Assortedness du jour.

Have you ever done something that, at the time, you just KNEW would become some terrible thing you'd regret bitterly many years hence?

Well, I think I just had one of those.

NOS, who just turned ten -- and got a nasty case of strep throat on his birthday for his troubles -- has started to take an interest in the automotive form. I have a few rules about what sort of vehicle I want my sons driving.

My parents wanted me to drive a HUGE 1970s American tank of a car. And, regardless of my views on the matter, I did. At least I did so initially. But no matter. Their reasoning was that I ought be driving something which interposed as much metal between me and the outside world as was humanly possible. In looking over the specifications of my first couple of cars, I am speechless at the sheer mass and volume of them.

5000lbs/2300kg and flat expanses of sheetmetal that would better be put to use for landing aircraft. Huge.

Needless to say, I hated them. They were "plush" in the aesthetically stunted 1970s sense of the word. You weren't so much the driver as the "passenger-in-chief." But the idea was to keep me safe.

That's the idea I have for my kids' cars. Safe. But what I think of as safe is not what my parents thought of as safe. For a whole slew of reasons well afield of this post, I have no desire to saddle either lad with 2½ tons of barely responsive machinery. I don't think it's safe to have that sort of car.

So, what sort of car DO I want for them?

Glad you asked.

It has to have amazing brakes and amazing roadholding, and a safe structure designed to dissipate energy. Those 1970something behemoths seemed safe until you struck an immovable object, when you then realized the only deformable structure therein was the driver. The energy of an impact had to go somewhere and if it's not the brick wall, and not the 1974 Blimpmobile Virago...then it's the people inside who turn into "Spam in a can."

What it does NOT have is a lot of horsepower. Having been 16 my own bad self, I know that temptations are acceded to in direct proportion to the their accessible availability. I also don't want to be footing the fuel bill for a vehicle whose sole reason for being is to pass everything save a gas station. So nix the horsepower.

Also, because they will invariably run in circles where kids have ridiculously expensive cars given to them as gifts (Don't ask...just take this on faith. After all, this is Miami we're talking about.) the car also has to look cool...without costing me a kidney.

What we're talking about is a vintage-ish semi-sporty Euro something 2-door. Maybe a an Alfa or maybe a BMW from the mid1980s. Something with enough styling flash to stand out, enough prowess to avoid trouble, and enough structural integrity to survive any that cannot be avoided.

So, in discussing all this NOS asked for a specific car. This car, while more-or-less reasonable in today's market, is still mo' than I'm willing to pony up. Not dissuaded by my protest, he said "What if we buy one that's all beat up and we restore it together. Y'know, a father and son thing."

And I said yes, idiot that I am.

Given that I just spent about $120 on eBay for approximately a total 5 ounces of molded plastic, this doesn't bode well.

Maybe he'll forget?

-J.

Comments

LBA said…
Nice !!

I had to save for my own car, which I bought for just under $2k when I was 21yrs old. It was a '73 Honda Civic with round side mirrors.

Hardly in your class, but I loved it nonetheless :)

Why didn't you suggest a Volvo ?
"They're Boxy, but Safe"
KPB said…
Ha. Haha. Hahahahaahahaahhaaaa.

I'm only laughing because I can. Because I've got 10 years before we are exactly where you're at.
Stomper Girl said…
Awww. That is SO sweet. You and the boy tinkering away together. I didn't know you were mechanical.

I may not think it quite so sweet when Fixit and my boys start rebuilding motorbikes together in the shed...
MsCellania said…
At least your wife will always know where the 2 of you are: Online, scouring the planet for parts. Hey - isn't it too hot to work in the garage in your area? You are going to have to air condition the garage.

I think about our sons driving and instantly contemplate a move to Manhattan. Where driving involves ruthless Taxi-fetching skills.
Joke said…
H&B - My first few cars were all hand-me-downs and a Honda Civic would have been a spectacular improvement over the whole lot combined.

In fact, I'll do a list of the cars I have owned and you will herniate yourself laughing at those that came before the "real" cars.

The funny thing is that I have bought exactly ONE new car in all my life, and given the appalling experience with the dealership, I think that'll be that.

Kim - I'm 5 years away from having NOS drive (7 for NTS) but restoring a car, especially a "nonstandard" one, takes eons.

SG - I'm more of a "replacer" than a mechanic. I can take out a rusty bit and replace it with a shiny bit. For more complex operations, I have a special tool in my drawer: the credit card.

Ms - One of the things I will do with the biys is take them to the track for REAL instruction in car control, etc. Knowing these things has saved my hide more than once.

-J.
shula said…
Not bloddy likely, matey.
shula said…
The 12 yo has quite the eye for the vespers.

Makes me feel ill just thinking about it.
MsCellania said…
Oh, if we post First Cars, I'm in the runnin' with you!
My FIRST Car, evah:
1959 Anglia, white w/hyde-of-the-naugha interior, which I custom designed from the old interior. My father and I put in new rings and gaskets, and did some body work. We took the thing to Earl Shibe "I'll Paint Any Car for $29.95!" (yes! It was That Long Ago!) as they said they would sand it before painting it. Well, they didn't! So the Anglia had huge blobs of rough body work and was beyond ugly. I was constantly floating the valves, and the thing J U M P E D and lurched across intersections due to my crappy shifting abilities.
Beat that!
My float said…
My first car was a volkswagen which i bought for a few hundred (aussie) dollars and did up with my boyfriend. Sadly i broke up with my boyfriend and sold it to a dealer for about $4000 less than i spent on it.

I think your approach is sensible. Because here's the thing: as long as the car is being "done up", they can't drive anywhere. So that keeps them off the road just that little bit longer. As for your credit card, I can assure you it won't be looking quite so shiny after the purchase!!
LBA said…
Shite !

Blogger ate my 2nd comment .. have you seen this yet ?:

http://www.intuh.net/barnfinds/

If not, Enjoy !
Joke said…
It didn't eat it, you just poseted it elsewhere!

-J.
LBA said…
oh.

I am being a stupido at the moment ... gah !

Well?
you liked ?
Joke said…
If by "liked" you mean "grew embittered with seething envy" then yes.

-J.
Poppy Buxom said…
I suppose it's too much to ask for you to do the easy, normal, pleasant thing and 1) buy a better car for yourself and then 2) give NOS your hand-me-down?

Nah, forget it. Too pat; too simple.
Joke said…
1- A better car? A better car would entail a low-six figures investment.

2- Handing over the current car to NOS would mean he would be driving a car that, 20 years after it was built, could handily outaccelerate 95% of the cars out there and have a top speed of ~160mph.

He is a serious and responsible lad, but in 5-6 years' time, he may well be swimming in testosterone and, thus addled, a ridiculously fast car is "a near-occasion of sin."

-J.
Poppy Buxom said…
1. Well, it's not like you don't have enough lead time to get the money together. He's only ten.

2. I knew it it would be a HP issue. And I don't mean Harry Potter.

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