The Steering Column: We All Need a Car Buddy
For most of my life I have been the default “car guy” in my social circleS. I’ve always been the guy people go to for car advice, car repair, or when they’re in need of a ride, especially when I was in high school. As a kid working on my Chevelle, I was either alone or with my dad. Actually, now that I think about it, most of the time that I worked on cars is when I was completely alone.
I generally run a pair of headphones under my shirt to the iPod in my pocket, and in that form I can pretty easily kill a 12 hour session in the garage. The thing is though, I really don’t work best alone. I don’t even particularly like to work alone. I’m far more creative when I have someone to bounce ideas off of, and when I get stuck on something, it generally takes me ten times longer to figure it out my own than with someone there to help me; thanks mainly to the hours I waste on forums trying to find the answer to my issue. I think that I am in need of a car buddy, and the reason I think that is that I know what I’m missing out on.
As a kid, I did have one car guy buddy that I could go to to talk cars, dream cars, race cars, and generally do car stuff with. We were friends back in high school, but since we weren’t in the same class we only hung out after school. His name was Aaron, and the only reason I even met him in the first place is because he drove a red ’66 Mustang coupe with a 289, a Holley 600, a 4-speed, and some really funky wheels that I’ve never seen on another car anywhere else.
Aaron’s Mustang didn’t look all that bad from 20 feet out, but underneath it was nothing but a showcase of what winter road salt can do to steel. It was literally a field of rust bunnies all holding hands.
The 289 sounded really cool though through it’s side exit exhaust though, and it was definitely the coolest car in the parking lot until my Chevelle showed up, of course. Somehow Aaron kept that Mustang on the road while beating the snot out of it, and he even had to park it for 6 months once to put a new rear frame into it (which he made completely from scratch).
Despite the fact that we did not see each other often Aaron and I became really good friends. To date, he is the best driver I’ve ever seen, and he can literally fix anything. He is the only person I trust to drive my car hard, and he’ll give you the shirt off of his back.
Oddly enough, we’ve both lost our license a number of times for “exceeding the speed limit,” and we even attended driver improvement school together once. Even though we live 100 miles apart today we still talk at least once a month, and for the past couple of years we’ve done the Power Tour together. Last summer I was putting a new 5-speed in the car before the trip, and I had to cut the floor up to make room for it.
I had new sheetmetal to put in place, but no welder to weld it in with. I am also the world’s worst welder, so I was getting a little worried that the trip couldn’t happen. I had no one to call in town, but when I told Aaron about it he told me to fret not. He threw a welder in the back of his truck, drove two hours to my house after he got off of work, welded my floor all together nice and neat, and then drive two hours back home. I think he slept 2 hours that night. Good friend, indeed.
When I was pondering what to write for this month’s column I kept coming back to how great it is to have Aaron as a friend. He’s really my only go-to car-buddy when I think about it, and was the first one that I thought of going on something like the Hot Rod Power Tour with.
The only real issue that we have on the trip is that we both love to drive about as much as we love breathing air, so we just try our best to keep it as 50/50 as possible. Aaron did sell his old red Mustang a long time ago, but a few years back he bought another ’66 coupe that is really solid. It does not run yet, but we’re planning to go through it and race each other in the Silver State Classic sometime in the future. I literally cannot wait to start wrenching on it with him.
So, in the end, I think that what I really needed is for Aaron to move next door to me. I’m sick of missing out. We all need a good car buddy.