Car Culture: Camaraderie & Community
Even as the automobile has entered an important transition across the threshold of the 20th Century into the 21st Century with re-engineering of drivetrain propulsion from reliance on petroleum to alternative fuels and electric power, the community of people that is united by the shared experience and collective expertise about maintaining, repairing, restoring or collecting cars continues. Even the unfolding “hybrid” and EV car cultures bring an esprit de corps within these communities of vehicle owners.
On any weekend in cities and towns and roadsides car enthusiasts can be found gathering to share their energies and efforts to take on projects together. Across the years through generations, perhaps it may continue to be about swapping out a camshaft or induction system. Yet today, there are increasing numbers of high-tech projects that are more about recalibrating fuel trim and spark control for computer controls via a laptop.
For the more “finished” wheels that can show up, it might mean simply waxing paint finishes and cleaning up the chrome trim. What has been around as long as the cars has been the “camaraderie” in the friendships and bonds that are forged around the shared understandings that give ready admittance into a circle of individuals who speak with a common vocabulary — not a code, necessarily, though not everyone could walk up and speak the language of car guys. It might just be knowing when you hear it right, or hear it wrong … and know the difference. Maybe you’ve been there in a circle of discussion: “Anyone hear got small-block 327 Ford?” Another might gently correct the statement, “You mean a 327 Chevy, don’t you?” “Yeah, I mean Chevy. That’s it, the one with the four-bolt camshaft and cross-drilled injectors.” Maybe that’s the invisible price of admission — you may inherit wealth, but when you are authentic it becomes something that money can’t buy. In the subjects and people invited into this website the common denominator is what is authentic — and the celebration of that gift of camaraderie.
An Afternoon with a Legend: Interview with Packard Test Driver Michael Kollins
Inside the automotive circles of Detroit there are generations of individuals who have expressed their gifts and talents across their careers in the auto industry. Here on the CarGuy2CarGuy videos you can join for a visit with one of the original Detroit ‘car guys’ before there was such a term in the lingo of the automotive circles. There have been a variety of terms used over the past century to describe auto buffs: scorchers, motorheads, gearheads, car nuts, car buffs or car enthusiasts — yet the early pioneers who were the hard workers in Detroit’s ‘Golden Years’ were the ‘auto men’ of their era. Click over from below to meet Michael Kollins, auto man extraordinaire.
Michael was an amazing interview for a number of reasons, including the fact that at the time of the video conversation he was almost 90 years old. You have to ask yourself, as much as it might be interesting to spend a career in the design or manufacture of ‘refrigerators’ or ‘washing machines’, it is hard to envision a person still active with as much passion for appliances as Mr. Kollins had for cars. He was born in 1912 and he went right into the automotive career out of high school in 1930 as a service technician for the Dodge Brothers and then moved on to work in the Technical Data and Service Engineering Department for Packard Motor Car Company, then later as the Service Technical Manager and Warranty Manager for the Chrysler Corporation at the Highland Park Service Center.
Throughout his career, Kollins raced cars on the weekends (sound familiar?) and eventually served as an official at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he became Technical Inspector and later as Vice Chairman of the Technical Committee. When fellow journalist and motorsports enthusiast, Bob Stockton, joined to handle the video camera and shooting of this footage it was back in 2000. Imagine that Kollins was inducted into the Indianapolis “Old Timers Club” with Honorary Life Membership … in 1952. Now that is staying power and a passion for wheels!