We welcome a new contributor today, Robert Morey of British Sports Car Consulting. Robert is a long time friend and car lover, and he brings us a remembrances of the old homestead and vintage cars. Hopefully Robert’s contributions will be a regular occurrence here, and your feedback and comments are both welcome and requested.
There’s Always Better by Robert Morey
I remember my great grandmother’s chairs. They were huge. Seemingly the size of a car, but perhaps this was due to my size as these are some of my earliest memories.
The enormous overstuffed chairs had comforters of the “grandma knitted them” variety draped over them in several layers, and this made the already over padded appearance even more inviting. Never mind the fact that those chairs were situated like the wagons of the Wild West around the also huge and perpetually hot, wood burning stove.
This scene was not from a movie. It was real and I feel lucky (and frankly a little amazed) to have absorbed so much of it before rooms like this vanished from our world.
The flue rose out of the stove vertically for a foot or so then traveled sideways across the room to one of those decorative ornate rings we still sometimes see in old houses we tour on the interior wall of a chimney we wouldn’t dare use now with out contacting a historian, a chimney specialist and possibly contractors.
I know the house still stands but it is no longer part of my family. One can be sure that at some point, long long ago, it has been updated with a stove that would seem like something like a prop from the set of Star Trek to my great grandma, but to us is normal. Further it is likely said stove has been updated many times by now.
But is it better?
The room was warm and the food hot. We were happy, and our lives seemed so rich. I don’t recall the old men who most certainly were outside with calloused hands swinging well worn axes at countless cords of wood to keep that stove going, but is the new stove really ” better”?
I draw this comparison for the benefit of those alleged car enthusiast who are tempted to modernize (it’s me here, so read “destroy”) his vintage sports car. Just how vintage is it now with a 5-speed and an iPod hook up?
Ok, that’s tough on you huh? (Perhaps you really do need a Toyota.) Well your TD/Austin/Triumph doesn’t have a 5th gear and it’s buzzy at highway speeds. So now you have taken a modern-ish and soon to be even more difficult to source parts for gearbox and made your MG TD or whatever capable of reaching modern highway speed.
But wait, that car was not designed to go that fast! As a matter of fact it’s actually downright dangerous!
So now you have done a conversion to front disc brakes, but wait! It still has the aerodynamics of a barn, and at any speed the thing has all the crash protection of a cardboard suitcase.
At least when you were toddling along at a breathtaking 52.3 MPH people smiled and waved as they passed while veering far too close while taking smart phone pictures.
But now you have created a veritable death trap (those lap belts are securely fastened to that oil soaked wood floor aren’t they?) with speedy gear ratios and horridly antiquated yet upgraded-to-1960s-spec disc brakes (but still with 1950’s suspension and it’s inherent characteristics).
And now people find your attempts to keep the pace a challenge! All the while you are still an easy victory for any teenager with a lowly econo-box.
People please, take heed. Keep the vintage car experience just that. Vintage.
Truth be told I would dearly love to experience that long lost wood stove one winter day. That room of warmth again, and nothing could make it richer than getting there in a vintage car that not only looks but also feels the part!