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Drive Funky

Have you ever been driving and someone pulls a move so egregious it moves you beyond spicy words learned under the car and just leaves your face looking like you just caught a whiff of your brother-in-law’s drawers? I call that driving stinky. Now, I admit I’ve made some moves in traffic I’m less than proud of. But as I’m getting older and gaining perspective, I’ve found a practice I’d like to share: Driving Funky.

Driving Funky is not stinky. Funky is near stinky, maybe used to be stinky, but not an affront to the senses. It’s the feeling of connection to your chosen machine and driving with enlightened synthesis. It’s the groove you feel winding the wheel back and forth, nailing apexes and feeding just the right amount of fuel as you gain space away from a turn. Maybe it’s the way you approach an off-road trail, the gusto with which you rip your handbrake, or whatever makes you feel a visceral attachment to your vehicle.

Driving Funky is not just driving your vehicle as an extension of yourself, but the most open and expressive version of you.

It’s a banality to mention that these cars are often considered art. From a perspective that appreciates industrial design, contemporary or otherwise, to a tastefully sculpted custom or hot rod, let’s not forget that owning and driving is an extension of that art. Act like it!

Drive like no one is watching, where no one is actually watching. When you’re on public roads, just remember we all represent each other as a collective of automotive enthusiasts. So, next time you’re pulling out of your local motor carriage and caffeine event, act like you’ve been there before (don’t make anyone call a tow truck).

I took my three-year-old to the park the other day. As we were walking to the playground, she wanted me to pick her up and carry her. My hands were full, so I suggested she walk with me to the playground. An older dad is observing us nearby, and mentions that he just sent his oldest off to college, “I’d hold her as often as she lets you.”

You’re driving something that not everyone gets to see every day. It takes a special set of skills and knowledge to keep these works rolling. Whether your driving inspiration comes from Don Garlits or Initial D, lay it down on the asphalt.

Recently, I had an opportunity to take some long drives out in the Texas Hill Country. As I’m hustling my personal luxury 70s-mobile along eroded limestone mesas and across cypress and live oak tree obfuscated rivers and creeks, I lament that I’m not out enjoying the natural environment as would be expected by fishing, tubing, or other such. To prove to myself that I’m having fun, I over eagerly supply a tad too much fuel to my freshly rebuilt Edelbrock four-barrel out of a turn and feel the stock Buick 350 lug with overindulgence. I realize I am enjoying the scenery exactly as I please: through the windshield of my trusty Buick. Since whipping my wheel through the back-county roads is a recreation that I enjoy so much, I might as well hoon to my heart’s content.

I’m also reminded how much these cars immerse you in the elements on this drive. The dearth of insulation and abundance of trim help exaggerate the car’s heat and noise, giving an almost opposite sauna experience. You still get sweaty, it’s hot but pretty loud and physically involved. I love the bench seat, but I can tell the foam isn’t really what it used to be and doesn’t have much to offer by way of support. This makes tighter turns more abdominally demanding. But these physically demanding results of the presentation of the car make you work a little harder for your enjoyment. It seems the more effort is put in, the more reward can be reaped. In true “slow car fast” tradition, you don’t really have to break the speed limit to have a good time.

We have an obligation to our commuting comrades to behave ourselves and our fellow automotive acolytes to drive like we mean it.

Whether your weekend car be a Pierce-Arrow or a Pontiac Fiero, someone, at one time or another, saw the car, and breathed to themselves, “fuck yeah.” Drive for that person. (Even if it’s just you; shout out to the Jeep folks out there!) The car community has given me so much to say, “fuck yeah,” about. You may have seen roadside examples of car comrades helping each other out. That people can find jobs in the automotive industry where they go to press launches and complain about the shrimp served is amazing. Equally as amazing are the folks at meetups who let kids (or kids at heart. Surely I’m not alone here: I’ve sat on enough upturned five-gallon buckets in heaps of ‘projects’ to justify wanting to sit in a completed example) sit in their freshly restored Hudson.

Let your driving be a celebration of the car. Allow yourself to enjoy it.


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