The Challenge of Collector Car Ownership
- 05/14/2012 |
- by Karl Brauer |
- Karl on Cars / Karl's Cars
I had one of "those" moments recently. A moment where I questioned my dedication to collector car ownership.
The moment came when I realized the timing chain on my 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE had likely jumped a tooth. This happened while my wife was using the Challenger to ferry my kids home from school (I was borrowing her car). What sounded like a flooded carburetor at first soon showed itself to be a more serious problem once I got to the car and tried to start it. The slow engine cranking suggested maybe a fried starter or low battery. But I suspected a timing chain issue the more I cranked it over (with no succeful firing).
It was at this moment I found myself thinking, "You know, maybe it's time to sell this old car. And my old 1974 Pontiac Firebird Super Duty, too, even though it's running fine right now. I don't think I have the patience to deal with this crap anymore."
After exhausting my own diagnostic efforts I finally relented, called the flatbed (thank you Triple A) and had the Challenger transported to my local Mopar expert. Two hours later he called and confirmed my suspicions. "Your timing chain has jumped some gears."
But something funny happened as I watched the Challenger gettng loaded onto the flatbed truck.
Having washed it only a few days earlier, the Challenger's Plum Crazy paint gleamed in the afternoon sun. As I looked at the Dodge's sleek body lines and timeless proportions (not to mention that purple paint) I realized, again, why I've enjoyed these old cars since before I had a driver's license.
They display characteristics and convey emotions a modern automobile simply can't. As today's vehicle designers will confirm (if they are being honest), the shape of modern cars has become as much a reflection of regulations and legislation as a reflection of creative vision. This makes them far more aerodynamic, space efficient and safe than the iron sleds of 40 years ago.
And it means I have to own a classic car if I want a vehicle that reflects a period when cars were more than the sum of their regulatory parts. I'll be waiting not-so-patiently for the purple car's return from the shop.