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Intrepidation

This semi-regular column is written (in his own blood) by an automotive sage and noted malcontent, known as The Mechanic. Mercilessly beaten as a chil

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This semi-regular column is written (in his own blood) by an automotive sage and noted malcontent, known as The Mechanic. Mercilessly beaten as a child with rolled-up back issues of old car magazines, our free-spoken hero developed a unique "for your own good" take on cars and the auto industry, along with an unfortunate habit of setting himself ablaze. Later, after a distinguished career as an automotive journalist and magazine editor, he cast off the reins of his musty oppressors, carved out his superego with a plastic spork and became The Mechanic.

It happened twice this week. Somebody poked a head into my cubicle and said, "Hey, The Mechanic, have you heard? Kids don't like cars anymore. Cars to them are just transportation. The passion for the car in this world is dead."

Both times I thought to myself, "Oh no, not again." The demise of the passion for cars has been predicted for the past half century, and always by those who think the car should be nothing more than an A-to-B conveyance. It was said during the turmoil of the 1960s, the gas crisis of the early and late 1970s, the recession of the early 1980s, during the industry's switch to computer controls and EFI in the late 1980s and almost continuously since the Internet fired up more than 10 years ago.

They think if they keep bringing it up it'll eventually really happen. Kinda like when my wife, Mrs. The Mechanic, mentions my cleaning of the garage. She just throws it out there every once in a while. In the old days they would have called it nagging, but that's not PC enough for today.

What worries me is that I will clean the garage eventually. It might be after my 4-year old gets elected to the Senate, for her sixth term, but I will do it. And every time the wife bugs me about it, I do get closer to taking it on.

I'm afraid the lack of car lust out there may be on a similar calendar. Don't get me wrong. There's plenty of car love out there right now. I mean, look at you. Right now you're reading Inside Line instead of some liberal crap that vilifies the automobile and everything attached to it. Forget the fact that the car, especially the fast car powered by a big honking V8, is the greatest invention of all time. All that bashing is having some effect. Fact is, the voices out there painting the car as a detriment to society, a killer of man, women and planet, are on a bullhorn. From Al Gore on down, they're talking and people are listening.

Then there's the time consumption of the digital age. Computers and video games are stealing the world's youth from almost everything else. Sure, today's car enthusiasts also play video games, I understand that. I'm one of them. But I'm talking about the masses out there.

Studies show that an entire generation of kids don't leave their homes. They don't want to drive around just to drive around because driving around is fun because cars are fun. They don't want to modify their friend's car or go to a racetrack. They just want to play Forza 2 or Gran Turismo and their passion for the games will never translate to a passion for real-life cars. In real life they want a four-cylinder Accord 'cause it fits their friends, gets good mileage and has a reputation for reliability. Plus, they know the greenies at their liberal college won't egg it, like they might a supercharged Mustang.

Sad, but having a passion for real cars has never been easy. Cool cars are expensive. Modified cars break. Cars are large and hard to store. They require insurance and gasoline and tires and stuff. And these days they come with political baggage. If we let all of this go unchecked, if we don't pick up a bullhorn of our own, more and more kids will choose the easy route.

And you know what that means, don't you? It means the passion for the car in this country really will be dead. Only the old guys will love cars, and once they take the big dirt nap it'll all be over. This great car thing we all love will be over. And once that happens, cars like the new Mustang, Camaro and Challenger won't be worth building. Carmakers will make appliances only. Pods.

You might think I'm crazy, but this seed of the devil has already been planted. Somewhere out there is a teenage boy dreaming of a new Prius. Somebody please grab him by the collar and take him for a ride in a cool car. Let him hear it. Show him how to heel-and-toe downshift. Teach the little weasel how to do a tire-shredding burnout. Do whatever it takes to shake him from his stupor. I'd do it myself, but I'm off to get a haircut and tomorrow I have to mail something.

Let me know how it goes. -- The Mechanic Inside Line, Contributor

InsideLine

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Great article! :)

Somewhere out there is a teenage boy dreaming of a new Prius.

...shudder....

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He's right on. This is what scares me the most about Obbie taking ahold of GM. Bye Corvette, Bye Camaro, Goodbye any cool car they still have. Hello cookie cutter car.... basically Hello sister company of Toyota. I already see the decline of "car guys" at surrounding car shows. It's the same guys and same cars year after year... getting rougher and rougher shape. No new guys or new cars. It's dwindling. Woodward dreamcruise 2008 had a considerably lower turnout than previous years also.

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