Friday, July 18, 2014

A Gearhead and proud of it!

I've been doing blogs for almost 4 years now so it's only appropriate that my 4th offering be a little different.  I've written about video games, information technology, job hunting and even current events.  In other words, anything that struck my fancy except for the one passion that frequently makes me question what I do for a living.

I've often said that I can be working on my cars and lose hours in a day without noticing it.  Whereas working in IT means spending most of my days being painfully aware of every second that slowly ticks by.  

I like to be doing things, moving forward, making things better and know I'm moving toward a goal.  IT can offer that but only if you've got an active project. 

It's the primary reason that I consider myself a "Gearhead" which is pretty much the same thing as a "Petrolhead" everywhere else in the world.  I think there's one distinct difference, however. 

It strikes me that most people who call themselves petrolheads tend more toward the driving experience than turning wrenches.  Gearheads like to get their hands dirty and they'll be the first to tell you so.  

That I can watch a popular UK series like Top Gear and see a Mercedes sedan called a "Muscle Car" is an indicator of either a misunderstanding of the term or a completely different definition.  

In my view, Mercedes never made a "Muscle Car."

Hey, I appreciate that getting a 5000 pound car to hit 60 Miles per hour in less than 6 seconds is an accomplishment.  But doing it while seated in heated Italian leather seating "surfaces" while enjoying every conceivable mobile amenity is the realm of luxury.  Muscle cars are about going fast and not much more.  

We coined the term in America in the 60's and the legends that it came to be applied to definitely left most of the options on the order sheet blank.  In fact even air conditioning was considered luxury back then. Gearheads don't mind a little sweat.  

With those cars you were probably going to be sweating anyway as they weren't the most reliable vehicles and many a Saturday night was spent under the hood.  

So maybe there is a difference in terminology but the love of all things that move under their own power is the same.  So I can claim that kinship even if I don't agree with all the terminology.

Gearheads don't mind getting their hands dirty, in fact they prefer it.  They enjoy a more spirited means of getting from point A to B just like their petrolhead counterparts but it's far more enjoyable if they know they've had a hand in making the drive happen.

Nothing is more discouraging to a gearhead than popping the hood and finding a bunch of stuff they can't fix.  Engineered obsolescence has been around since the days of the Model T but in the past few decades it's been downright hostile to our kind.

Cramped engine compartments stuffed with engine covers and beauty pieces designed to hide all those "ugly bits."  Pop the hood (or bonnet) of many European cars these days and you'd be hard pressed to find the engine let alone identify how many cylinders it has.  Some are so shrouded in covers and useless trim that you'd be excused if you thought you were looking at the trunk (or boot for my UK readers.)  

That doesn't stop the determined gearhead. however.

For us "stock" isn't good enough.  We're going to figure out a way to go faster, get better mileage and look cooler than the next guy.  If we can do all three it's even better.  

We wear high mileage like a badge of honor.  100,000 mile trade-ins are for wimps.  Real gearheads can get at least twice that before they give up on their ride, assuming they ever do.

We can point to those little victories that come with fixing it ourselves with a pride that other people get from kicking the winning goal or receiving a university degree.

Which means gearheads are forever chasing the win (or the wind in some cases) and we'll do whatever it takes to have our fix.  

So I've drawn a line in the sand.  If you don't enjoy working on your car as much as you do driving it you're not a gearhead, you're an enthusiast and that's fine.  I'll have stuff that will appeal to you as well.

So I start this new blog with a new gearhead mantra...

If it ain't broke you're not looking hard enough!


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