Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Auto-Biography:" Owen Elger -- Hot Wheels and a 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

Owen Elger

Professor Heitmann

History 344

29 June 2011


Ever since the dawn of my existence, I have been a tinkerer, an aristocrat of all things that needed built or fixed. I grew up the son of a handyman, and the grandson of a handyman, and so on and so forth. As a child I could often times be found out in the garage at my father’s workbench playing with tools and exploring things that looked fascinating to me. This sometimes turned out to be a negative thing whenever I would take something apart and forget how to put it back together, and have to embarrassingly show it to my dad and ask him to put it back correctly. I differed greatly in this sense, and still do to this day, from my two brothers, who are not very mechanically inclined at all. The weekends in my house were spent doing home repairs and improvements, and I was always by my dad’s side ready and willing to help. I fully attribute my interest in pursuing an engineering career to my passion for all things that require fixing or assembly. As I type this paper, I have a propane grill which is only partially assembled in my parent’s living room that I am giving to my eldest brother as a wedding gift. The day I bought it I began putting it together, only to realize that once fully put together, it would never fit in the car to take to my brother’s house. So there it sits on the floor, mocking me every time I pass it because it knows I can’t wait till I get the chance to assemble it completely.

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About the time I was in the third grade, my parents bought me a model car for Christmas because they knew I had a passion to put things together, and see how they worked. I never knew this incident was going to precede a strong passion not only for cars in general, but for the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona. That’s right, my first model car turned out to drive a strong passion for this old car. I have purchased over a dozen model cars of all makes and models in my lifetime, but my favorite is still that Dodge Charger. Unfortunately, that’s where the dream meets reality. And the reality is that this particular car is very rare, and very expensive, not to mention I’ve only ever seen pictures of the thing. I don’t know what it is about the car, if it’s the color, the huge spoiler on the back, or the fact that it is just an American muscle car with a lot of horsepower, but all I know is that I can’t die happy until I own one.

Unfortunately neither of my parents knew much about the inner workings of cars, and they were always too expensive for me to take apart and risk messing something up, so my knowledge about cars is minimal. That was always one thing I wanted to learn more about, but never had the time due to school and sports. I’m usually the guy nodding his head when someone is talking about gear ratios and complicated things like that. To this day that same model car sits on my desk and I take it with me to school in the fall as well.

For now my focus isn’t on owning one of these magnificent cars, but to just get through college and make some money that may one day contribute to the purchase of this vehicle. That dream may have to wait another 40 or so years until I am ready to retire. Every fast and furious movie, or any racing movie in that case, has featured at least one muscle car, which has only heightened my love and appreciation for them. Seeing the car shake as the enormous engine

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rumbles, almost makes me want to own one even more. I definitely think that American muscle cars are growing even scarcer as the years go on, as new cars roll onto the market. No doubt there are people who not only share my passion for this vehicle(s), but go to greater levels to ensure their ownership of a car that gets increasingly rare as the years march on. A car like this in pristine condition will run easily over $175k. So unfortunately for me, unless I hit the lottery, it looks like I might not be getting my dream car after all. Maybe I’ll get the chance to at least drive one later in life.

As for now, I’ll just have to stick to my model of that orange beauty, and wonder what might be. It’s amazing that one little children’s model of an old muscle car could spark such a huge interest and passion inside of me for this automobile. I am stricken with envy of every person that has the privilege to own such a machine. As a quick side note, I’m greatly looking forward to this class and learning about how cars and technology changed history. It’s not every day that one of our professors has such a deep passion for cars and has as many fun and interesting stories as you have so far in just three days. I am definitely looking forward to learning a lot from this class and I hope to take away a wealth of knowledge.

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