The Sociopath's Guide to Owning and Maintaining Classic Cars
I'm just like most of you currently reading this: functionally useless to society in any kind of meaningful fashion. If you're anything like me, you're not particularly handy, productive, mechanically inclined or even allowed to vote in most states. That's likely because we didn't have anybody in our lives that was there to teach us these things: How to fix appliances, build a shed, when it is and is not acceptable to urinate on a police officer or, in my particular case, how to work on classic cars. And that's a damn shame too, because from approximately 1960 to 1979, the United States built some of the most beautiful objects in the world.
And yet, despite lacking the knowledge to love them up close and personal, elbow deep in their sweet hot fluids, I still loved them from a distance, in the proverbial bushes while watching them shower. It's a seemingly impossible feat to cross over from the mental viewpoint of “terrified peasant riding inside some kind of mystical mechanical dragon” to “car guy,” so I figured I'd document my own (likely doomed) attempt to cross the techno-wizardry barrier, and maybe along the way, I can help a few folks by relaying what I've learned so far in owning and maintaining a classic car.
Picking the Right Car for You
Acquiring the Proper Tools
FUN FACT: A “tranny” can also mean “transmission.” See? It's all related.You show me one single real man who uses any actual tools to fix his car, and I'll show you a guy with a working vehicle, most of his fingers, both eyes and no class.
Your First Project
"Everybody knows those damn Samoans farm inferior uranium!"Feel free to improvise, and with any luck, you'll mostly be left alone. However, if you do find yourself with enough drunken confidence to do some actual work, pick something simple and preferably unnecessary to the overall operation of the car. I chose the brakes. On older model American cars, brakes were more of a polite gesture than a vital function. It was simply courteous to try and apply them if you found yourself hurtling towards the mailman--like holding the “door open” button on an elevator when you see somebody coming through the lobby; it's probably not going to work, but it's important to look like you're trying. If you ever actually needed to stop, you just aimed for a building. Americans bought cars like new jeans: a few sizes too big, because they're going to shrink through regular use. Which is why your older car is probably going to have the less effective “drum brakes” installed. Drum brakes differ substantially from our modern “disc brakes” in that they look much more like Dr. Theopolis from
Ed.: For those of you not currently making antiquated references to nerd shows, he was the talking Pimp Clock that the Dick Robot wore.Once you're done laughing drunkenly at this realization and doing your best Twiki impression, consult your service manual. For example, mine tells me that I need to “bleed” the brakes, and that's easy enough. You want to go to your kitchen and grab the sharpest knife you have. Everybody knows robots are heavily armored and don't feel pain, so that means you're gonna have to go for the eyes.
Attend Classes, Network with Friends and Neighbors
So You've Murdered a Cyclist
"Look, there's even a little alcove for good ol' Rex!"
So You've Murdered Two Cyclists
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots, or you can wait for next week's column: A Serial Rapists Guide to Home Ownership and Repair.