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Malaise of Glory


#41

His divorce finalized months ago, Kevin was acutely aware that autumn was setting in. The days were getting shorter, the leaves laying dead on the ground. Kevin’s seasonal affect disorder, only served to exacerbate his self pity. Kevin had spent the last few months, taking whatever work that came his way, in order to occupy his thoughts; a tune-up here, a brake job there. Just now, Kevin finished cleaning his garage for the third time today.
As Kevin gazed over at the cot he had set up in the corner, next to the space heater and the mini-fridge. He thought to himself, perhaps a change of scenery might do him some good. He wondered if he might go back to Kuwait. Nope. Better yet, a run down to Florida might cheer him up. It was about that time of year, when the snowbirds head south for the season; Kevin might be able to get some work, as a porter, and write it off on his taxes.
Kevin’s thoughts began to wander back to when he was a kid, visiting his Grandma O’Reilly in Florida. She drove an old 1978 Wallys DePonte; the one with the opera window. He remembered when Grandma would make everyone pile in the car for supper, at 3:30 sharp - If you waited until 4:00, you were likely to stand outside, waiting an hour or more for a seat - and head down to the Amish restaurant; the one with the Christmas village upstairs, even though Christmas was months away.
Grandma O’Reilly kept her DePonte at her Florida home, driving it only between October and April; so it lasted quite a while. Kevin got to drive it, when he turned 16. It wasn’t particularly fast, despite its muscular pedigree, or its ridiculously huge engine displacement; but it handled quite sharply, considering its size and weight. The brakes could have been better, and Kevin was 90% sure that the left turn signal stuck - whenever he made a lane change, it would stay on, until the next time he had to turn - it had to be stuck, there’s no way Kevin would drive three or four blocks with his blinker on.
The shiny, spoked rims, gave it a look of class and elegance, but Kevin distinctly remembered, it was not really all that comfortable. One of the quirkies things, were the wires in the windshield that acted as the radio’s antenna; the ones, where the signal cut out whenever you went under an overpass.
Perhaps a couple of weeks in Florida would help brighten Kevin’s mood. It certainly couldn’t hurt, if he found some work to do there, too. Kevin reached into the mini-fridge, grabbed a cold one; one last drink, before he lay down on his cot, and turned the space heater to low.


#42

I know it’s irrelevant, but my brother, Kevin, had one of those.


#43

1978 Denver Quest Coupe

What’s that? A 140hp-ish coupe that has 6.0L pushrod V8 in it? Why yes, it is. Introducing 1978 Denver Quest, a stylish yet sporty coupe. Like the statements before, it has 6.0L pushrod V8 producing astonishing around 148hp as it was fitted with Two-way cataylic converter and a very detuned version to improve mileage on this beast.

Other than fuel-economy V8 engine, Quest is not an actually bad to drive. Sure it handles like a boat but atleast it’s not way too boaty like other cars did. Albeit some people complain about the exhaust leak problem as it was poorly made thus creating alot of sound and such.


#44

I want a number 9, a number 9 lord, a number 6 with extra dip,

2 numbers 47, one with cheese, and a laaarge soda.


#45

You picked the wrong word, fool


#46

Smoke, 'tis not my language, chill!


#47

The 1979 Birmingham 6000 Liftback, with a 4.6l V8 engine and a 3 speed automatic gearbox, this is the ultimate car for a 1990’s PE teacher.


#48

So…is this still going?


#49

Sorry, I’ve just been so busy. I tried getting some writing done over veterans day weekend, managed only one story. Thanksgiving was a no go. I suppose I could wrap this up, no pun intended, over xmas.


#50

Author’s Note:

I received yesterday, an anniversary badge. I got to thinking about where I was last year; I was working part time, and had a lot of free time, so I started participating in CSRs and Legacy challenges. Then things picked up, and I was working again, but then they began to slow down again. I thought I’d have all that free time I had last year, to host some sort of community event; but I needed some extra cash, and I got a second job. As usually happens, my second job (which I’ve worked off and on for 16 years, before starting at GM) ignored my personal boundaries, and started calling me in, on my days off; needing the money, and lacking a spine, I usually agree.
That’s not an excuse. I have neglected this, what I have created. I’ve left creators hanging. It’s time to wrap this up. I’ve prepared a review for the Vexatta Virage, that I will post today. I have @Mr.Computah Vega Saetta and @HybridTronny Denver Quest in queue. There are several entries on this page, for which I’ve not received a .car file. @Ragu, @Marcus_gt500, and @DukeOFhazards, if I can get those by Friday, Dec. 21, I will have some time to review and write.


