When I finally got my Dodge Diplomat out of the paint booth, the 360 in fine tune and the four-speed shifting nice and slick, I couldn’t have been more proud of a machine. How did I celebrate? By romping and stomping the newly dark blue beast around the roads near Fort Hood, burning gas with a smile on my face. Friday afternoon, I’d change out of uniform and go get lost for hours. I probably put a thousand miles on that car in a matter of maybe two weeks. And in the eyes of people who knew me, it made absolutely no sense. The Diplomat was not my only vehicle. I had three…in addition to the ex-cop car, I had a 1984 Dodge truck and a 2001 Dodge truck. Tag was not hurting for something to drive…so why was I always driving the car that I was building as a hot rod?
One individual in particular loved to ask that question under specific circumstances. He understood driving as a pleasure activity and had no issue hitting the road for a nice cruise. But one night, after hanging the tail end out on some back road somewhere, he wanted to know why I was still giving the car a good bootful of throttle instead of taking it easy on a classic. Keep in mind, it was probably the only time anybody I dealt with daily from that time period ever referred to a 1987 Diplomat as a “classic”.
The answer is simple and honestly, arrogant: because I damn well want to. It’s my car, it’s my money, and it’s my time. I didn’t paint the car just to keep it permamently pretty. I didn’t buy a hot-rod cop car to just mildly cruise it. I bought the car to enjoy, and I paid for the paint so it wasn’t well-roasted light blue. Pretty much every car during my military days got ran in some way, shape or form. And the questions would pop up every time. Why did I take the Buick to the strip. Why did I burn the tires off of the Monte Carlo leaving work the other night. Why is the Chevelle so loud. Why in God’s name did you buy that…what is that, “Mirada”? Is that a Canadian car?
It is difficult to mind your own business sometimes when you feel like you know what’s better for someone. When this same friend bought a Corvette, I wanted him to learn how to drive it fast properly instead of seeing him turn off traction control before proceeding to whip a donut without trying. When new guys bought newer cars and paid out the yang for them, I wanted them to at least keep up maintenance and appearances and to not let the cars go to hell in a handbasket. Just like I couldn’t change their ways, they couldn’t change mine.
You built your junk to enjoy. Go enjoy it. Don’t pussyfoot around, don’t spare the rod. Every now and then, crack the blades open wide and let the world hear you.