Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pimp Your Ride

Saw this interesting car recently, happily 'Mooing Along' down the highway...

This ride turned some heads downtown...

I think it was an old Chevy Malibu, a venerable old car from my teens. Adapted for modern urban transportation. Rollin' on Twenties, I believe is the jargon.

I'd 'Pimp' my ride, back in the mid 80's, by slapping on the fattest (probably used) tires and 'mags' my Big Y service clerk paycheck could buy. They'd go on whatever peice of crap 10 year old car I'd have on life-support at the time. A little $4 high octane boost down the gas tank, a little bit of Stop-Leak down the radiator, a little oil additive to quiet the ticking valves. A home-wired cassette-deck and the back speakers saved from a previous piece of crap. I could still smell the burning electrical tape as I'd crank up some Deep Purple, then pull the radio back out again and dig into the spaghetti of wires and connections, to see why the left front speaker wasn't working. I'd have the whole thing cranking by nightfall, and head out to find some fun.

Back then most of cars we kids had were from the 70's. Heavy on steel, and light on 'safety features'. Brake systems barely capable of their mission. Cars whose very weight would provide the safety, by using the immutable laws of physics. Cars like this:

Novas, Montes, Cutlasses. Former family cars. Old reliable horses, stolen from retirement and whipped unmercifully to their deaths, by anxious suburban kids with new-found freedoms and hormones.
Rust spots blooming or blossomed everywhere. Back bumper, rear quarter-panel, rocker panel or floorboard. Bondo and spray paint were ready in the garage, in the cardboard box with the octane boost.

The art of keeping your old car running and looking good, cheaply, is alive and well. Some things have changed though, like the the developement of tempered steel in automaking. When was the last time you've seen a real rust-bucket? Cars nowadays also routinely go over 150,000 miles, back then to reach 100k took a rebuild somewhere along the line. The engines, are smaller and more powerful. A common Toyota Camry from today could probably 'take' a Firebird from the seventies. Another interesting trend is super thin rubber on huge rims, the opposite of my day.

A couple trends that can't go away fast enough: First, those spinning hubcaps. That was cool for about 4 seconds, two years ago. But mainly, the brain thumping, mirror shaking, trunk rattling bass coming from that idiot in front of you, at the stoplight. Oh, to jam on the gas pedal in a big old 1976 Impala four door...

I suppose 'My Day' ended somewhere between the advent of the third brake light, and the invention of the Sub Woofer.


Tommy said...

Good nostalgia rush.

Mary E.Carey said...

I felt nostalgic for my family's string of Novas reading this, even though I wouldn't describe myself as a car person. When we first got to this area in 1994, I was driving a gas-guzzling, hand-me-down from a brother-in-law. It was a real character of a car, a BIG old something or other that even I recognized was a head-turner. Wish I was blogging back then so I'd have more than just my memories of it now.