#51

Life is prioritary man, so don’t sweat it. Good luck and I hope your situation improves ASAP! :smiley:


#52

It’s that time of year again. Kevin usually gets busiest, starting around Halloween, running through Christmas; all those folks, wanting their cars winterized. Kevin has barrels of various fluids, in his garage, waiting to be recycled. Oh well. He’ll get to that, eventually.
Right now, it was time to winterize Mr. Stanley’s car, a 1985 Vexata Virage. Once Kevin had it up on the hoist, he noticed something peculiar: It did not have a catalytic converter. It wasn’t cut out and replace with a piece of flex pipe, like Kevin’s dad used to do to all his trucks in the 1980s, it simply was not equipped with one. This was a direct import.
Ed Stanley had bought his Virage, and paid to have it imported - thanks to some bullshit chicken tax thing - as sort of a retirement present to himself, back in 2000. At the time, Mr. Stanley worked as a factory foreman, and made a pretty good living; this car was his pride and joy. Then the factory he worked at, went bankrupt, and Mr. Stanley lost his pension; having to live now, on social security alone. He was forced to sell his lakefront cabin, and now lives in the mobile home park. When his wife Karen died, he had to sell his diesel pickup to cover costs. Now, his classic, imported, European car - once only driven on weekends, and in parades - was his daily driver. Kevin winced as he imagined Mr. Stanley traversing those salty, pothole marked, Northern Michigan roads.


Kevin wondered how much Mr. Stanley pays each year, for lead additive; gasoline as well, at that. This car was kind of a beast in its day, and now it was 33 years older. He wondered if he should offer to buy Mr. Stanley’s car. Kevin knew of a few cheaper cars, that would reliably get Mr. Stanley to his appointments, and to see his grandkids, up in Traverse City. Kevin knew that he could give this once beautiful car, a fresh touch up, and a covered place to rest during the winter, that Mr. Stanley couldn’t. Then again, Mr. Stanley’s given up so much in his life, and he still seems proud of this car; it just might be, the one thing that keeps him going.
A full flush-and-fill, and a fresh set of snow tires later, Kevin returns the Virage to Mr. Stanley’s trailer home. Mr. Stanley opens up his checkbook, “how much do I owe you, Steve”.
“Nothing, Mr. Stanley.” Kevin tears up. Steve was his father’s name. “Merry Christmas.”


#53

“Relationships are weird”, Kevin thought, as he was opening his mail. An army friend had invited him to his wedding. Kevin was too busy, but he would send him a gift anyway. Truth is, Kevin was keeping himself busy; so busy wallowing in his self-pity, that he did not want to face someone else’s happy relationship.
Something Kevin never understood, hiss parents were so different, but in a way that complemented each other. Kevin and Beth, on the other hand, shared so many common interests. They both liked Italian food, cheesy soundtrack hits from the 1980s, Monty Python, and of course, going to the car shows on the weekend. They were the “same kind of weird”, as they liked to say, when they were dating. But that’s the thing; one day you’re finishing each other’s sandwiches, the next thing you know, you’re fat, and she tells you she’s never liked pickles. If only that were a metaphor, Kevin would have something comforting to tell himself.
Kevin supposed there were some differences; nothing he considered major. Take for example, the Denver Quest. Both Kevin and Beth, got a kick out of these cars. They were so anachronistic. Good looking cars, with great care taken over every piece of trim, white pleather, faux wood panels on the dash and radio; combined with a typically American, oversized engine under the hood, with corners taken at every opportunity. Beth particularly loved when the brothers from Grand Rapids would show off their custom paint and oversized flashy spinning rims, while Kevin liked his, much like he likes everything else, the same as it was thirty years ago.
Really though, did Beth not understand how much work it took to keep these cars going? The people who originally bought the Denver Quest, would drive the car, until the warranty was out, and then decide it was too much trouble to keep it any longer. Many of these cars would wind up in recycling yards, or some poor family would buy it, not realizing what they were in for, and then drive it until the engine blew. So few in tact specimens. An original Denver Quest, was a thing to behold.


