ACT clutch

The year is 1993 or so. My family moved to a small suburb of Atlanta. One that still had a rural feel to it at the time. I could ride my bike at all hours of the day without having to look both ways to cross the street. And no one was worried about little 5 year old David getting kidnapped. When I wasn’t on my bike, I was playing with the variety of RC cars my dad had given me. Or – the literal hundreds of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars he’d bought me ever since I was 6-months-old. In our bonus room upstairs, he’d built a large 8×5 ft table for our hobbies. That room was decorated with automotive posters that I can still vividly see to this day. A yellow Porsche 911 photographed on reflective surface graced the the wall it shared with the large bay windows. A white Lamborghini Countach & a red Lamborghini Diablo both sat adjacent from the aforementioned hobby table. There were several others stuck around the room. Life… was good.

I played with my Hot Wheels track sets that my dad bought from Toys-R-Us.

We’d lay them out on our table, amongst the hobby store train sets we built together. I had a knack for tearing things apart and figuring out how to put them back together… usually with dad’s help & encouragement. Mechanical things seemed fascinating to me. The fact that humans strapped themselves engines and/or rockets to push limits was awe-inspiring. I can still picture the little blue ’67 Ford Mustang toy car I favored. Or the random Jeep Wrangler key & key chain my dad gave me… to a vehicle we never owned. I’m still not sure how he came to possess it. And just like any country boy from a small town in East Texas, I still vividly remember the Brown F-150 John Deere toy set that came complete with a trailer & tractor my parents gifted me during a road trip back home. How a young me yearned to own one someday amongst a very short list of vehicles. 

If you grew up the way I did, you had a stack of magazines from all facets of automotive culture.

You read every page and imagined building a car that would use the parts you saw for sale in those adverts you drooled over. It was all amazing to you – hot rods, import, lowriders, mini trucks, sports cars, race cars, and Bigfoot lol. You not only knew where all the cool cars in your area were, but you knew who owned them. 

While other kids got excited about going to Disney or Universal… you got excited when your parents booked a trip to a town hosting a massive car show… and then pretended like it was a surprise & they didn’t know it was happening. You made a yearly trip to the Atlanta International Car Show with your dad and walked every-single-inch of that building… drooling over the new vehicles & ogling at the then “wild” concepts that seem mundane in today’s technology-ridden world. 

People who grew up like us were oddballs amongst their peers.

While the other kids certainly liked cars & knew the popular models, we LOVED them. We were obsessed. While others see a car as just a means to get from Point A to B. Enthusiasts focus on the core of the vehicle, we know information that would go over the average Joe’s head. We reference different models of vehicles by their chassis designation instead of their model name. Watching my wife’s face when I do that instead of just saying Jeep Wrangler or BMW 3-Series is always a joy. 

As the industry changes, I find myself chasing the nostalgia of my youth.

I never foresaw a day where magazines would be dead and everything would be digital. Likewise, I never foresaw the growth of ADHD, pardon me, chaotic YouTube Channels and social media pages take my peace while taking-over the industry I love. And where entire youth-driven movements like mini trucks or audio systems would just vanish from existence to be replaced by… nothing. A day where just going out to cruise has become virtually un-relatable to today’s youth. 

I envisioned a future where technology would make cool cars even cooler. But instead, the entire concept of cool has lost potency. Government + the automotive industry has misapplied technology to overcomplicate cars to a satirically dumb level… while killing the driving experience & the unique therapeutic freedom of vehicles. There’s a reason some vehicles never lost their luster & always rise to the top of almost any enthusiast list. Yet – enthusiasts as a whole are losing numbers, and/or losing their way.

I do find hope sometimes though…

There are still people in the industry who are driven by the same nostalgia. Every time we get the release of a cool new car that beat the odds & made it to market with a manual option & some vibrancy… it breaks the rules of conformity. And there’s a flashback to that wild/exciting future we envisioned… and the wild/exciting past we came from. Those niche teams within the the big corporate cogs… those are the real unsung heroes helping us to keep the dream and passion alive. 

You know, thinking back to when I was a kid: My favorite vehicles were the 9th-gen F-150’s (like Bigfoot), any 60’s Mustang, Jeep Wrangler YJ’s (especially from Jurassic Park), and the 1991 Porsche 911 Turbo that graced that wall in my bonus room. If that young kid were to meet me today, I think he’d still have the same dreams. I think he’d especially love that a few of our dream-vehicles have been checked-off the acquisition list… and that a couple Japanese legends were added along the way. But most of all, I think he’d instantaneously reassure me that my nostalgia is real… not embellished… and he’d remind me to stay true to what we love. 

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