Red and Obnoxious
February 7, 2013— There is a chauvinist saying that goes—“if it’s got tits or tires, it’s going to give you trouble.” The statement may have a shred of truth because all relationships (whether with a person or car) require maintenance, and yes, they're difficult. But the trouble with tires (and the vehicles they are attached to) is frequently caused by our need to supercharge/lower/raise/install a new stereo/take the turn using only a handbrake/etc…
Be honest with yourself: remember your first BIG lapse in judgment behind the wheel? Most of us get our license and decide to push our luck just a bit further. Maybe it’s driving home from school, work or late at night when that twisty road leading to your neighborhood is empty.
For me, my first really exciting-, negatively speaking, car moment came with some friends in my 1994 Ford Mustang GT. I bought this car new and it was my pride and joy. I loved this thing! It was red and much like me, obnoxious. I did burnouts at virtually every intersection. I still remember ordering it on December 13, 1993. It was delivered during the February snows. With 215 horsepower and 285 pound/feet of torque I thought I’d be able to reach the moon.
A few months later on a humid July night, my friends and I were hanging out, bored and restless after a couple of hours in someone’s basement. I suggested we go for a ride to “see what was going on,” and piled into the Red Rocket. Four of us in the Mustang, speeding from stop sign to stop sign. The MACH 460 system was blaring Susie Q by CCR and we were ripping through a muggy Washington DC suburb with split-level homes.
I held my hands out the window to try to cool them when the road was straight. We decided to head for 7-Eleven to buy some cold Slurpee’s or whatever. I mashed the gas, dropped the clutch, and we took off in a cloud of tire smoke (or was it clutch smoke?). Second gear. Pop the clutch! Tire squeal... Left turn coming up. Still on the gas. Consider third gear. Too late. Crank the wheel...
Not even close. The car turned but not enough. Understeer. We flew over the curb. Brakes. Brakes. BRAKES! And we came to rest, mercifully, before plowing into a mature maple. Somehow we had avoided another tree on the left. Massive understeer. My friend beside me was as pale as the moon. “Is everyone OK?” Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. “Dude,” someone said. That pretty much summed it up.
The car had three flat tires, three destroyed rims, and the front suspension was toast. Control arms, struts, etc, all ruined. It was an expensive lesson. And it could have been far worse. I’m grateful that the lawn was the only living thing hurt. But I learned my lesson—don’t go buy Slurpee’s on warm July evenings.
It did smarten me up though, if only marginally. What was your first failure with the rush of adrenaline and horsepower? Did it change you? [kiWO]