06th Feb2015

Meet Your Heroes

by Michael Chandler

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Someone, somewhere once said to never meet your heroes.  They said never meet your heroes because they can never live up to the ideal you’ve built for them in your mind.  I take issue with this.  I had two posters on my wall as a kid: a Lamborghini Countach and Michael Jordan.  From everything I’ve seen and heard, MJ is a hyper-competitive guy who has taken to posterizing old guys at his basketball fantasy camps.  The Countach is impossible to drive, you can’t see out of it, reversing it requires a spotter and someone to stop traffic, and the “creature comforts” leave something to be desired.

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One year when I was a kid two things happened: I saw Michael Jordan play and I saw a Countach in person.  The events weren’t related; however, if I saw MJ driving a Countach down my street my little head would’ve exploded.  Why am I telling this rambling story?  Because I met one of my heroes, the Lambo, and it didn’t change how I thought or think about it.  It’s still one of my favorite cars, flaws be damned.  My feelings would probably change if I drove it, but that would be getting to know it and not just meeting it.

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The other morning I went to Cars & Coffee because I wanted to shoot photos and clear my head.  At the far end of the parking lot there was this pair of Diablos: a 1997.5 Roadster and a 2000 VT.  These were the stars of the meet, people were coming up and taking photos of and with them, Chad (owner of the green machine) was revving the motor for the children and was answering pretty much every question about the big Italians.  For some of these people, these were/are their hero cars.  And they were loving them.

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Did the dog leg gear box let them down?  No.  Did the tall instrument cluster and low seating position kill the image of their hero?  Not a chance.  These people got to walk up to their hero, say hi, take some pictures and gawk at them.  None of their flaws shown through.  Were the fans aware of these “issues”? Yeah, anyone who has read ANYTHING about them knows the problems, but that doesn’t matter.  Seeing the car you had all over your wall as a kid in the flesh makes you completely ignore all of those issues.  You go back to being an excitable little kid.  It’s great.

 

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When I was in high school I wanted two cars: an Evo (to spite Trent who had just picked up a brand new STi.  I was and am a very petty person) and a Mopar of any sort.  Challenger, Charger, Dart, didn’t matter.  I just wanted one.

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When I was pulling in to park, I spotted this Challenger T/A.  I parked as close to it as I could (without parking among the cars who were there to be seen) and instantly noticed a Ford F-350 that had all of its utility modified out of it parked next to the Challenger.  The hulking mass of the diesel cast a massive shadow over the car, making a proper photos showcasing the color and graphics on the T/A almost impossible.

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Then, suddenly, the Ford grumbled to life and slowly rolled out of the parking lot.  The driver’s side of the Challenger was awash in sunlight, and was being approached by the owner and a giddy passenger.  I snapped off a few frames, and then…

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The owner fired it up, and let the 340 roar.  His passenger was grinning ear to ear as the mechanical noise of the trio of carburetors fed fuel and air into the motor.  I was giddy too.  This wasn’t the first time I had seen a nice Challenger, but it was nice running into one that was fanning the flames of enthusiasm in a young fan.

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The posters may have come down long ago, but the kid who put them up is still alive in all of us. Weekly meets like Cars & Coffee give us opportunities to be wide eyed, excitable kids.  Wake up early on Saturday, go meet your heroes.

Bonus gallery!:

Words and Photos by Michael Chandler
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