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Lost to Time

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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As time moves on we lose so much about the past.

While we often — but not always — keep a record of major events and other significant people and things, one of the first and most important things to go by the wayside is context — the environment that influenced those events, people, and things. The truth is, is that context is actually more important than the "important thing," because it creates not just a pithy bit of trivia knowledge, but understanding.

As an example, go back a century and frequent rebuilding of major components was a part of the normal service life of a vehicle.

Fast forward 50 years and infrequent rebuilding of major components was still a normal part of service.

Today, we just toss the junk in a heap and get a new one when something wears out.

Why we do and did what we do and did is often lost to time, replaced by some one dimensional explanation, often in the form of folk tales that people cling to and re-interpret over time until all meaning is lost, but that never really reflected the actual forces at play to begin with.

Such as, people didn't rebuild things as a normal part of the service life of their vehicle because the cars were built so well that we kept them longer. No, they were built like crap and had to be rebuilt regularly because of it.

That is historical fact.

The reason for infrequent rebuilds in the '50s, '60s, and '70s is that the cars improved and worked for longer before wearing out, not because we got more prone to throwing stuff away.

Today we toss stuff aside for a lot of reasons — losing interest and other negative motivations aside — one is that they last an incredibly long time. Another is that they are incredibly expensive to rebuild. Still more is that we can't afford to have unreliable transportation because losing even one day of work due to a major vehicle failure could mean losing your job.

I often find myself at odds with the modern world — it's the truth and one I'm completely at peace with. I genuinely like the reasons I'm at odds with it.

One of those reasons is that I appreciate a lifestyle with a little more permanence in it. As an example, if I choose a car, I choose it because I like it — and I'm not going to stop liking it 10 years from now. When it wears out, I'm going to rebuild it and continue to enjoy it — not throw it away.

Which is probably pretty evident from my automotive pastime.

My Grandfather's '67 El Camino, the newly re-christened El Camino, is of the infrequent rebuild generation. Consequently, even though it has low miles, the engine has already been rebuilt, which helps make this project potentially the easiest of the non-running cars I own.

This week I've completed writing up the project to rebuild it, Project: Homage.

You can head over to the Car Projects section and find it under the El Camino.

I hope you're enjoying your own car project(s) — until next week.


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