Pontiac blues

I am lamenting the end of the Pontiac line, as GM sheds brands in an effort to stay alive. In my teenage years, the family car was a Pontiac, so that was the one I got to drive every chance I got. More than that, my friend down the street had a GTO, a shiny black muscle car of the kind Pontiac specialized in. I would go over to his house and help him work on his car. Not that it needed fixing but that he was always buying things for it–mag wheels, pipes to make it louder–and trying to “soup it up” so that it would go even faster.

Do teenage guys get together to soup up Priuses? Do teenage guys even work on cars anymore?

1966 GTO

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Manxman

    When I was in the Navy in the '60's, my brother Tom had a sweet GTO convertible that he had bought brand new, and if there was anything in my life I've ever coveted, it was that car. When I came home on leave one time, I learned that he had needed money and had sold the car to some stodgy, middle-aged guy with a wife & kids who couldn't possible appreciate what the car was all about. I could have strangled my brother for not giving me a crack at buying that GTO. It was a real beauty.

    When I was a little kid, we couldn't wait until the fall to see what Detroit was going to come up with in their new models. There was so much variety back then, Now, everything seems to look the same. Very aerodynamic, but also very boring.

  • Manxman

    When I was in the Navy in the '60's, my brother Tom had a sweet GTO convertible that he had bought brand new, and if there was anything in my life I've ever coveted, it was that car. When I came home on leave one time, I learned that he had needed money and had sold the car to some stodgy, middle-aged guy with a wife & kids who couldn't possible appreciate what the car was all about. I could have strangled my brother for not giving me a crack at buying that GTO. It was a real beauty.

    When I was a little kid, we couldn't wait until the fall to see what Detroit was going to come up with in their new models. There was so much variety back then, Now, everything seems to look the same. Very aerodynamic, but also very boring.

  • Eric

    15 to 20 years ago friends and I use to "tune" Honda Civics. I know it is not the same as playing with "small block V8's", Those old engines where straight up electro-mechanical wonders. Engines with microchips and software respond better to laptops then they do to wrenches. The neighboring teenagers are always in the alley with the hood up on one car or another. I think the beat goes on.

  • Eric

    15 to 20 years ago friends and I use to "tune" Honda Civics. I know it is not the same as playing with "small block V8's", Those old engines where straight up electro-mechanical wonders. Engines with microchips and software respond better to laptops then they do to wrenches. The neighboring teenagers are always in the alley with the hood up on one car or another. I think the beat goes on.

  • Cincinnatus

    With the exception of rice rockets, most teenagers can't afford cars: this is no longer age of cheap automobiles and cheap oil.

  • Cincinnatus

    With the exception of rice rockets, most teenagers can't afford cars: this is no longer age of cheap automobiles and cheap oil.

  • Kyralessa

    Well, I've heard of people *greening* up their Priuses, converting them to battery-only. From what I hear, it's not cost-effective, though. But I guess adding accessories to one's muscle car never was either.

  • Kyralessa

    Well, I've heard of people *greening* up their Priuses, converting them to battery-only. From what I hear, it's not cost-effective, though. But I guess adding accessories to one's muscle car never was either.

  • Mary Ann

    My boyfriend and I co-owned a GTO when I was 17 that had been tinkered with and barely street legal. Oh boy did I love to drive that car!! I also used to love to work on cars (in the early to mid '70's), and did all my own tuneups – remember feeler guages? While the guys did the heavy stuff, I'd be re-building a carborator and having a great time. It didn't occur to me that cars would ever change to the point where all I can do under the hood is refill various fluid resevoirs and remember the good old days. Well, now I garden, so have replaced grease under my nails for dirt. My hands preferred grease as dirt dries the skin out too much!

  • Mary Ann

    My boyfriend and I co-owned a GTO when I was 17 that had been tinkered with and barely street legal. Oh boy did I love to drive that car!! I also used to love to work on cars (in the early to mid '70's), and did all my own tuneups – remember feeler guages? While the guys did the heavy stuff, I'd be re-building a carborator and having a great time. It didn't occur to me that cars would ever change to the point where all I can do under the hood is refill various fluid resevoirs and remember the good old days. Well, now I garden, so have replaced grease under my nails for dirt. My hands preferred grease as dirt dries the skin out too much!

  • Manxman

    Mary Ann

    Sounds like you need to get a motorcycle if you've still got a longing for grease. There's still a lot of old-time tinkering you can do on bikes, and they have great user manuals.

