Monday, September 20, 2010

A Road Trip Down Memory Lane

Are you liking but not loving your car?  Is it close but no cigar to the kind of performance you'd imagined?  Even if you don't know anything about horsepower or torque or pulling g's as you round a corner, TBG assures me that if you examine your tires your experience will be transformed. 

Really, you should believe him.  The man buys cars the way some people take vacations.  He loves them and they love him back.  They smile at him from the driveway and against the background of Lake Michigan and the Pacific Ocean and it's more than look at me look at me because anyone who knows him knows that that is the last thing this most private of people would ever want.  He's always been an under the radar kind of guy, proud of his accomplishments but never one to seek out attention beyond his immediate circle.  He's not driving them to show off; he'd like an invisibility cloak if the truth were told.  Nope, the man loves them as machines.  They are beautiful and functional works of art.  He was the only one in the family  who was not surprised to find a Ferrari on the 5th floor of MOMA. 

He understands the physics and the mechanics and the inter-relationship of all the parts and though he's tried to explain it to me I'm really not paying attention to more than the basics.  Structural integrity seems to be key, as is reliability.  Our first sports car was a 1978 British Racing Green MG with tan leather seats.  It was gorgeous.  It was fun.  It was just my size.  I had lusted for that exact make and model since I learned to distinguish between a Triumph and an MG and a Morgan.  It was just about perfect. 

What it didn't have was an engine that could be counted upon to get you home safely.  Tooling along the highway one frigid January afternoon, reveling in the fact that TBG had actually allowed me to get behind the wheel when he was occupying the passenger seat, I was brought back to reality by his screeching What the *^#** are you doing???????? As he pointed madly behind us to the flames coming out of some part of the back of our car I was more focused on the tachometer's rapid plunge from 3500 to 0.  I steered us over to the shoulder and we waited.  I'm not sure what we were waiting for.  The emergency phones were widely spaced and it was 30 or 40 below 0 and the wind was howling.  We were pretty far out in the country, and there wasn't much traffic... actually, there was no traffic.  After a while, he looked at me, I looked at him and we agreed - turn the key, but get ready to jump. 

Somehow, the engine turned over and we drove straight home.  The Service Department couldn't find anything amiss and we loved listening to Scott Joplin as we drove around Lake Geneva with the top down so we kept hoping that this behavior was something other than typical British automotive dysfunction but when it stalled 17 times between home and Rocky's apartment, we sold it to a man who wanted "a clean car for my wife."  The damn thing was nothing if not clean - it never went anywhere.  In reality, it wasn't a car.  It was a stereo with seats.  A very pretty stereo, but not much beyond that. 

So, this post which was going to be an ode to tires we have known, has become a trip down memory lane.  I'm sure I'll revisit our automotive adventures as the months go on.  For now, let me reiterate the original point: tires matter.  They are the interface between your self and the road.  Next time you fill up your tank, walk all the way around your chariot and notice the amount of tread that's left on the tires.  Drive to a tire shop first thing in the morning when your tires are cool and ask them to check the air pressure.  They'll be happy to oblige, without charge, hoping that you'll come back to buy your tires from them.  (Of course, I'm assuming that you don't live in New Jersey, where pumping your own gas is forbidden.  There, you should ask the person who's filling you up if he'll check the tires, too).  This is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that, according to our government
(u)nder-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
 We here in The Burrow care about our denizens and want you to stay safe and last longer, too.

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