The irony was not lost on Kevin. Sure, he could’ve put more work into his relationship. His parents sure put in the effort. Their marriage lasted two tours in 'Nam, a bankruptcy, house fire, and a stroke, before his dad finally passed. Sometimes though, you don’t realize there’s a problem, until you smell the burning oil; and then you’re like, “it’s a shame. It really is a good looking car, wish they’d take care of it.” At that point the valves are on their way out, and once that happens, it’s all over.
Kevin felt the valves went out a while ago in his relationship. Rather, than trying to rebuild them, he secluded himself in the only place he felt comfortable. A coping mechanism for sure, but was it a healthy one? Lining up more work, and finishing that one project, and starting the next one, seemed so much easier than dealing with the issues that had accumulated between them.


#54

“Today’s cars will never be classics.” Kevin remember the day his grandfather told him that, while he was riding in the old logging truck that he had rebuilt. Kevin, who was 8 years old at the time, reflected on the truth, this wise old man had laid before him. It was sad, really. All the classic vehicles his grandfather imparted wisdom on to his dad, and all the classic vehicles his dad had imparted wisdom onto him, and none for Kevin to impart wisdom on to his children some day.
Forty years later, those words echo. He was wrong of course, but how was he to know that? Some of the things he said were, and still hold valid. So many cars were made looking the same; many large car companies had badge engineered their vehicles, so that they could turn out 5 of the same model, with slightly more expensive trim, and charge more for them. A lot of cars were made with cheaper materials. In comparison, cars made in the 1970s and 1980s were just weak.
This was particularly true of cars, whose lineage went back to the 1960s, or earlier. Fuel economy standards, emissions, and insurance regulation, as well as a 55 mile per hour speed limit, all conspired to neuter many once proud models.


The Vega Saetta Mk4, was one of the cars trying to buck that trend. A 2+2 muscle coupe, trying to recapture its own youth. It wouldn’t seem like it at the time, there was a big to do about fuel injection replacing the traditional 4 barrel carburetor. The thing that made the Saetta stand out however, was its style. It attempted to bring back the essence of its original ancestor, in a time before retro, was a thing. It put up decent numbers, especially when put against its contemporaries.
The thing is, outside Vega, or being a Vega enthusiast, nobody could have definitively told you this car was destined to be a classic. Thirty-three years later, these things dominate the collector car circuit. Vega Saetta swap meets are a wild time indeed; original parts cost a small fortune. If his Grandfather were alive, Kevin wondered, what would he say about this?


#55

July 12, 1979, or more specifically, the morning after. Kevin was a young lad of nine, watching the morning news between his chores. He couldn’t understand why everyone was so mad at disco music that they felt the need to riot at a baseball game. True, Kevin didn’t listen to it, but his mother did. By the time Kevin came of age, disco was pretty much dead. Around the time he came back from Kuwait, it had started to make a comeback.
Kevin’s memories of that time were a little fuzzy, and definitely through the lens of a child. Around this time, people started blurting out French phrases for no reason; like ‘tres chic’ or ‘voulles vous coucher avec moi’. Commercials on TV, for American cars, for some reason, were touting European styling.
The Birmingham 6000 was one of those cars, that stood out for Kevin. To him, it was the epitome of everything disco. His mom even briefly drove one, borrowed from a friend, with a Donna Summer 8-track stuck in the player. The vinyl seats, plastic dashboard, and the ashtrays in the back of the front seats.
Kevin would get a chance to work on one, later in life. Ms. McIntosh, the high school women’s volleyball coach drove hers into auto shop one morning, almost literally. Her brakes needed work, and bad. It had 4 wheel disc brakes, which was quite unusual for American cars of the era. Must’ve been the European styling that the commercials were talking about; and all this time Kevin thought that was referring to the liftback design.


