Ghosts of LeMons Future

I am fully aware that cars do not have real personalities past what the owner bestows upon them. However, I have this nasty habit of not seeing the vehicle as simply an assemblage of bolts, sheet metal and fluids. I typically see the interaction of a car and driver as a partnership that is meant to continually support and challenge each other. That’s why, when I came across this article pontificating the top 10 LeMons vehicles of 2029, it kind of made me sad.

I looked over all the selections of performance cars, gleaming through the lens of a highly trained photographer at staged locations with perfect lighting and realized that one day, each one of these pristine, airbrushed models would  be neglected, crushed or possibly completely bastardized by a bunch of miscreants on a budget.

All of these cars were, at one time, new and sitting on a showroom floor. Their purchase was likely fretted over by someone looking for the best compromise of everything they wanted in a car, an outward expression of who they were or who they wanted to be.

I’m not talking about the appliances, the Camrys, the Accords and mini-vans purchased by people who hate cars. I’m talking about those rides that people are proud to own. Maybe it is their first new car. They breathe deeply and inhale that new car smell as they drive it off the lot. Perhaps it is a young driver’s first car ever, pleased not only by the feeling of acceleration, but the overwhelming security of freedom that the car represents in America.

For many, they care deeply for their new car; washing and waxing it frequently, customizing it with little touches to separate it from the others that are no longer exactly like it on the road. Some throw ridiculous sums of money into their cars, modifying them to meet their particular lifestyle, be it a new stereo or a complete engine overhaul. The car represents them and they want people to know.

They have their pictures taken in front of their new car, smiling a toothy grin with arms outstretched in a gracious gesture that “this is mine!”

They use their new car to impress their crush.

Their car makes them feel good about themselves.

They cherish and personify this rolling work of art in steel, glass, plastic and rubber.

Then, slowly, the car means a little less to them. The washings get less frequent, the maintenance is delayed. They start ignoring those little problems that earlier would have been cause for a mechanic’s visit. They start to look around for a new partner for the road and eventually, when the time is right, their one-time companion becomes a burden and collateral for a trade-in.

As I looked over those gleaming roadsters, sedans and coupes, I realized that this would eventually be each one’s fate. We race a Miata at LeMons. Actually, three Miatas welded and bolted together. I know, if for no other reason than the impracticality of the car, that someone loved each one. How many trips did these little roadsters make up the coast with the top down? Were they symbols of youthful indulgence or maybe a mid-life crisis?

Once I realized that each of these cars is going to die anyway, I began to cheer up. What better way to go out than as a race car? True, it is cheap racing and there’s more cardboard than carbon fiber, but what more could a dying soul ask for than to go out in a blaze of glory rather than the slow decay of time and oxidation?

Even if I’m not racing in the 2029 24 Hours of LeMons, I look forward to seeing these ivory towers of automotive technology become the rolling crapheeps that I know they can be. Good luck, future racers.

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