedics. As I made my way to ambulance I could feel the strength leaving my body. I felt weak and was knocked down by another wave of extreme heat burning through my chest. I carried myself as my legs began to start feeling numb until I reached the crowd of firefighters and policemen who were surrounding the paramedics.

What I saw next threw me into shock. It was me! My legs were gone! They had been completely chopped off in the accident, my face was nearly unrecognizable, just a vague resemblance of bloody flesh. “It’s no good, I’m calling it, 12:01 am November 21, 1971.” Said the paramedic. “I’m dead…” I thought as the fully realization of my fate had become clear to me. That’s when I heard the sound of the engine again and saw the haunted hearse slowly creep up to meet me. The skeleton driver stepped out yet again and pointed at me. “Judgement”, it said in an oily voice that shook me to my core.

“Tragic, this family was traveling back from vacation.” I heard someone say but nobody was around. “How do you know?” said another voice. “I found these Disneyland Mickey Mouse ears on the side of the road, must have belonged to the little girl.” My eyes widen. The little girl, the smaller body bag. I had killed a family, and myself, in a drunk driving accident. I remembered now. Driving on the road, seeing everything go black as I tried to fight the urge to fall sleep just before I saw a set of headlights in the distance. So much innocence taken away by my hand and now it was time to answer for my mistakes. The skeleton driver opened the coffin for me to get in, but I refused to get back in that box. I turned to run away into the night. The driver stood like a statue as he pulled a handheld scythe from behind his back and then set off sprinting holding the scythe over his head.

The skeleton driver wiped the blood off his scythe before placing it carefully back in its engraved silver case. He placed the now loaded coffin in the back of his chariot of hellfire before adjusting his tie one last time and getting behind the wheel of his Cadillac. The orange headlights beamed as the engine cranked over, spitting fire out of the exhaust. The bubbling black paint boiling intensely as the hearse roared away down the two lane blacktop before vanishing into thin air leaving no trace of its presence. All that was left on the road after the accident was a set of military dog tags that had appeared to have been burned.

Happy Halloween Everybody – J.G.

Curse of a Speeder

To my friends and family, it is no secret that I like to drive fast occasionally. Some people say I have a problem, others say it is just a side effect of being young, but I see it as a way to forget about the annoyances of everyday life. Every day we are constantly bombarded by the media about horrific events happening around the world, flooded in a tsunami of ignorance on social media by people who are masters at spraying hate and fertilizer out of their mouths, and that’s just checking your phone in the morning. Life is hard, but it is simple, its people that make it complicated. In order to keep one’s sanity, one has to find a way to get away from it all – even if it is just for a few minutes each day.

I confess that I am a speeder, although I do not drive like a madman. Like most people with my, “problem”, I do enjoy painting asphalt with rubber, going sideways, and reaching top end speeds when the conditions are right. The problem with this relaxation technique is that police officers do not find it very amusing and love showing their disapproval in the form of traffic tickets. I could fill a glove box, and I have, with the number of citations, warnings, and court receipts I’ve collected over the years. I am here to talk about the struggle of being a driver with an exuberant driving style.

At this point, some of you might be thinking that I am just an obnoxious punk whose only problem is being too stubborn to slow down and letting his ego fool him into thinking he’s the next Richard Petty. Before you unleash your judgement upon me, please let me point out that I know I am not a professional driver and I know that I can be as stubborn and rebellious as a teenaged mule. However, I do need to point out that because I have a passion for driving and car control, I do feel that I am at least more qualified than the average driver. I’m certainly safer than someone who’s bad habits behind the wheel consist of applying makeup, checking their Twitter feed, or sending Snap Chat videos of them looking into a camera while their favorite song plays on the radio. Those are only a handful of bad habits that I witness on a daily bases when I’m traveling on the Interstates.

When I say I have a passion for driving I mean I love it! To me, driving is a skill that is fun and challenging. Most people can safely drive a car from A to B and not give it a second thought for the rest of the day, but I like knowing what a car can and can’t do as far as braking, steering, and acceleration. It is important to know how a car will behave during an emergency, so yeah sometimes I like to give a car’s ABS system a workout and drive it like I stole it. But, there is nothing more relaxing, in my opinion, than being behind the wheel of a car on a beautiful, low traffic, day with your favorite playlist humming through the stereo. You don’t need to drive fast in order to enjoy driving; sometimes a nice quiet drive is all you need to get your stress out.