The class replaced the rotors, calipers, and the pads. They were really bad; “when was the last time she had these serviced?” Kevin remembered thinking. Possibly never.
Once the repairs were made, again it was up to Kevin to test it out. Perhaps Mr. Sykes trusted him the most, or maybe he’d miss him the least if something happened to him. Surprisingly, for as big as that rear end was, and all the empty space in the back, the car handled quite well. “If this was what it was like driving a French car”, Kevin thought, “then ooh-la-la.” Having learned his lesson with Mrs. Lane, Kevin knew to take the car far away from the school, to put it through its paces.
You don’t see too many Birmingham 6000s anymore. They weren’t too reliable. Also, much like disco music, random french, and escargot, Euro-styled American cars are a fad that come and go, with slightly different iterations. Finding an in tact example would be difficult, if not impossible.


#56

Northwoods was a poor town. Most of the people who lived there were on benefits in some form or another. You wouldn’t want to move there, many people just end up there. Such was the case with Kevin’s family. His dad had lost his job, when Buick City closed back in the 1970s, and did odd jobs, until he could no longer afford to live in Flint, and moved his family out to Northwoods. Over the next decade, they subsisted on welfare checks, whatever cash his dad could scrounge, helping other poor people with their cars, and student loan refunds his mother got for attending the nearby college. It wasn’t much, but they never went hungry, and their house was always warm.
Most kids, when they graduate, want to ‘get the hell out of Dodge’ so to speak. One of the most popular ways of doing this was by joining the army, right out of high school. For some kids like Kevin, and his older friend Ted Strauss, who did not feel the need to leave town, they’d take that recruitment bonus, and buy something extravagant. For Kevin, it was a small lot in town; the one where he’d eventually build his garage, after he returned. For Ted, a couple years earlier bought a brand new Schyster Greenwood.


Ted came home from basic training, proudly driving his shiny new car around town. He’d show all his friends, still in high school. Ted was prouder of that car than anything else. Kevin didn’t understand why. Ted was already a big shot at the time. He was the quarterback, and a straight A student. The Schyster Greenwood was a kind of average, everyday grocery getter. He guessed that Ted, the youngest of 5 boys, had spent so long in their shadows, that this was something that was finally his.
Ted left home a month later to head out to Fort Bragg, where he’d be stationed for the next year. He told his mom to take care of his car. A few months later, word came back that there had been a helicopter crash during a training exercise. Ted was on-board, and there were no survivors.
For the next fifteen years, Ted’s car sat in the same spot in the Strauss’s driveway. Mrs. Strauss could be seen on Sunday mornings washing her son’s car, while neglecting her own. One day, some kids were playing with a baseball, in the yard next door. One kid threw the ball too hard and broke the window. Kevin volunteered to replace it. As it sat in his shop, it felt eerie to sit in the driver seat, looking down at an odometer that read just 2500 miles, and a fuel gauge that showed half a tank of gas. The same half a tank Ted left it with all those years ago. Kevin wanted to make an offer to buy it, but Mrs. Strauss was just so upset at the broken window, he instead suggested putting the car in storage.
It was weird. The Shyster Greenwood was almost iconic in the fact that it hadn’t changed much during its run in the 1970s and 1980s. This car had remained unchanged well into 2012.
Turns out, it was a good idea to put the car in storage. That winter would go on to be the snowiest ever recorded, with at least 6 feet of snow on the ground at times; that would have easily collapsed the roof of that car. Later, in the spring, a tree was blown over in the Strauss’s yard, crushing Mrs. Strauss’s car, parked right were Ted’s car once sat. Mr. and Mrs. Strauss have moved since then, but they still keep Ted’s car, along with most of the stuff in his room from 1987, in a storage unit on M-20.


#57

These were all the cars I got files for. I’m going to take a break from this for right now. (so no more submissions at this time, please) I do feel that I would like to re-visit this, but I have a few projects I want to do first. (most importantly, buy/build a better rig to do this with, and test out LCV3)