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Diversity can be refreshing

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Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 4:25 am | Updated: 4:30 am, Thu Jun 2, 2011.

The year was 1996 and several car guys and I were hanging out in a Vacaville garage. The Garage belonged to a good friend and fellow car guy by the name of Rick. Rick had an old eighty-eight Honda CRX. The guys and I were attempting to shoehorn an Acura Integra engine in the tiny CRX. This is not an easy task as the Integra engine is much larger than the original Honda power plant. We were doing this engine swap back before it was common. In a way we were pioneers or madmen. It goes without saying that a job like this is tough and takes a lot of ingenuity and well...cussing.

We had been at it all day and the knuckle busting task was beginning to take a toll on all of us. In an effort to retain our sanity and friendship, we took a well deserved pizza break. While we were idle, our mouths became more active, telling tales of past street conquests. Eventually the conversation made a hard right turn onto the "Honda is better than Mitsubishi" avenue. This street is a dimly lit thoroughfare on which many verbal races are won and lost.

As the argument became heated two friends of mine became agitated. As I insulted the Mitsubishi fans, I laughed and stuffed my face not giving any thought to the fire I was fanning. Inevitably, laughing gave way to shouting and two of my buddies were rolling around on the garage floor. They actually roughed each other up over their hate for the other's ride. Rick and I tried as best we could to hold back our laughter; but we chuckled as we broke up the fight. "Okay, lets head out to the track and settle this like civilized people," Rick said while holding his aching gut that actually hurt from laughing.

We jumped in our cars and headed out to an old deserted road near Travis Air Force base. The road was long, straight, wide and a dead end. The dusty unused road was long enough for a drag race and wide enough for a few dozen witnesses. We had used this road as a testing ground and to settle disagreements. The cars lined up and as many times before, there was a winner and a loser; but both were able to put their differences aside and shake hands.

The scene in Rick's Garage has been played out in garages and race tracks all over the world. My car is better than your car is akin to the classic my dad can beat up you dad argument. While the dad argument is argued by second graders, the car debate is often argued much less intelligently. Much in the way a Coke drinker swears Pepsi is inferior, car guys swear their opinion is grounded completely in fact. Automotive enthusiasts are often brainwashed by their friends and family, "My daddy had a Chevy so I drive a Chevy." Others are slave to whatever car is more popular or whichever car dominates the region in which they live. In Lodi muscle cars are king - take a cruse to A&W on a summer night and witness all the candy paint and flow masters. Stockton, on the other hand, is modified Honda central. Throw up a stick on pacific avenue and it will land on a slammed Civic.

Yes, we all have our own preference. For example, I like modern cars of almost any make. However I do not dislike classics or muscle cars. I believe it important to look deeper at autos that don't fit into my ideal. Once you take the blinders off and look around you might see some cool stuff. It is interesting how much detail goes into a lowrider's paint and hydraulic suspension. I enjoy looking at a photographic timeline displayed near a fully restored classic car, from rust bucket to show car. However, I am still trying to find something I like about monster trucks, the maladjusted headlights perhaps.

The point I am trying to make is simple. Don't hate it until you give it a chance. Mustang guys, take a ride in a Camaro they are great fun. Import enthusiasts, make friends with a guy who doesn't have four valves per cylinder or overhead camshafts. Lifted truck owners, please get your headlights adjusted by a qualified professional. Open your mind and look outside your own garage as there may be other cars that may pique your interest.

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