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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

OUR ATTACHMENT TO AUTOMOBILES

We just sold our 2000 Volkswagen Beetle. It was a beautiful car which was painted red and featured a 4 Cyl. GLS 1.8 Liter Turbo engine. This was definitely not your father's VW as it had a lot of get up and go. One time I had it up to 120 mph just to see what it could do. I could have gone faster, but 120 was fast enough for me. Other than a few trips to Jacksonville, Orlando, and Naples, the car didn't get much use and shuttled me to and from work or to the airport. As my kids grew up, we rarely drove it anymore. When we sold it, there was just over 50,000 miles on it, not bad for a ten year old car. It was well maintained over the years, but it simply sat in our driveway with the Florida sun pounding on it, which is why we finally decided to sell it to someone who could take better care of it.

After we made the sale, we dutifully emptied it of our possessions, such as CD's and jumper cables, and removed the license plate. It was kind of sad to see it go as it was a fine car, but we knew it was time to part. It kind of reminded me of waving good-bye to our last child leaving the nest for school. We've had a lot of cars in the family over the years and aside from one lemon we bought years ago, we tended to treat them like members of the family, kind of like the attachment we form to family pets, like dogs and cats. On the one hand we realize it is an inanimate object used as a tool for transportation, but on the other it becomes a part of us. Maybe it's because we use it so much and take pleasure in driving it.

I think this is the reason people like to attend the many classic car shows around the country as we inevitably come upon a vehicle from our past which conjures up memories and invokes emotions. There is one car show in particular I have visited for the last few years in Fernandino Beach, Florida which has a wide assortment of cars from my past (the show is held in October). Some of my favorites are Chevy Bel Airs from the mid-1950's which my grandparents owned for a long time. When I see one painted turquoise green and white, the same as my grandparents' car, I think of their home in Buffalo, New York. When I come upon a Corvette Stingray fastback from the mid-1960's I think of my neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois.

The DeLorean DMC-12 is popular at such car shows, particularly among youth who still remember the movie "Back to the Future." Although the original company has faded into memory a long time ago (they stopped production in 1982), a new DeLorean Motor Company resurfaced under new ownership in Humble, Texas. As I understand it, the new company obtained all of the parts from the old company and it is still possible to purchase a restored DeLorean in mint condition from the Texas operation.

The only time we do not become attached to our vehicle is when we see it as nothing more than a scrap of metal to move us from point A to point B. Such cars are usually pretty beat up thereby negating any attachment. Then again, I have seen people still devoted to their piece of rust, particularly old Volkswagens where the floor boards or the body is in various stages of decomposition.

Bottom-line, the reason people develop attachments to their automobiles is because it is an extension of their personality and when we finally sell the car or scrap it, we feel like we are severing a piece of ourselves, and a tear forms.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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