Car guys like to daydream because our lives are filled with possible—and impossible dreams.

We often bite off way more than we can handle, but we’re hardwired with incredible optimism, so when our thoughts drift, they move at the speed of light through a million concepts.

Jerry Sutherland

Here’s how we think. For example, we’ll ask ourselves odd random and spontaneous questions like–“What happens when the last barn-find Superbird is found?”. There’ll be a chaotic jumble of thoughts after that—things like “Should we all quit looking for Superbirds now?”; to “Should we believe this story?”; to “Is this going to drive the Superbird price up even more?”; to “I saw one at an auction go for 650,000”; to “What’s for lunch?”.  These thoughts will occur in nanosecond bursts—that’s how car guys are wired. 

Car guys are even worse at a big car show because there are so many possibilities for wild, unrelated, meandering thoughts. We’ll stay focused on one basic topic—the car or truck in question–but there are going to be random observations bouncing around like ping pong balls. We’ll focus on the car itself and pick off every detail.

We’ll notice the big block resting where a 6-cylinder used to be, and that thought will trigger other thoughts faster than a blind guy blows up in a minefield. For example, “I wonder what he did with that six-banger motor because they’re getting pretty rare; to “I would have gone to a small block”; to “Wow, his wife is sure hot—it has to be his car”.

Car guys will have a million mental bursts during a one-hour car guy TV show. Our thoughts will start in the first three seconds with thoughts like “How did they find that Ferrari in the middle of Gopher Gulch, Texas?”; to “How do these guys get all this stuff  done faster than Superman on speed?”; to “Not that obnoxious guy again—too bad he didn’t get trapped under a car like they made you believe just before the last commercial break.”; to “I need a beer—or six—this guy’s a moron—you don’t put mags on a ’58 Lincoln” ; to “I’m done—there’s a Rockford Files marathon on now and the cars are a lot cooler on that show”.

We don’t restrict our thoughts to other people’s thoughts—car guy thoughts go into Warp Drive when they hit the garage. We’ll start out with one thought in mind—fix a door lock. That thought lasts a millisecond before we move on to another thought like “This car really needs a thumping sound system”; to “ I should have popped for that fancy door panel tool because so far I’ve demolished three clips” ; to “Why did those ghouls at Detroit make these doors harder to access than Fort Knox? ; to “You know, I think I should take the dog for a walk”.  

This kind of behavior might sound suspiciously like ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), but it’s really another great example of how the car guys’ minds work. Cars are complicated–and project cars are worse because there are a lot of nasty, painfully long jobs in the world of old cars. Our minds wander to avoid reality. 

This reality—old cars are 1% dream and 99% work. Our imaginations are the only reason the job gets done.     

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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