Seeing Life In The Inanimate

I have this way of seeing cars and I found out that someone was able to relate to me in how I feel. Sometimes when I walk a parking lot a car from an era past will tease me in the corner of my eye and make me look in it’s direction. I look over at the car and get my first impression from the condition of the bodywork. Sometimes the car is beat and weathered. Other times a project in progress. There are times when the gloss coat is so fresh and shiny that I get magnetized over in it’s direction. Most cases this is all that I get to see and leave when I’m done looking over the car. There are a few occasions where I get to talk to the owner, look under the hood, and get a better view of the interior. It’s interesting being able to talk to the people that own the cars as I can get some backstory of the car and get an idea of what his or her intentions for the vehicle are.

Car shows are a magnificent gathering of some old cars from past eras and new current cars that have seen love and care on obsessive levels. Pretty much everybody that brings a car cares about the condition of the vehicle and wants to preserve it for future generations to view and marvel at. For me being at a car show is like walking through a museum of sorts with up close and personal interactions with the vehicles and owners. You have the prewar classic cars from the teens to the 30’s that you never see anymore, jet age cars from the 40’s and 50’s with glorious details, fins, and all the chrome you can imagine. 60’s and early 70’s muscle and sports cars with the owners by the water cooler talking about the old days when everybody was driving them. Then there are the oddball cars from the 70’s – 90’s that a few people will stop and look over. Usually at this point somebody that owned one will stop and view it. Then you have the younger people bringing something from the 2000’s and 2010’s that they love and have modified in some way. In this same category people will bring their new immaculate sports cars fresh off the dealer lot for show.

It’s interesting going to a car show and talking with owners about the car they brought and learning about it’s past. Most occasions the story involves a total restoration to bring the car back to it’s former glory. Some are one owner original survivor cars in amazing condition. Some feature oddball options that make them unique or are special orders from the factory. Most of the cars I see at shows have some sort of a bright feeling of life in them. Some of that is probably contributed by the enthusiasm of the owner. The other part is the unique perspective I have.

Parking lot spots are a completely different deal. The car is usually lone in the midst of a row of modern cars. Sometimes it’s parked in the back of the lot with space all around. For the most part there is some sort of feeling of life I can feel coming from the car. Looking at the body I can get a general idea of how it was kept for. Looks can be deceiving and I can’t hear the engine run to get an idea of the true overall condition. With the owner around I can get a better idea of the overall condition and how the car was treated. There are times where a beat car is the basis of a project. It’s interesting to hear what the owner plans to do with the car if I can catch them nearby.

Lets not forget the cars that are left and forgotten to rot in a dark corner of a yard or field. For the most part the life had long faded from them as the earth weathers them down. There are quite a few out where I live and I can’t help but think about how long it will be before they rot into nothingness. Kinda saddening to see such potential go to waste. Most of the time I glance at these cars as I drive down the road. On the rare occasion I’ll actually leg my way over to the car and get a closer look.

I’ve been to a junkyard a few times and felt a feeling of sadness wash over me the first time I went. It was somewhat disturbing looking at all the wrecked and discarded cars out front. All I could think to myself was “oh dang” as I walked in to ask if there were any W bodies in the yard. A junkyard is basically a large graveyard of dead cars that will ultimately meet their demise by the crusher in a few months to a year. Any enthusiast will tell you that it’s a sad thing to hear about a good car ultimately meeting a fate like that.

If I could explain this way of looking at the inanimate in some way then I would describe it as a uniquely developed state of mind that happens to be unshakeable. Even though I know the workings of a car in and out I believe it’s a living breathing being of sorts. It has a story to tell and a certain character. That character can get better or worse with condition or age. Most people just see a car as something that gets them to work and back. I try to seek enjoyment each time I drive. I want to seek a characteristic of the car that makes it enjoyable to own and drive. What is it that makes this particular car great for what it is? Things like this are what I feel and seek when it comes to cars.

I don’t figure that this is a common viewpoint for most people. For most people things are things and people are people. The living are living and the inanimate are static objects. For me it’s a little different and I have to wonder…

…am I one of the strangest people around?


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