Backfire backfires

Backfire backfires


It took me 50 years or so to get a high-performance car, so I never had the opportunity in my younger years to enjoy the sound of hundreds of dollars of tire rubber being left behind me on the road.

Besides, back then, I always drove “may-pops,” as we called retreads (may pop now or may pop later) because they fit my budget, which was usually just north of zero and because the cars I had featured engines that wouldn’t run your hair dryer, much less cause a break in the relationship between its wheels and the earth.

My first car was a 1949 Chevy, whose most interesting feature was that you could see the road through a softball size hole in the passenger side floor. It was excellent for stealth littering, a crime I committed whenever someone decided that tailgating me was a good idea.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as being tailgated by load of yahoos in a hot car as you induce them to back off by emptying onto the road through the aforementioned hole a large bag of dried navy beans. I called it the “Legume Protocol.”

One other thing this banger was noted for was having a clutch and transmission so mushy that I could pretend to have a five-speed instead of a three-speed by shifting into either first or second gear multiple times in no particular order and without bad results. That thing had more whine in it than a Florida retirement home.

I should note that it also was generally admired for its ability to produce a Richter scale quality backfire. All you had to do to accomplish this shock-and-awe explosion was turn off the ignition, pump the gas pedal about 50 times real quickly, and turn on the ignition.


Oh, it was thing of beauty, at least until one fateful day when a group of us were circling a local adult soccer tournament.

“Want to hear something cool?” I asked, as I made ready for the great event.

“I don’t think you really want to do that,” my friend Doug the junior physicist replied. “It’s called engine compression and you could blow up your muffler …


All you could see was soccer players diving for cover, other people ducking and then, out of the din could be heard this little “tinkle, tinkle” of pieces of metal hitting the road behind us.

“I think that was more than your muffler,” Doug said.

He was correct. It was two more years before I got my next car and, worse, it didn’t even have a hole in the floor.


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