Living With a Lug Nut

You’ve read about the car mods, the power boosts, and the pure adrenaline rush of driving fast on curvy roads, but I am going to give you the real scoop – the joys of living with a lug nut. I will give you a random collection of observations and stories about the blood, sweat, and tears behind the quest for the ultimate driving machine. I am somewhat a newbie to the car scene. Sure, I have always dreamed of having a sports car or the classic Corvette, but hands-on was what I thought the
mechanic at the Toyota dealership did when he changed my oil. Eric got his Z28 right before we got married. I just thought it was awesome to drive around in a beautiful car. He washed it everyday and used only the best white, 100% cotton, made in the U.S.A. bath towels. So you can imagine what was going through my mind when we started unwrapping box after box of white bath towels at our wedding shower (They are packed away in a very safe place very far away from the car and Eric’s grubby little hands ). One lesson on the proper steps to wash the car without making swirl marks did me in. After what seemed like hours of washing, drying, and polishing, I now conveniently find another chore around the house when Eric mentions washing the car. When I do help, my job is rinsing, and believe me I never lay that water hose down long enough for Eric to put a towel in my hand.

After we got married, I actually got to know “the car I married into”. I started helping Eric work on the car, and we started attending local car shows and “gatherings”. From our travels, I have made an interesting observation: every F-body owner has one thing in common – they all make car noises when explaining anything about their car. The one sound that remains very consistent from one owner to the next is the same whining noise they all make to describe the wind-up of the two-stroke engine in a Ricer. After Eric got the exhaust cut-out, our car is so loud it drowns out the whining of the imports, and every head turns. What other car offers the sleek body style and the power of the F-body?

I would say that working on the car together has only made our marriage stronger. I have learned to never ask if anyone is okay until the initial pain has subsided. So, now I calmly and slowly count to ten and then start firing the questions: “Are you okay? Are you bleeding? Can you speak or breathe? What is your name?” When we work on the car, it may start out sunny, but the day never ends that way. It is always dark, cold, drizzling, or sometimes very windy. Yes, that’s right. During the LCA install, we were under the car trying to finish up while the weatherman was reporting a tornado warning. The dark clouds were swirling around in the sky, and I think I caught a glimpse of a woman flying by on a bicycle, laughing at us as she passed. Because we have a carport on our house, we are exposed to all the elements and all the people driving by wondering why we are working on our car once again. I asked Eric to postpone all installs until we got a garage, but he always seems to “con” me into another one. The funny thing with us is the installs always last hours longer than estimated, which is really cool for everyone else since they get the refined, no-bugs version write-up. Bad for me when I am wondering when the rain will quit, the tornado will blow over, or when I’ll warm up and feel my fingers again. I used to think that Camaros were not top sellers because of lack of advertising, but I now know the real reason. All the “non-sports car” owners drive by and see these cars up on ramps, and I am sure they automatically assume that the poor guy under the car just cannot keep his car running.

And the messes! Some of our installs would make EPA cringe with the oil spills, gas spills, and antifreeze spills. I am worried that any day they will come inspect and pronounce our house a superfund site. The other bad thing about not having a garage is you have to have some place to store the jacks, the ramps, the oil, the tools, and the stock parts. We have a small corner of the living room devoted to a mixture of shop towels, tools, and boxes. Driving down the track and easily inching ahead of the heavily-modded car in the other lane makes all the work worthwhile. It is so exciting to sit and watch the determination on Eric’s face and the look on the other driver’s face as our Camaro gives him a view of the license plate. As a passenger, I don’t miss anything and get to catch the action from every angle.

Some of the joys of driving a Camaro: 1) totally annihilating your first Mustang, 2) watching the desperate look on a Corvette owner’s face as you pass him in the right lane on the interstate, and 3) talking to the kids who dream of owning the same car someday. I recently ordered Eric a cake with a picture of the Camaro. It was really neat. I just took in a picture of the Camaro at the Dyno, and they converted it to paper the size of the cake as the decoration. When I took the cake up to the counter to pay, the young girl first said, “Who’s cake?” and followed with “ Oh, is that his dream car?” This was a moment to make any car owner feel warm inside. I smiled and replied, “No. That actually is his car. Beautiful, huh?”

Kelly Barger