A Song of Ice and Fire

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Winter is coming…

Without going too Ned Stark, it’s getting towards that time of year again. This time two weeks ago, we were just home from Titanic Dubs. When the show season ends, what do us car types do? For many of us, winter is a time for work, work, work, to add to our cars, fix niggling problems, perhaps freshen up bits and pieces, or maybe even a complete reinvention.

I am really looking forward to getting stuck back into the cars this year, but damn our workshop is cold! I mean really cold. At one time we had a space heater, but it was very loud and temperamental. There is a little stove at the back of the shed but unfortunately with a car parked in front of it, it doesn’t throw out much heat.

Sometimes I wonder, why do I do this? Why do we all do this? All over the country there are car enthusiasts freezing their asses off in cold garages over the winter. Numb toes and freezing ears. Sore fingers trying to work around cars and hurting yourself. Bashing your knuckles, cutting lumps out of your hands on wheel hubs because your numb hands become so uncoordinated. Late nights after a long day working your regular job. Coming home stinking and greasy and knowing that tomorrow you’ll probably be doing it all over again.
One of my abiding memories of the workshop is wet sanding isopon in the dead of winter and alternating between soaking wet, cold hands and just not being able to feel them at all. Most nights I am fantasising about a hot shower after about an hour, I have even found myself singing “Oh, I just can’t wait to be clean!” (To the tune of the Lion King’s ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’)
The funny thing about it is that we don’t have to do this stuff. Sometimes, we’re servicing, or making necessary repairs because we need the car to drive to work. But a lot of the time it’s modifying, spraying, smoothing, or fitting silly wheels. All non-essential stuff that we just do because we love it. And that’s the answer to why we do it. Because we love cars, whether it be Jap, Euro or American, performance mods or silly lows, bagged or static, old or new.

Even for me, someone who is supposed to be “good with the words” it is very hard to articulate, to myself, never mind someone who doesn’t have the ‘madness’ why this is. I suppose it’s the same with a lot of hobbies and interests, you can’t say exactly why you like something, you just do. Some people like some things, some people don’t. Most people see cars simply as a tool – a necessity, but only as a way to get from A to B. People like us see something else – freedom, fun, potential even a character. All our cars have their own personality and sometimes quite annoying ‘quirks!’

Personally, the bug bit me at an early age. I was only a toddler when I helped my dad change the engine in a 2CV van (well I handed him tools anyway!) I always enjoyed messing about in the garage; the smell of WD40 brings back memories like nothing else. I had a field bike as a child, graduated to a scooter and a bike at 16, and got my car licence at 17. I loved driving, in fact I still do, but back then the freedom and excitement of having my own car was the best feeling in the world! My wee Nova, just needed her scrapyard alloys, Kenwood head unit and Halfords special Carbon Fibre gear knob and I thought I was the doggy’s rude bits.
For me the smell of burning metal is the defining smell of the Shed Sixty2 workshop. The Nova was the first car Connor and I worked on together up there and it needed a lot of cutting and welding. Recently, cutting out the front panel, the hot metal smell of the grinder brought loads of memories flooding back and gave me a real happy feeling. We’ve had some brilliant nights, messing with cars, chatting, drinking and laughing with friends.

We all get disheartened sometimes. I’ve spilled more than a few tears in the workshop when it all goes wrong, on a late night just before a show, we’ve all been there. The Vento has given me a lot of grey hairs, between spraying disasters, mysterious electrical problems and worrying and hoping that the adapters and jeep offset were going to work. That’s not to mention Connor’s Polo which has been ‘almost’ ready so many times!

I’ve heard people say they’re ‘quitting the scene’ or ‘getting too old.’ Even I’ve threatened to jack it all in for a more modern car with standard suspension for handiness and comfort. I never mean it, though it sometimes feels like I do at the time! Once the disease has you in its grasp, it doesn’t let go easily! Cars bought as daily drivers, not to be touched, are soon lowered and tweaked and before you know it you’ve put in a lot more money than you meant to.
I’ll never get back the money I’ve spent on cars. Most of us won’t. We might turn a few quid on parts now and then but only a lucky few will ever make money at this game. Even people who do manage it sometimes end up sickened of working at cars as a job all day and going home not wanting to look at their own. But we still spend money; enjoying our cars, going to shows, modifying, or just driving out to car parks at night with our mates. At the end of the day why not spend it on something you love? You can’t take it with you.

We are petrol heads, enthusiasts (insane?) call us what you want. We have a passion for our hobby, a shared interest that helps us meet new people and make friends for life. Sometimes it’s the pride of seeing the car polished up at a show and remembering the blood, sweat and tears that have gone into it that makes it all worthwhile. I’ll be digging out my thermals and heading to the workshop this winter. I don’t have to, but I want to. I know a lot of people will be doing the same. So when its 2am and you’re freezing in the garage and nothing is going right, just remember that there are a load of eejits all over the place doing the same and that you love it really. See you all in the spring!

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Lee

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