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Hagerty Employee

Smithology: If you're a vampire, or maybe a rock | Hagerty Media

There's a new engine in the house. I knew this was coming. I sold the truck a few weeks ago. Its tidy little Chevy 350 went away, motored its big round air-filter housing off to a good home.

Right on! Great to hear it has a clutch.
There's a new engine in my house also. It's a bit older than yours. This one was built in 1964. It is attached to a truck, well sort of a truck. It has a bed, but its face is that of a sedan. Still it has very few miles 56,000 plus or minus a few. It is a progenitor of your trucks 350 engine.

When I started it the first time, I stepped on the throttle (For your younger readers, this vehicle has a carburetor and they have a choke that needs to be set by stepping on the throttle before turning the key. There might be a good column in that: Remembrances of how the old carbed cars were started. ); then turned the key. It took about half a revolution and the engine sprang to life. No crank, crank, crank like a fuel injected model, where all the sensors must align with their Cosmic divinity before spark can be sent to the cylinder, it simply vroomed into life and ran smoothly and easily. My buddy and I smiled at each other.
My buddy commented: "Sounds like 56000 miles". We looked the vehicle over. Clearly it was used , during its life. There wasn't a panel without a dent or scratch and some rust also. It's gold metallic paint was different in a couple spots, so it had clearly had some previous paint repairs also. Then I closed the driver's door.

The ridiculously satisfying thunk, once again brought a smile to my buddy and I. I said: "Yea, I believe 56,000 miles. This is just too solid to be 156". I was already sold: It was all over but the crying. I found a new engine for my shop. 🙂 My buddy, who is also a first class body guy, is working on removing all the years of abuse (including at least one encounter with some Armco on the passenger side) and I'm cleaning, derusting and painting the undercarriage. In the Spring this will be my new daily transport. I love old cars.

I build engines too. It's one of my hobbies, but this one is just too good to mess with. too original and too perfect. I am building a new roller cammed small block for my other car/truck, but that one is more for fun, spirited driving, rather than daily driving. Congratulations on getting an new engine in your life. .
New Driver

Oh, god. Did you buy a manual X5 from Ben in Chicago?

You knew Sam the eccentric (weird) analogy was coming. I would like to think your newer car is an E46, I was there once, but it is more likely a "people's car". In a bit of self-description, my wife's SUV lives on the driveway under a car cover because the garage has always housed my projects, three just now, and the tractor. The exotic fun is in $80/mo storage, the vintage cafe racer is in the trailer, and my ultimate back up is a pick up in the park off. Yesterday's progress was assembling a IRS differential freshly finished in clear coat, and TIG welding a Nippon SS water manifold to fit a 1929 Das Replik resto-rod. Enough about me,
My projects are "wonderful things" as is my wife, but how much pandemic conversation can one man adsorb? My other wonderful thing routinely woke me up this morning. He came to the side of the bed to see if my eyes were open. As they did, he leaned forward to sniff my face. "OK" from me and he pulled away, message delivered. I thought about his five predecessors resting eternally in the trees, 150ft to the east. I wondered how I will tolerate his passing, and realized, he may have to tolerate mine. At the five week-old interview I knew he was special. At five months my wife reflected there would never be another to match his predecessor. I knew already, this is the best companion we would ever have, and I was right. He modulates my habits, routines, and anxieties. He does not give me (metaphorical) crap, and I do not have to explain the insanity of news to him.
Meeting his simple needs balances not only my mechanical challenges, but my social challenges as well. If I have to, finding a newer better example may be impossible.
New Driver

I am much older than Sam. We share some common interest. I love the old world of analog but appreciate the new world of digital. My love at the moment is a 39 year old UJM. Getting ready to add 21st century stable mate.
New Driver

I haven't enjoyed reading an article this much in a while - normally I read for knowledge.

Yet with you're style of prose, I hope that one day you write a novel (if you haven't already - and if you have where is it). Maybe it's our similar ages, but I enjoyed your references and the feelings you were able to convey to the reader (a rare talent). Kudos.
Advanced Driver

I expect you've read pieces by Sam that only the hardcore Gearhead could appreciate. (I am not in that number.) They are few and far between, but I know he has to refresh his Spanner Cred from time to time.

Mostly he is funny and wise and modest and extremely likeable. Exhibit A, for me, is still the piece he wrote for R&T a few years back when the magazine still had the resources to send Sam on assignment to cover the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He produced hand's down the best car-related article I've ever read, and one of the best on any subject. I hope you have read it; if not, I urge you and anyone else listening to find it, pour a glass of Rowan's Creek bourbon, and have the time of your life.
Advanced Driver

"But there is still something about an engine......"

Wisdom for the ages, my friend.

Great article, Sam. I always enjoy reading your articles, and this is one of your best. Almost as good as the one where your son has the flattened coins from one of your road trips.

- Jim