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Hold on to that memory

The real essence of motoring is not the car

08/09/2013 06:58 |  Comments: 

Contributing editor

8 years of working for IBM have chiselled Balázs’s English skills to a level inappropriately high for this magazine, but did much to blunt his interest towards office work and computers. Earlier a reader and seldom contributor, also a deeply affected car maniac, he left IBM and joined us for a longer term as a journalist, but he’s back again to making money – at another IT company. Luckily he kept on writing for us and hasn’t dropped his love for photography either.

Thoughts provoked and memories brought back by a Skoda-meeting.

If you are a true gearhead, you'll know it's not the car. It's that bond, that special relationship that you have with a machine. You'll know that you have it when you start ignoring the cold, hard facts. You'll do so because if you didn't, you'd lose the very essence of true motoring, and through that, the true meaning of feeling and being alive. You'll laugh at those silly, ignorant, grey little men who tell you that what you see in front of you, what you're dreaming of and hold so close to your heart is just another product of some big corporation, with the sole purpose of making profit.

You'll ignore the fact that the reward for those hours of wear and tear, the non-stop grind of your daytime job, your salary is to be put to sensible use. Always. No exceptions. You'll laugh at the naysayers, because they don't understand. They will never truly be able to feel what you feel: that you are not trying to buy just another heap of junk, a one ton mix of metal, bolts and upholstery. You are not trying to buy anything, really, because it'd not be a purchase for you. You'd simply exchange the hours put in your job into memories and dreams.

You'll come to understand that the beauty of life is cherishing the memories of everyday little wonders that were and forever will be yours and yours only. Like the time when your father bought the family's first car and took you to school with it the next day. At that moment, no matter how young you were, you knew that your life would never be the same and great things, wonderful experiences and adventures were ahead. The door to all of those was opened by your father's car.

You'll think back to those times when you were sitting in the backseat with your brother, counting the red cars passing by, while your mother put her hand on your father's knee and smiled at him. She did so because she understood the change the car brought to her family. She realized it, even after she had spent evening after evening trying to talk your father out of buying a useless, expensive piece of machinery that they never needed, because they could always take the train or the bus for the family vacation. At that moment though, she understood that the freedom, the independence and the seclusion from fellow travellers that the car brought made the journey itself a part of the destination.

You'll remember the pride that you felt, that sense of importance and purpose, when your father made you Tool Manager of the family garage. You stood there beside him, with that serious look on your face that always made your grandma smile, being alert to be ready for when your father asks for the 13mm wrench. You rushed to the toolbox, picked it up and put it in his oily, worn and wrinkled hand that you loved to hold so much. Then you went to sleep with that satisfactory feeling of accomplishment, because you were an integral part of making the next day's family trip possible.

You'll remember the first time you picked up your date with your dad's car, and that first kiss you two had while parked at the end of that winding mountain road. You'll remember how heartbroken you were when at one time she told you take her home, and in front of her door she told you she had found someone else. You'll think back at how you shot out from her driveway and drove back to that mountain road, hardly seeing anything from the tears in your eyes. You still feel the anger and disappointment that made you push the car to the limit. Once again you'll experience the fear you felt when the car started going sideways in one of the corners, that sense of surprise and excitement you felt when you realized you managed to hold it like that, and the intoxicating feeling of triumph when you shot out at the end of that corner faster than when you went in.

You'll swallow your tears when you think back of the next day, when they rushed your father to the hospital and you picked up your mother from work to go to visit him. You'll remember how quiet and determined your mother was on the whole way, and how you thanked whatever higher power you believe in that you could hear your father's voice for one last time before he closed his eyes for all eternity that night. You'll think of that warm, sunny day when you drove the family to the funeral, and the painful feeling of closure the sale of your father's car meant just a week later.

And all of this, all these sweet and sorrow memories will rush through your mind in a blink of an eye, like freight train, hitting you in the head and warming your heart like nothing else could. And all of this will go through you because you'll look at the classified of a car like the one your father used to own. So you'll ignore all those critics with all their sense of superiority and ignorance, because they don't understand...and you'll buy the car.

You'll start working on it, go hunting for parts, chat on forums and go to club meetings. You will make a ton of new friends and a couple enemies. Your buddies will come over on Fridays to help you with the works, so that you can finish quicker and then the whole gang can go out for a drink at last. The next morning you'll go down to the garage, and you'll be sitting beside the car with your back against the wall, thinking about your father and his car, thinking about how different yours will be, and about the night before with your friends and that slight hangover it resulted in. But before you realize it, those Friday nights spent tinkering will become the social event, while the car becomes the campfire, keeping those friendships warm.

Then, after months spent in the garage, you'll take the car out for the first time. You'll be cautious at first. You'll listen to the noises it makes. You'll try to be as gentle as possible at the first couple of corners. You'll notice how different it is from your father's, yet his spirit is there with you all the way. And then, when you'll get back to the garage, you'll realize how true it is that it has soul. You'll see that all those modifications that you've made, all those worn, used parts that you had to use, all those compromises that you had to make, all the hours you spent with it gave it a personality. For you'll understand that all these little things made your car unique, since it will not drive, sound, handle or look like any other. You'll feel that serenity that you can only get when the hours put in blossom. You'll see your father in it and you'll see yourself as you take on his mantle with something that is your own. That is what will give your car soul. And then you'll understand the meaning of what your mother once told you: "Sometimes the destination is the journey itself."

You'll then understand that all those little things, those everyday experiences that many don't even notice are all little wonders in themselves, and are all moments to cherish, look back to, re-live and build upon. Then you'll know that is the true essence of motoring.

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