A Last Chance Power Drive

Every Sunday a number of older men congregate by the local coffee franchise with their custom vintage cars. They sit in their beach chairs and talk about…cars. They relish in the passers-bys’ compliments. Magnificent machines.

Back in LA I remember a similar crowd would assemble at the Bob’s Big Boy in the Valley, and of course these were the zenith of car collections. It all started there didn’t it – the custom car culture that Tom Wolfe wrote about so wonderfully in his book The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. 

The men assembled this morning were a good-natured bunch, sitting in the hot sun, basking in their handiwork. I asked to take some pictures, and they were happy to oblige. One of them said, “But not of us! Some of us may be wanted men!”

As I left and headed towards the water to enjoy beach activities, I was thinking about these men and their cars. I imagine they are of the age that would have made them eligible for the Vietnam War. I wondered where the next generation of vintage car enthusiasts will come from, or if they are a dying breed.

Times change. The car, the open road, Detroit: the realities and dreams that those words conjured defined America – its industry, fantasy, music, and spirit. America was “the car.” No longer. GM, Ford, Chrysler were either dismantled or bought by foreign car companies. Today, the association is indistinct.

When I was a kid my father went through a phase of collecting British cars: Aston Martin, Alvis, Jaguar, Bentley. They were exquisitely made – the day of the hand-made car has definitely departed – but they were temperamental to say the least. Unreliable would be a better word. We used to joke that our place was where British motors went to die. No one but my father drove them, that is if they started,and they were stick shift, which we all learned on but abandoned for the convenience of automatic. What a shame! Eventually those beautiful dreams were donated to charity.

Collectible cars may be moribund, but romanticism remains. The lure of the open road still beckons with all its promise and possibilities. I hope that never fades away.

 

So drive on. The road is waiting. You’re gonna get to that place
where you really wanna go.

Say hi to Bob for me…and be free.

Clare Irwin

 

 

Day 1

Welcome! I can’t say for sure what this site will be except that it will be about everything and anything and nothing much at all. I thought to start like a good blogger and begin at the beginning, and explain the name and  genesis of the site. I think I will save that for another time, and do what has been traditional for millennia and begin in the middle of things. Life is messy and disorganized so why should PHANOT (that is how I refer to the site) be any different?

Sunflower I was going to write about my recent experience of going to car dealerships to talk about leasing or buying a car. If you are a woman it may be 2016 out there – but it’s 1950 inside that dealership. I don’t care high high or low on the car scale you are searching. I encountered some odd frustrating and downright insulting incidents. However, the events of last night in Nice, France on Bastille Day are hanging heavy on my heart. I lived in France, in Paris, years ago. I was in love with a man, or thought I was, who had a house there. I remember my/our time there as safe and lovely and all the adjectives that are used to describe Paris. It was the Paris of Amelie not of Charlie Hebdo.

It’s too sad, beyond words what happened yesterday — while people were jubilant and enjoying the summer night. I know I shall take a minute, and more, today and give thanks that at least right now we are safe, and with our hearts and minds send our mercy and our higher selves to the people of France.

I am happy you have come to stop here for a bit I hope you share something with me and do return. Tomorrow will be something completely different. Humming La  Marseillaise…..

Clare Irwin

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