The Curse of a Speeder is that once you’ve earned a reputation as a speeder some people will label you as being reckless or a, “Bad Driver”. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never wrecked, practice car control – to most people speed equals danger. The irony of it is that people who text and drive do not, for the most part, get the same stigma. Sure there are campaigns warning us of the dangerous of texting while driving, but we all think, “That won’t happen to me, because I’m careful”. Maybe you have a system of only answering a buzzing phone when you are at a stoplight, or maybe your eyes can part into two different directions like a chameleon. Whatever the system is, the response for someone who texts and drives is usually, “Oh? Haha, I do that to sometimes”. The usual response for someone who speeds is, “Oh. Be careful…”

This year alone I have received two speeding tickets, three months apart, in two different cities. What annoys me is that when the police officers spotted me on their radar, I wasn’t trying to speed I was simply driving. The first time I was caught speeding I was driving home and I knew I was getting on the interstate so muscle memory took over and I sped up before the on-ramp. The second time, I was traveling between cities. I was passing a convoy of five semi-trucks and I sped up because I hate when they bounce peddles and road dirt off my hood and windshield – that landed me speeding ticket number two. If I was doing triple digit speeds or doing donuts in a parking lot than yeah I would have gladly accepted my law breaking punishment, but speeding up a mile before an on-ramp or passing semi-trucks is not what I would consider, “reckless driving”.

Since I am still under 25 years old, taking online defensive driving courses in order to reduce, and dismiss, a traffic citation is an option I always take. The problem is that the course is six hours long, and hilariously outdated. The safely videos shown were filmed in 1994, so you hear instructors recommending you to purchase a vehicle with Anti-Lock Brakes and telling you how to use them. Safety features in cars, and traffic laws in general, have changed a lot in the last two decades, so the course is a joke. It is detention for drivers.

A better system would be a written Driver’s Ed exam that you need to pass in order for it to count as taking a defensive driving course. It wouldn’t take you more than half an hour and at least then a person is forced to review traffic laws before getting a ticket reduced or dismissed.

Auto makers build cars that practically beg us to break the law. The new Ford Focus RS has a Drift Mode button which allows you to slide the compact car around a corner easier. Dodge created the Hellcat Challenger and Charger, normal family sedans that can reach 200 mph. That is like a general store selling high proof whiskey in a dry county. Why make such powerful cars if the average driver has no place to fully enjoy their bang for the buck? Not everyone with a fast car has time to go to a drag strip, which are constantly being closed, or a race track, which don’t always offer track-days here in the U.S. The easier option is street racing and that is about as dangerous as it can get.

So what is a speeder to do? We are entering an era where cars are getting faster and traffic laws are getting stricter. It’s not like in the old days when you could in fact out run the police if your car was hot enough, the days before dash cams and speed cameras. It is a curse to have a need for speed these days, one that can affect your wallet as well as your health.

I think I can speak for most people who can relate to my story that we won’t change, driving is a passion and speed is a byproduct. There are always a few rotten apples that spoil it for all of us by not being able to control their cars or not knowing their own limitations, but we are not a danger to the public nor should not be seen as such. We just like to fully enjoy our cars as the engineers who designed them intended us to. If they built a car that can produce 707 horsepower, why shouldn’t we be allowed to experience every last galloping pony? So whether you are a speeder or see driving as a chore remember to keep your eyes on the road, and both hands on the wheel. Drive safe everyone.

Legacy. (Happy Father’s Day)

Being a dad means following a lot of traditions in life, but those traditions can differ depending on the father those dad’s had. Good or bad, a father will pass on something to their children and I personally pray and hope that every child learns at least one positive thing from their fathers. My dad has taught me more things that you can put on a Swiss Army knife, and there is so much I still need to learn, but the most important thing he has passed on to me is a legacy. My father’s father was also an automotive enthusiast who traded and sold cars on the side to support his wife and seven children. Of all the things my father gained from spending time with my grandfather, the two most important were a set of tools and a passion for cars. A skill and a hobby that he later on used in his own life to support his own young family when I was just a baby. A skill and a hobby that he passed on to me in the form of Hot Wheels and letting me hold the flash light when he worked on the family sedan. I am a third generation Gearhead, and the passion for this hobby seems to increase with each generation.

