I'm old enough to remember when driving fast was cool.
I came after the American Graffiti era, of course; but when I saw the American Graffiti movie in the theater, none of it was strange to me. We'd tinker with our elderly American cars, and occasionally we'd race. We lived in podunk. We raced right on the spur of the superhighway that was just finished that started noplace and ended nowhere. At night you could do any damn thing on that road. The police didn't even bother to go there.
I still remember the sort of sinking feeling we got the first time we opened up a car hood and saw this sort of metal octopus atop the engine block. No more tweaking the points and condenser, tinkering with the carburetor, nothing. It was all idiot stickers and towel bar air dams on ricers after that.
Racing, real racing, made a kind of sense then too. It's like its contemporary, country music. Neither one is worth a crap now, because they are just a shiny plastic imitation of the chrome and dirt thing they replaced. They are both so popular that no one goes there any more. No one like me, anyway.
With racing, it ended, like so many things, when too much was achieved. At first, there was an interesting race to innovate the technical aspects of the car and marry it to a maniac driver that had been running moonshine ten minutes before. Now third generation metrosexuals in footie pajamas covered with mercenary scout patches drive cars that are engineered to make sure they don't go too fast. Too fast? There's no such thing. Not one of them could beat me home on Friday night after work. Country music died when it forgot what the hell country the "Country" was referring to. And no, I'm not "Ready For Some Football," you penthouse hayseed.
A car is just a box to ride around in now. It has the vibe of a European tram, if it has a vibe at all. I don't even understand the need for "cars" anymore. A two door car is a joke to me now. A vehicle is a utilitarian device. People talk with disdain about "SUVs" as if they're wasteful or something. They're just station wagons. At least they function as what they are, a big cart to haul people and things in. What's a Pontiac Sunfire, exactly? And everyday cars are all different brands of ugly, more or less. Face facts. A F-150 Lightning pick-up truck will blow the doors off a sports car. The speed limit is 65. What's it all for?
You could make a whole bowl of cereal if you went through the backseat cushions of our little wagon, and you could fit that wagon inside my truck. Our vehicles are there to do things. Not be things. Do things. How can they hope to capture your imagination? Every third song on the radio then was about a car. Every third song on the radio now is ... more than I'd care to listen to. We traded Wolfman Jack for Rush Limbaugh.
Cars? I remember fondly when we wondered only what was possible. And what we could get away with. It's over. Face it.