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August 02, 2006

Rusting Car Porn

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

There are one too many kinds of car fans, I think.

Well, maybe more than one. But I'm in a venting mood and can't be bothered to do the research.

I can relate to classic-car aficionados. No way can I afford to buy, restore and maintain an old Packard let alone a Delage or Cord 812. But I do like dropping in at the Pebble Beach Concours every few years.

And I am not now and never have been a hot-rodder. Matter of fact, I cringe every time I see a kustom kar that by all rights should have been carefully restored. (I ask you: When's the last time you saw a totally stock 1949 Mercury on the street? Case closed.) Still, I can understand the motivation of a hot rodder.

Where I draw the line is getting one's jollies from pictures of abandoned, rusting old cars. It seems almost like porn. Only this porn doesn't come in brown wrappers. It's actually advertised in car magazines and takes the form of color calendars.

Or editorial content. The late, lamented (well, I lament the magazine as edited by Michael Lamm -- not so much by other editors) Special-Interest Autos would sometimes devote two or three pages to black & white photos of a bunch of old Hudsons and Studebakers rusting away in an Indiana farmer's field or somesuch place.

This is the sort of depiction:

abandoned cars.jpg

Yes, yes I'm probably the weird one. But I just can't understand why such pictures are appealing to enough people that magazine editors carve out part of the editorial hole for them and calendar publishers gin up press runs of the stuff.

Dammit! those cars deserve a good home!!

[Pausing in reflection]

Could it be ...? Yes. It pains me to admit it. I'm sounding just like those people who have the urge to take in stray cats.



posted by Donald at August 2, 2006


Maybe I can understand the attraction. I have a photo book of pictures of old, abandoned diners, motor lodges and filling stations that once served Route 66. Its not porn, but I love to gaze at the photos and think about all the people who once ate, slept or filled at these places. I try to imagine what the buildings looked like new, and what the people talked about (Truman?, Sinatra?, the Dodgers?). And, yes, I think about the transitory nature of life. Maybe that's what the old car calendars are about.

Posted by: Alanw on August 2, 2006 6:07 PM

Cars that are sufficiently decrepit to be featured in Rusting Car Porn generally are beyond hope of restoration at a non-astronomical cost. Rather than just junking them, they might as well be put to artistic use.

Posted by: Peter on August 2, 2006 7:15 PM

I love it.

Posted by: Jonathan on August 2, 2006 10:16 PM

A case of 2blowhards serendipity. Just yesterday I was driving down the road and passed an old Chevy rusting in the weeds. Maybe for us Americans it's the equivalent of Proust's madeleine. There's something about it. A pang in the heart. Shane. Come back, Shane. Come ba....

Posted by: ricpic on August 3, 2006 11:31 AM

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