Clutching an Illusion

A vintage drive is still the best conveyance for transporting a mood.  Mine, the tempo for today, will be an effort to avoid the soiling of virgins.  A 50 mile drive through scenic high desert country, Patagonia, AZ to Tubac, AZ, in a late model Chevy truck is little consolation to the original plan: driving a 1972 plain jane, Mercedes diesel sedan to visit with Airstream royalty.

Sidelined with a burnt clutch, my Snow White remains at rest, while I suffer the ignominy of public parking, internally portraying myself as the dwarf, Grumpy, at a local Santa Cruz County Car Show.

The sad princess, at home, awaiting a pressure plate, throw-out bearing and clutch slave cylinder

On the cusp of Alumafiesta 2013 in Tucson, I’m privileged to join the event planners; their last gasp of relaxation before the kick-off on Tuesday.  Forget the Super Bowl, where millions of idiots turn on the TV to watch ads, the staff of R&B Productions called an audible….”let’s go to a car show”.

On a country club driving range, a sunny 70F in early February, thousands come to view 500+ wheeled vehicles of every ilk; a ritual about wishes and memories and generations holding hands.  An antidote to future shock, a reminder that the world got along perfectly without microwaves and spray paint and gourmet coffee and cellphones and cruise control.   It is a shining sanctuary from the possible, where every street and neighborhood and architectural element is Hispanic.  The attendees, mostly upper-middle class elderly gringos, silver-haired refugees from cooler climes, are living reminders that not only is winning the only thing, it isn’t even necessary.

The ultimate example of the fin crazed madness of the late 50s, eighteen + feet of 1959 Cadillac El Dorado, precipitated this dialogue.

“When this car was built you were only this big”……..” Nahh, you’re kidding, really ?”

Constant comparison with better old days are illusory and unreliable.  An older German man has driven his ponton, ’roundbody’, 1960 Benz 190 sedan, an anemic performer with the erotic buttocks of a biergarten fraulein.

84 HP, zero-60 mph by sunset


Overheard at every car show, the admonition, ‘ oh look, we ( may sub family, uncle, brother-in-law, grandfather) used to have one of those.’  And yes, I, too, owned a 1958 220S roundbody sedan from 1993-2007.  We called her Daisy.  After Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), in the memorable movie of an old Buick chauffeured by Morgan Freeman.  Drove it to work every day during the summers, transported my daughter to her wedding, reveled in the Teutonic precision, and lusted over the dated pre-WWII styling.  In another irony, I opted to sell Daisy because of a tempermental vacuum operated clutch that I had grown to dislike.

Daisy, at a local mausoleum, the day before she left for the Orient.

The purchaser, an Asian mall developer, shipped our jewel to Hong Kong, where she now resides, suspended on a rotating platform in the atrium of a large shopping center.  A shameful fate, I still harbor guilt that she is no longer allowed to drive.  Like having a tubal ligation before a fertility rite.

On my way home now, imagining the 2001 Silverado I’m driving is a vintage ride, I enter a U.S. border patrol checkpoint, am racially profiled, and summarily allowed to pass through quickly.  Being an anglo geezer has its perks.


Prompting a Yogi Berra-like thought;

nostalgia isn’t what it used to be