I often wonder what kind of man I would be if it wasn’t for my father, and the assumptions always lean towards worse. My father is the one who, 23 years ago, tossed a pebble down the snowy mountain which snowballed into who I am today. Those Hot Wheels turned into pedal cars, and they turned into bicycles, then go-karts, and ending with cars and trucks. Along the way he taught me how to keep my cars and trucks on the road, and how to handle a situation if they happened to misbehave and leave me on the side of the road. I never worry if my car breaks down, mostly because I am used to it by now, but mainly because I know that I can take care of myself in these situations. I also take great comfort in knowing that if the trouble is too great for me, my father is just a phone call away where I can ask for his help and wisdom. For that I am blessed.

I like to think that everything in life happens for a reason, it helps to calm me down during stressful times in my life when I feel lost. I know that sometimes we like to stop and look back at our lives and wonder, “what if”, those critical moments in our lives never happened or changed. If my father never introduced me to the automotive hobby, I probably would have never found my second hobby in life which is writing. I say that because anything that I write for fun has an automotive tone or element behind it, and the same goes for anything creative I do in life.

This father’s day I am thankful for the life my father has passed on to me. Biologically I am a man already, but I know I still have decades of knowledge ahead of me before I can even hope to measure up to the legacy of my father and his father. Men who relied on their hands and mind in order to keep food on the table and the house in working order. My father always says that the main goal for any parent is to live to see the day when their children’s success in life outweighs their own, because that means they have done their job right. My little brother and I are currently working on that.

I wish a happy father’s day to dads, step-dads, grandfathers, and moms who play both roles, for thriving to teach and inspire their children to be better than them in life. A loving parent that raises a child, that grows up to become a loving parent is the ultimate legacy.

Leadfoot Traveler: Mexico

Whenever the family is deciding where to travel for a family vacation, the first things that come to my mind are, “What are the roads like? Is it car friendly?” Part of being a Gearhead is having a love for driving, regardless of the car you’re driving as long as the view through the windshield is interesting. I am originally from Mexico, but due to the drug cartel violence of the past decade my family and I have not been able to visit our relatives since 2007. However, last month we were able to drive into Mexico and spend some time with family friends and I got a chance to drive in Mexico for the first time. This is a travel story as seen through the eyes of a Gearhead.

We were all a little nervous when we entered the border city of Reynosa, Mexico. My parents’ hometown, and the city where I was born, had changed immensely since we left for Texas during the early 90’s. I remember visiting Reynosa, and other cities in Mexico during family vacations as a kid and seeing the streets filled with VW Beetles as soon as we crossed the border. For reasons I’ll never understand, border towns on either side of the line are always a bit… rougher than cities that are more inland. Reynosa was no different as some of the roads looked like the surface of the moon, and my Mazda 3 bunny hopped over each and every one of them. If any of you have never visited the beautiful country of Mexico, and plan on doing so, there is one very important rule to learn when driving on Mexican streets and that is… there are no rules. When I say there are no rules I mean that driving around Mexico is a lot like a being in a road race.

Lanes only exist when traffic develops, and that is only for freeways or highways, any other time you can have four car wide traffic squeezed into a two lane road with cars just inches away from each other. Bus drivers think they own the road, much like our 18-wheeler friends on American interstates, only these guys are masters of knowing the dimensions of their vehicles as they cut through a sea of near miss traffic. I have never seen a city bus dive across three lanes of traffic just to cut off a line of cars behind it in order to drop off passengers at a bus stop. Cars don’t even honk, they just serve to avoid it with rally car driver reflexes.

image3 <-A two-lane road.

