I once owned, and loved, a 1968 Triumph GT6+. It had a beastly inline 6 cylinder engine with twin carburetors, and the drive wheels were attached with fancy little doodads called “rotoflex” connectors, which were essentially big rubber bands. The net effect was that this car could move really well.
The car wasn’t without its problems — the gas gauge never worked all that well, it leaked from a few places, the carburetors would stick, and the electrical system was designed to work only when the stars and planets were perfectly aligned — none of which really dissuaded me from taking it out on lesser-used stretches of road and opening up the throttle.
After a few times of doing this, I agreed to let my girlfriend drive. It was a much more harrowing experience from the passenger seat, for some reason, and when I wasn’t trying to climb under the seat I noticed that she had the speedometer well above the 140 mark. In between flashes of my life up until that point, I wondered how good my tires really were.
On the way back from one of these forays, I saw flashing red and blue lights in my rear view window, clearly signaling for me to pull over. I had just enough time to contemplate how often the third digit on police radar gets used when the cop approached the car. I was poking through the tiny glove compartment for my insurance information when the cop said, “What year is this car?”
“Can I look under the hood?” he said, with a sheepish enthusiasm.
“Sure!” I said, equally enthusiastic to not be getting a ticket, or worse.
While driving down Lakeshore Drive, the car’s temperamental electrical system shorted out and overheated, evidenced by some spectacular flames shooting up from the dashboard and in front of the windshield. This had no discernible effect on the drivability of the car, so I decided to ignore it until I got home, about a mile away — since the alternative was to pull over on Lakeshore Drive (four lanes of crazy in each direction with no real shoulders or breakdown lanes) and try to fix it.
After a moment, a car pulled up beside me, its passenger gesturing wildly. She then mouthed exaggeratedly, “your car is on fire!” while pointing frantically.
I’ll emphasize that the flames were right in front of my face. I was looking through them to be able to drive the car down the road at all. I paused a moment to consider what this good Samaritan thought I could possibly be looking at in order to miss the flames leaping up in front of my face? Did she think I was sleep-driving? Perhaps I thought the city was burning to the ground and didn’t realize my car was on fire?
In order not to dissuade this kind person from helping somebody truly stupid and in need of having the obvious pointed out, I pretended to understand what she meant, gave her a thumbs-up, and a non-sarcastically exaggeratedly mouthed, “thanks!”
Perhaps the next life she saves will be somebody playfully pretending to ignore a “do not eat” label.