I’ve had some pretty crappy jobs. Growing up, my dad owned a welding/fabrication shop in Signal Hill, California where I spent my summers sweeping floors, de-burring galvanized carts by hand, wrenching down casters onto rolling tables, more sweeping, and learning how to drive a forklift. Most of the money I earned went towards buying my first car.
When the day came to buy a car, I had my eyes on a burgundy-and-black ’70 4-4-2 my brother had recently picked up. He wasn’t too interested in the big A-Body and was considering selling me the car until my mother vetoed the idea of me driving the Olds to high school with its big stump-pulling 455. Left to find something a little more mellow, my father and I spotted a ’71 split-bumper Camaro.
All of my summer’s earnings – much of which my father wisely didn’t let me hold onto – was dumped into the $2,200 asking price. The car ran fine after rejetting the Rochester quadra-bog and bumping up the timing a hair.
A trip to a tiny muffler shop in downtown Long Beach outfitted the Camaro with dual 2 1/2-inch exhaust and a pair of turbo mufflers for a hundred bucks.
To pay for more necessities for the Camaro I had to pick up an after school job, so I went to work at a local Hallmark store. The job was a drag but the coworkers were cute, and besides the weekly tank of gas, all of my money went into the car (I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time).
When the job dried up, I spent another summer working at dad’s shop making deliveries, sweeping the floor, clearing out the rock tumbler, and more sweeping.
My senior year, I went to work at a restaurant busing tables, working in the kitchen and sweeping the floor (see a pattern?). The cash was minimal, but living at home kept my expenses low, allowing plenty of money to patch up the Camaro’s torn seats, replace the package tray, and other general oddities on the Camaro.
While dad had ponied up the cash to match what I had earned sweeping his shop (he actually paid most of it, I really didn’t earn squat), I earnestly felt that the old F-Body was mine. I had worked to buy it and maintain it, and I was proud of it…that is, when it ran.
That is why I was so bothered by this want ad posted by a self-proclaimed, yet totally unfounded car guy. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 19-year-old car enthusiast writes, “What I am looking for is someone who is willing to pass a part of their life on in order to keep that part of their life alive.” I know what you’re thinking, “Huh?”
While the kid uses a lot of heart string-tugging rhetoric, his point is, “Will somebody please give me a car?” And it is this reason that I am, for all intents and purposes, thoroughly pissed off.
Maybe I’m just coming off waaay too old and crotchety, but for all of us whose first cars were claptrap piles of junk that we bought with our own money, worked on every evening, Saturday mornings, breaks in-between classes and after school, the idea of merely giving this kid a cool project car is outrageous.
I know what many might be thinking, “C’mon man, there’s thousands of hoarders just sitting on these cars. Why not give the kid a break and help a budding car lover?”
The capitalist in me says that those “hoarders” are within their right to own and store as many cars as they please. In fact, if one millionaire chooses to buy every available ’67 Mustang and have each one crushed into a tiny cube, he might be the world’s biggest douchebag, but he too is completely within his right to do so.
While I am in no way advocating the destruction or even condoning the deterioration of our muscle car history (I have and vocally implore all such “hoarders” to open their doors to car enthusiasts willing to purchase any such cars that they are willing to part with), I do believe that this kid is sorely mistaken in assuming that all such people are robbing others (i.e. him) of an opportunity.
“I’m not trying to rob anyone of their precious automobile, but rather looking for someone who wants to give their car to a new owner who is going to treat it with as much, or more respect than they did.”
He explored the topic of respect further, noting “I think the car will gain value (more on this later – Ed.) having been passed on to someone who knows how to respect an automobile.” Yet, this kid prefaces this very statement with the admission, “I can’t say I’ve spent all that much time under a hood.” While we’re left scratching our heads as to his definition of “respect,” our would-be car enthusiast boasts that he would – we can only presume lovingly – “drive the sh*t out of it.”
It is customary when one is in a position of asking, to not blatantly insult the people one is looking to receive from. When this kid claims, “Times have changed since the ‘ol days; I grew up in the suburbs with a focus on school work and succeeding, and never had a chance to get a hold of an old beaut and put in numerous hours keeping ‘er alive,” he is not only are insulting 1) those older car lovers implying that they are either trapped in nostalgia or “out of touch,” but 2) those who struggle to not only pay their mortgages, provide for their families, work a full-time job, be good spouses and loving parents, and still get their project car up and running.
This child does not know what respect is because he does not know how to give it.
Finally, our would-be car owner claims that, “I am not looking for any particular make or model.” Unfortunately, I’m all but certain that if some charitable hobbyist offered him a T-topped ’85 Cutlass they’ve got rotting in their backyard, this ingrate will rudely turn down the offer, because beneath the saccharine-sweet veneer is a kid looking to be handed the keys to a ’68 RS/SS Camaro.
After all, as he states, “I could go out and buy a $5,000 used 1969 MGB, but it wouldn’t be the same; it needs to mean something more,” it’s pretty clear that by “mean something,” he really is implying, “be worth a lot more money.”
So I’ll do ya one better, kid. Just to show that I’m not some heartless jerk, I’ll help you out. Why not email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll set you up as a news freelancer. You’re not going to get rich, but you can earn some decent scratch and buy your own project car, and maybe learn how to work on one.
Light ‘em up,