Sunday, November 6, 2016

Old Fashioned Fun

When I was younger I really enjoyed all things motorized.  I've owned two Jaguar 3.8 litre Moss crunch-box E-types, a Fiat 124 Sport Coupe (the pretty one, not the post 1970 style), four Ducati's (one rubber band drive and three bevel-drive), several Moto Guzzi, Moto Morini, three Yamaha RD 400's and a pretty Yamaha 650 Seca (not the ugly turbo-Seca).  It seems there's been more than my fair share of fun sitting the garage.

Moving to Europe included our conscious effort to lead a car-free life.  Spell check wants to correct that to carefree life, but I put it correctly in the first place.  Hopefully we're not naive enough to believe we could have no cares simply by changing location.  No cars?  Yes.  No cares?  No.  We intentionally lead a car-free existence here.  There's enough CO2 in the atmosphere without our contributing to it, too.  Or something like that.  Have I mentioned how crazy the traffic is here?

Returning to the US to help my father clear out a few things and to attend a wedding put us squarely at odds with our car-free ideals.  In America if you don't have an automobile it can be really difficult to get around.  And where we were headed it might even be impossible to get there without one.  Once there, an automobile was essential.

It didn't take me long to remember where my youthful passion for cars and bikes came from.  My father has his own small collection of toys that he roundly loves.  This includes my Great Uncle's 1931 Ford Model A Deluxe Roadster, a 1965 Chevy Corvair 140 Monza (with four carbs), and a newer BMW Z4 decapote.  He wanted me to drive all of them as a way of sharing the fun.  So drive we did.  Oh gods! what fun we had.

The Ford Model A required double clutching when changing gears.  The brakes are weak, but the top speed is most comfortable at 45mph or less.  The steering is a little vague and the seats are rather close to the dashboard.  Those Large of Girth need not apply.  They can't fit.

The Chevrolet Corvair 140 Monza has a nice flat 6 cylinder air cooled engine.  This car has a rather lumpy (semi-race) cam, too.  It sounds great and goes well enough until you want to stop.  At which point you really (and I do mean really) need to stand on the brakes.  It felt like my foot was trying to move a brick.  The speed was difficult to scrub.

The BMW Z4 is a thoroughly modern vehicle.  It brakes well.  It steers perfectly.  It goes like stink.  I learned this one evening on our way to dinner.  Dad told me to drive as he played navigator.  My brother and Jude followed in Conrad's car.  Dad said "punch it."  My brother and wife quickly disappeared from the rearview mirror and we gobbled up the road at a very great rate of knots (thank you Henry Manney III).

OK.  So automobiling can be fun.  It can be a whole lot of fun, in fact.  Sharing the experience with my father was one of the highlights of my trip.  The smile on my face told Jude that after returning home a cute little Citroen 2CV might be somewhere in our future.

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