Thirty-one years ago, your esteemed managing editor first came into this world in a Syracuse, New York hospital. Over the years, numerous half-finished projects, wires dangling from dashboards and car parts littering the homes of family and friends have stood testament to his preoccupation with all things automotive, along with piles of repair manuals, magazines and sales literature. Needless to say, few people ever saw fit to encourage such infatuation with any car-related gifts–quelle dommage!
Now you might be asking yourselves, what does this horror movie poster have to do with cars? Well, in addition to matching the title of this post, the film features cars quite prominently. One of its first scenes features a race over a drawbridge with a 240Z, an early VW Rabbit, a BMW 2002, a Harley-Davidson Sportster, a C3 ‘Vette and finally, a Trans Am which *just* makes it over the quickly widening gap. There’s also a death scene featuring a very grand looking 1974-ish Thunderbird falling into the river through the center of the same bridge. And that doesn’t include all the other excellent car spotting over its ninety-ish minutes. If ever there’s a horror flick for car lovers, it’s this campy Canadian gem from 1981, and not Christine.
Anyway, as the high-schoolers (played by thirty-year-olds) in that movie were spoiled with auto-related purchases, I would enjoy the same. I even have a very specific desire for upgraded control arms and bushings ($250) to go with the Koni Yellow shocks and Eibach springs (don’t worry, they only lower the car by about a half an inch) I bought for my 2000 Civic, named Delores, two years ago. At about $400-$600 bucks, the shocks and springs deserve fresh components to go with them (I can’t very well pair new shocks with bushings that will deform upon encountering the greater loads forced on them). Of course, nursing school got in the way of their installation.
Yes, dear readers, this is what I drive, hence her intentionally dowdy name. Speed isn’t as important to me as the ability to go around corners, and the potential for very good handling is there; the limits just need to be raised. Getting to sixty in slightly less than ten seconds and topping out at an indicated 115-ish, my car is just on the right side of being officially slow, and if I keep the little 1.6 on the boil, I fairly fly past most other sedately driven cars. Eventually, though, I get to thinking about other upgrades. A B18 engine from an Integra? A VTEC head and shorter final drive from an EX? Hey–why don’t I just get a new car??
Well, two Christmases ago, I almost replaced Delores with this grey market 230E, which had a third of its 210k miles, but even though it ran very nicely (it was surprisingly spry, even with the automatic) it was a rusty treasure which would’ve turned a wish list for upgrades into a source of resentment from loved ones who’d eventually find themselves asked to buy such exciting items as fuel-injector O-rings or brake lines just for the privilege of seeing me on my birthday. My friends and family certainly appreciate the fact that I write about cars, but when it comes to actually spending money on an old one, the understanding ceases.
In actuality, I’d never expect an expensive gift to help me upgrade my car; I’ll buy my own damn control arms! But Delores will be a part of my life even if I get another car, and any small contribution which would help me in my efforts to bring her up to snuff would make the nicest gift I could ever hope for. I suspect that for a number of you, the thought of modifying a Honda (yes, they can be tastefully modified–it’s just very rare) is unsavory. But I’ll bet a number of you would love to see family or friends go in together on a new headliner or vinyl top, or maybe a rare trim piece. Or perhaps a simple detailing of your car would mean a lot more than a day at the spa (a common gift).
The best gifts are those which express a genuine understanding of your personality and preferences, and even the most modest offering can mean the world. It is rare for many of us to receive such consideration, though, and I’ll fully admit to being very inept at choosing gifts for others–there’s a reason gag gifts are a popular phenomenon. Still, some of us get lucky from time to time. For those of you who’ve been blessed with car-related gifts in the past, which have been your favorite? And for those of you who haven’t, what currently tops your wish list?