My second night in Reynosa I was handed the keys to a brand new work truck from my Uncle’s business. A little Nissan pickup truck with a flatbed designed to haul 2,000 pounds. Cute little truck with a manual transmission, four cylinder engine, and just 200 kilometers on the clock. It was nighttime when it was my turn to drive and it started to rain minutes after I was tossed the keys. At night, the lines on the road do not reflect so you have no idea where the lanes on the road are and have to just pick a groove and stick with it. Also, the reflection from the water makes the roads look like mirrors so you are unable to see any potholes until it is too late. The truck had brakes and suspension set up to haul and carry heavy loads so when it’s not loaded the truck feels like a 1944 Willys Jeep. Breathing on the brake pedal causes it to lock up and any bump or pothole sent me flying up into the roof as it bounced along. I’ve always wanted to drive one so I was able to cross it off my bucket list.

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We were going to take a road trip to Monterey on our third day, and my uncle handed me the keys to his 2014 Range Rover so I could follow him in the two car convoy. I’m used to driving vintage cars and dirty farm trucks and now I was behind the wheel of a supercharged, six figured price tag, luxury SUV! I loved driving it, to the point that I saw stopping at a restaurant to eat or going to a mall to shop as a distraction. All I wanted to do was get behind the wheel and keep driving the streets of Monterey with its fast, anything goes, driving style. To survive on the road you need a car that is either very nimble or has quick acceleration to get you out of tight situations and avoid a collision.

image4  <- A joy to drive.

The police gave me cultural shock as well. It is a little disorienting waiting at a stoplight and having a military truck next to you with a Mexican solider riding on the roof holding an M60 machine gun. In Reynosa, the military is the police and they fulfill all the duties as a police officer only with much more firepower and presence. Once you get further inland you start to see Federal police officers cruising around in souped up Ford Taurus and Dodge Chargers. One thing that stood out for me was that they do not have unmarked interceptors, instead each police car rides around with their red and blues flashing. When I asked why, they told me it was to let people know they are around in case they need help. They do not try to hide in the public eye, instead they try to stand out as much as possible so the public can find them in an emergency.

The classic Volkswagen Beetle and Kombi have not be in production since 2003, and used to be the kings of the road in Mexico. With more economic, faster, and comfortable European cars on the market I was worried that they would have been replaced and sent away to the scrap yards to rot. As a kid, I would count the number of Beetles and Kombis I would see as I looked out the window during car rides. Back then, you would see four or five VW’s before seeing any other type of car. Beetles ruled the roads up and the people loved them. I am pleased to say that although there aren’t as many around as there use to be, you can still listen to the “Tak-tak-tak-tak-tak” sound of an air-cooled engine providing a bass to the city’s soundtrack. I spotted a few classics being used as daily drivers, and seeing them on the road brought nostalgic memories of my early days when I was just getting hooked on cars as a little kid. According to my parents, when I was around five years old I wanted to take a ride in one of these funny tear drop shaped cars. My parents pulled over and stopped a VW Beetle taxi cab and asked the driver to drive us around just so I could experience what it was like to ride in a Beetle. VW’s will always have a very special place in my heart.

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My uncle is a very fast driver, and he knows the dimensions of his truck very well so he can maneuver his Dodge Ram as if it was a mini cooper through traffic. Staying on his tale was no easy task as I have to change my driving habits in order to keep up. I broke nearly every traffic law you can think when just trying to keep up with his Hemi powered Truck. I ran through red lights, stops signs, sped through boulevards, changed lanes in an unsafe manner without signaling, driving on the wrong side of the road, and speeding. I gave the Range Rover a thorough test of its ABS, traction control, and engine performance in the process. I concluded that the truck feels extremely confrontable at 110mph, but it lacks stopping power when it comes to throwing the anchor out in an emergency stop, it’s too heavy. Ironically, my first day back in the United States I was pulled over for speeding and given a ticket.

image2 <- A dark highway all to ourselves.

My trip to Mexico was amazing because it was unplanned and those are usually the best kind of vacations. I never expected to drive through the cities my parents grew up in a Range Rover, let alone be allowed to drive it like most of us day dream about. Having a blast on the roads, playing near-miss with motorcycles and city buses while keeping my foot hard on the gas to keep up with a Red Dodge Ram in front of me. I love Mexico, and I love traveling by car, to me it’s the only way to properly enjoy a country you have never been in.