Starting Line: So NOW What Am I Going to Do?


Written by Tim Suddard

From the July 1993 issue

Posted in Columns

About two months ago, just after the last issue went to press, my wife proudly announced that we were expecting our first child. Although we had been awaiting this moment with excitement and anticipation for a while, when it finally arrived I didn’t know quite what to do.

I think my reaction might seem a little imprudent, but there’s a reason for it. You see, for years, my friends and relatives had been telling me that I was lucky I didn’t have kids, because there was no way I could ever carry on the dizzying pace of travel and restoration/racing projects that I had been maintaining for years if I had a family to care for.

So what did I do? I did the only illogical thing I could do, I immediately embarked on both a new car project and a new shop building project. I think that maybe a teeny, tiny portion of my brain felt that my life might be ending in nine months, so I’d better get that new shop built before it was too late.

Now, my rational self understands that my life isn’t actually ending, but instead growing fuller and richer (see, I can talk like a sensitive guy). But I’m also pretty well convinced, from what I’ve heard, that once there are kids, there is very little extra cashola. So I tore down our old, termite-infested GRM workshop and quickly, very quickly, before my wife could figure out (or so I thought) how much it would cost and how silly it was with a baby on the way, I began to build a new shop.

As for the car, well, the RX-7 we just built for Margie is great, but a two-seat, high performance sports car seems a tad inappropriate for a new mother. A four-door would be most practical, and at a minimum a back seat is required. Besides, I’m willing to drive that nasty old RX-7 so Margie doesn’t have to!

As for Margie, we decided that sometimes you just need a Honda. A plain old, simple, practical, reliable Honda. No race tires, no dual carbs, no roll cage and no loud exhaust. I’ll have a family car, just like regular people. Yeah, I’m gonna be a family man. Hell, I might even mow the lawn!

And what could be better than the 1984 Honda Civic DX that contributing editor Mike Ancas wanted to trade me for some stuff? Yeah, we’ll leave it all stock, no loud exhaust, no race tires, and no stickers. It will be perfect.

But you know… the 1500S had nicer seats than the DX, plus a rear anti-roll bar and a tach. And one of my buddies up north has a wrecked one with a good interior. Isn’t Massachusetts right near Ohio? I’ll pick it up right after the Nelson Ledges race.

Hey, the car needs a new exhaust anyway, and HKS’s system isn’t really any louder than stock, is it? And those Rial wheels look really nice. Doesn’t going plus-one improve gas mileage? Sure, I heard it did. And Goodyear makes nice, practical tires. Hey, little baby: Say Gatorback. Can you say VRS? Good baby.

Who am I kidding? I can’t build a boring car. I can’t own a car without perusing old issues of GRM to see what we did with them when they were new, and what gear and spring ratios offered higher performance. I just can’t stop trying to make it faster. I just can’t stop tinkering.

I’ll try though, Margie, I’ll really try to keep this project somewhat practical. And I’ll try to spend less time in the shop and more time with the baby. I really will be a good father, honest. Of course, I’ll need a good lock on the shop. You’ve got to keep the kids out. Naturally all that paint stuff is very dangerous. No dear, of course I’m not putting the lock on to hide from the little people. That’s a ridiculous accusation.

I can see it now… I’ll spend lots of quality time teaching our child all about the important things: “Okay baby, this is a pyrometer. You see, when Daddy comes in from a lap, you put this pointy thing in the tire, then write down the temperatures. What’ya mean, you can’t write? Hey get that out of your mouth! Okay, you’re only two, I’ll write down the temperatures.”

But seriously, though I’ve always been able to relate to our readers who are on a budget, now it looks like I’m going to get a lesson in relating to those of you who have not only budget constraints, but also the time constraints that a family creates. I hope I pass the course.

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Reader comments:

Jerry From LA
Feb. 16, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Nice piece of writing there, young fella. I remember thinking so the first time I read it lo those many years ago.

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