    Strangely enough, it was doing maintenance on my different Jap motorcycles that steered me in the direction of Honda & Toyota cars. In high school I pumped gas & did car repairs at my Dad's Sunoco station, and when I started working on my cycles, I noticed how much better engineered & user friendly the Japanese bikes were compared to what I had seen working on American cars.

  • Manxman

    Mary Ann

    Sounds like you need to get a motorcycle if you've still got a longing for grease. There's still a lot of old-time tinkering you can do on bikes, and they have great user manuals.

    Strangely enough, it was doing maintenance on my different Jap motorcycles that steered me in the direction of Honda & Toyota cars. In high school I pumped gas & did car repairs at my Dad's Sunoco station, and when I started working on my cycles, I noticed how much better engineered & user friendly the Japanese bikes were compared to what I had seen working on American cars.

  • Paul Faber

    Yes, this teenager needs to get back out to the barn and fix the breaks on his truck before he drives anywhere. I've do have some friends out here in the country that seem to do nothing but work on they're four-wheel-drive vehicles.

    Thanks Dr. Veith for such a great blog. I really enjoy it.

  • Paul Faber

    Yes, this teenager needs to get back out to the barn and fix the breaks on his truck before he drives anywhere. I've do have some friends out here in the country that seem to do nothing but work on they're four-wheel-drive vehicles.

    Thanks Dr. Veith for such a great blog. I really enjoy it.

  • http://www.-utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don't know about the prius's but the neighbor kid across the street likes to soup up his Honda Civics, then he crashes them. Buys a new one ans starts all over. I have been here for five years and I think he has gone through as many cars.

  • http://www.-utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I don't know about the prius's but the neighbor kid across the street likes to soup up his Honda Civics, then he crashes them. Buys a new one ans starts all over. I have been here for five years and I think he has gone through as many cars.

  • Joe

    I miss working on cars. When I was a teenager my Dad helped me as much as he could (which was quite a lot) and for any really big stuff we called Rich; a great mechanic that worked with my Dad at the Co-op. Rich would give you his time for free. His only requirement was that you were there with him paying attention so you could do it yourself next time. I learned an awful lot in a few years. Now whenever, I pop the hood on our cars I wonder how in the world I am going to teach my son anything about this alien looking motor staring back at me.

  • Joe

    I miss working on cars. When I was a teenager my Dad helped me as much as he could (which was quite a lot) and for any really big stuff we called Rich; a great mechanic that worked with my Dad at the Co-op. Rich would give you his time for free. His only requirement was that you were there with him paying attention so you could do it yourself next time. I learned an awful lot in a few years. Now whenever, I pop the hood on our cars I wonder how in the world I am going to teach my son anything about this alien looking motor staring back at me.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ptmccain ptmccain

    Do teenagers still work on cars? Oh, my, yes. My son, Paul, my oldest, not only enjoys working on his used car he/us bought a few years ago [we split the cost], he has developed his own interior car lighting business as a result of all the fun he has had doing just about everything you can imagine to the car: new exhaust, turbo system, lighting, sound, you name it. Check out: http://www.diodedynamics.com/catalog/

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ptmccain ptmccain

    Do teenagers still work on cars? Oh, my, yes. My son, Paul, my oldest, not only enjoys working on his used car he/us bought a few years ago [we split the cost], he has developed his own interior car lighting business as a result of all the fun he has had doing just about everything you can imagine to the car: new exhaust, turbo system, lighting, sound, you name it. Check out: http://www.diodedynamics.com/catalog/

  • Veith

    You must have been seen as the coolest girl in school!

  • Veith

    You must have been seen as the coolest girl in school!

  • Veith

    All right, Paul! I appreciate your reading it.

  • Veith

    All right, Paul! I appreciate your reading it.

  • Steve in Toronto

    I grew up with that car. My dad loves cars and the GTO was a consolation for having to trade in his Jaguar XK-150 for a Mark 2. It broke my heart when my mom drove the GTO into a tree while taking my two younger sisters to get their ears pierced. Today he drives a XK-8 but there is nothing like those old machines (my last car was a Mercedes 300sd) sadly today I live in the world of minivans.

    Cheers
    Steve in Toronto

  • Steve in Toronto

    I grew up with that car. My dad loves cars and the GTO was a consolation for having to trade in his Jaguar XK-150 for a Mark 2. It broke my heart when my mom drove the GTO into a tree while taking my two younger sisters to get their ears pierced. Today he drives a XK-8 but there is nothing like those old machines (my last car was a Mercedes 300sd) sadly today I live in the world of minivans.

