My wife comes from a family of, and I mean this in the nicest way possible,
gearheads. Her 50-something parents just bought a sports car. I constantly
hear family conversations about stock-car racing, engine overhauls and what
kind of wrench delivers the most torque. And though my father-in-law has
never openly admitted it, I think he's a little disappointed his daughter
married someone who thinks "headers" is a soccer term.
My wife, gleefully knowing I have no idea what she's talking about, sometimes mentions "glass packs," "dual exhaust" and "four-barrel carburetors" in the course of a conversation. Apparently these are parts of a car. Not one that I have ever owned, however.
They say you can tell a lot about a man's personality by the type of car he drives. If so, that would define me as slow, rusty and hopelessly out of date. Which isn't surprising, considering my taste in cars falls toward the frugal end of the spectrum. My wife, on the other hand, would categorize it as embarrassingly cheap. I'd buy a sandbox on four wheels if it was priced under $1,000 and someone told me it got good gas mileage.
To give you an idea, I once bought an ugly 1973 Honda Civic for $1,000. I then spent almost $2,000 on repairs and sold it a year later for $325-so I'd have the funds to buy something even more hip: an AMC Pacer.
My wife called it "a fish bowl on wheels" and was mortified to be seen anywhere near it. Yet of all the cars I've owned, it remains my favorite. Those distinctive wrap-around windows. The dissolved paint on the roof due to a previous owner's bizarre chemical accident. The engine with all the power of a portable sewing machine. All of those features-plus the $700 price tag-made the Pacer a natural for me. I drove it until a part called the "brain" wore out. At least that's what my in-laws told me. I half-expected them to say my car also needed new lungs. Thinking back on it, I suspect they made it all up just so I'd unload the car.1