One Man's Rant: Don’t hand me that wrench, please

I’m amazed by the number of gear heads and classic vehicles in and around Chino Valley. I used to visit all the classic car shows. It was especially fun to watch all that beautiful metal gather during warm-weather Friday nights at McDonald’s here in town. But I stopped going; I drooled down the front to too many shirts.

Sadly, my skill-set never did include auto mechanics. Well, I could change spark plugs, condenser points and oil on the 1959 Ford that was my first car. Shortly after that, my auto tinkering career faded away.

For several years, I owned a 1989 Mazda RX-7 convertible. You know, the car with the Wankel rotary engine. It was red. Those were the days. I’d drive top down with the Eagles blasting “Hotel California” through the CD player. The blare of the music and roar of the dual exhaust competed pleasantly for a totally nifty driving experience. Seventy-miles-an-hour wind riffling through my hair was an added pleasure.

Then I ran out of hair and sold the car. Now I can’t even find my Eagles CD.

On the bright side, I’ve recently discovered a couple of dedicated auto buffs who are my neighbors here in Country West and who actually know what to do with a wrench. For example, Terry owns a 1974 Big Block Chevy Nova powered by 461 cubic inches of outrage under the hood. I jokingly asked him if he could scoot it over to Walgreens in under seven seconds. He wasn’t amused.

He didn’t just buy his Nova off a car lot. He cleverly assembled the body, engine and transmission himself. I wanted to ask him a deeply technical question about his favorite differential gear ratio or frimulus-gradial coil setting, but I was just a little intimidated.

Terry mentioned that he’s used the phrase “Till death us part” twice in his life — once at his wedding and again, with regard to his Chevy Nova.

And then there’s John. Some of us can remember our first love back in the days of our youth. Mine was a 17-year-old young lady with a soft voice and a laugh that…but, eh, that’s another column. John’s first love reportedly had eight cylinders and 352 cubic inches of displacement. He hooked up with his first 352 Ford pickup truck when he was 16. Then in 2010, he acquired the cherry 1965 Ford pickup that sits in his carport today. Coincidentally, it also has his beloved 352 engine.

After exchanging pleasantries at his home recently, he lifted the hood of his metallic burgundy beauty and with palpable pride showed me the chromed power plant beneath. I was impressed by the pristine engine compartment as well as the spotless exterior finish of the vehicle. We both were basking in the glow of mechanized magnificence when I, as a probable result of ill-breeding, pointed out a thin film of dust that had accumulated on the underside of the hood. Considering that John is considerably larger and more fit than I am, it’s fortunate that he is also a gentle, forgiving man, so I am still ambulatory.

Among other questions, I asked John to describe his relationship with his treasured truck. He said something about preferring to lose a leg than to give up this particular ride. A rather typical man/machine attitude, I thought.

Finally, I asked John what advice he would give to someone thinking of acquiring a classic car. He thoughtfully suggested that such a person should have patience. Perseverance. Time. And lots and lots of cash.

Sounds like a perfect hobby to me!

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