I stayed up way too late the other night watching videos of people attempting to start cars for the first time in thirty years or more.
If you are someone with even a modicum of mechanical inclination, or if you simply love cars, it is hard not to be entertained by these sorts of things. Our very own Editor, under the banner of the company that issues him a paycheque, has himself made at least one such video (and if you have not watched yet, you should). Let us hope there will be more.
Regardless of whether a car is rescued from a junkyard, a barn, or a field, there are a number of reasons such videos appeal. In the first place, it is because us viewers get the joy of seeing a long-forgotten car brought back to life. If might only be a temporary resuscitation, enough for a few hours of hooning round a field. Or it might be for the purpose of pressing a left-for-dead car back into daily use, as David Freiburger has done with one of my favourite Roadkill cars, the ‘Disgustang’ (you’ll have to sign up for Motor Trend on Demand to see all the episodes about this car).
These kinds of videos also bring joy because they are an opportunity to appreciate the kind of engineering that goes into cars. Here you have a pile of metal parts that have lay dormant in a barn for decades, and after receiving a little bit of attention, often work again just as they are supposed to. It is not always smooth sailing, of course, and in many cases depends on the kind of regular maintenance their previous owners gave them (or didn’t). But in a surprising number of instances, they come to life again with minimal fuss. And that is seriously impressive.
A third reason I enjoy videos like this so much is because the ability to rescue a car that has been sat in a junkyard for so long really comes to down to basic mechanical skills, and understanding the fundamentals of how an engine works. I appreciate the knowledge and intiution of those who rescue the cars as much as I appreciate the cars themselves. As someone who does his own spannering, I am always impressed by the skill of others with far more mechanical aptitude than me. And videos like this, when produced well, provide a real learning opportunity for those of us who want to take our spannering abilities to the next level.
If you find a car in need of rescue somewhere, and have the time and inclination to see it live again, give it a go. This, after all, is part of the ethos of this site – to give the forgotten and unloved a second chance. And we have respect for anyone willing to do that. What’s more, if you’re one who is given to film such ventures, know that you have at least one guy who is happy to risk oversleeping to watch your antics.