    Cheers
    Steve in Toronto

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I loved (and at times cursed) working on my old 1980 Mercury Capri back in High School. Even got to do an engine swap with my dad: a throaty V8 in place of the little 4 banger it came with. The headers wrapped around the starter in a really funky way so I got lots of practice lifting the engine and swapping starters out. There were High School drag races sponsored at the local track which was especially fun.

    There's a ton of stuff you can do to today's sports cars and if you look and are patient you can find something affordable and still very fun – And if your willing to get in there and get greasy – what fun I still have doing that. Can't wait to tear into the old mustang this spring and summer! Still savin' my pennies just like I did in H.S.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I loved (and at times cursed) working on my old 1980 Mercury Capri back in High School. Even got to do an engine swap with my dad: a throaty V8 in place of the little 4 banger it came with. The headers wrapped around the starter in a really funky way so I got lots of practice lifting the engine and swapping starters out. There were High School drag races sponsored at the local track which was especially fun.

    There's a ton of stuff you can do to today's sports cars and if you look and are patient you can find something affordable and still very fun – And if your willing to get in there and get greasy – what fun I still have doing that. Can't wait to tear into the old mustang this spring and summer! Still savin' my pennies just like I did in H.S.

  • E-Raj

    Teenagers today play video games that let them "work" on imaginary cars. Too often today, when their real car breaks down, their parents buy them a new one. I'm sure there are still some red-blooded American teens souping up cars, but I don't see this very much in my neighborhood, unlike twenty years ago when I was a gear-head and my parents told me if I wanted a car, I'd have to buy it myself.

  • E-Raj

    Teenagers today play video games that let them "work" on imaginary cars. Too often today, when their real car breaks down, their parents buy them a new one. I'm sure there are still some red-blooded American teens souping up cars, but I don't see this very much in my neighborhood, unlike twenty years ago when I was a gear-head and my parents told me if I wanted a car, I'd have to buy it myself.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Many thanks for a HUGE laugh at the idea of a bunch of teens gathered around a Prius to make it "hotter." Only way I can think of to do that would be to puncture the gas tank and throw a match. :^)

    I don't work on engines much these days. Too much to go wrong in a fantastically expensive way. I'll do a lot of other things, though.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Many thanks for a HUGE laugh at the idea of a bunch of teens gathered around a Prius to make it "hotter." Only way I can think of to do that would be to puncture the gas tank and throw a match. :^)

    I don't work on engines much these days. Too much to go wrong in a fantastically expensive way. I'll do a lot of other things, though.

  • fws

    wow mary ann. we have lots in common it looks like. I prefer grease to dirt for the same reason. but good loamy dirt smells better.

  • fws

    wow mary ann. we have lots in common it looks like. I prefer grease to dirt for the same reason. but good loamy dirt smells better.

  • david in norcal

    Teenagers work on Japanese cars all the time. They add spoilers to them and race them and drop them –at least where I live. The world is changing, yet it stays the same. But it's sad to see Pontiac go, except that it has been gone, except for it's name for a couple of decades.

  • david in norcal

    Teenagers work on Japanese cars all the time. They add spoilers to them and race them and drop them –at least where I live. The world is changing, yet it stays the same. But it's sad to see Pontiac go, except that it has been gone, except for it's name for a couple of decades.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Great gravy! David in Norcal! Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stadler stadler

    Great gravy! David in Norcal! Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ServusDei ServusDei

    Something observed in my own household is that computers have replaced cars as the primary object of tinkering. Yes, there are the kids that merely sit around playing video games all day (or worse, as E-Raj suggested, let them pretend to fix cars all day on their computers), but then there are the kids (formerly known as nerds) who are always tweaking, upgrading, and programming. This tweaking may even involve building elaborate cooling systems to crank out an extra 1% of performance. I think it's a respectable switch from automobiles (considering newer cars are far more difficult to tinker with anyway).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ServusDei ServusDei

    Something observed in my own household is that computers have replaced cars as the primary object of tinkering. Yes, there are the kids that merely sit around playing video games all day (or worse, as E-Raj suggested, let them pretend to fix cars all day on their computers), but then there are the kids (formerly known as nerds) who are always tweaking, upgrading, and programming. This tweaking may even involve building elaborate cooling systems to crank out an extra 1% of performance. I think it's a respectable switch from automobiles (considering newer cars are far more difficult to tinker with anyway).


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