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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Our crazy obsession

I’ve often quoted an old friend, W.W., who said, “People are funny, aren’t we?”  By that philosophy, he included himself in the peculiarity of human behavior.  Regarding motor vehicles, his sentiment is certainly evident.

Judging by America’s network of pavement alone, our vehicle obsession is obvious.  To just about everyone who owns or operates one, a car or truck becomes a necessity of life.  The freedom of hopping into a personal vehicle at any time, with the ability to go anywhere, has maintained a mighty strong appeal since the first “horseless carriage” was built.

But oh, how it’s changed!  New car sales are currently rising toward record levels.  That’s happening despite record prices, combined with the fact that few things depreciate as rapidly or are so costly to insure and operate.  I do believe that automakers have improved their products at a steady rate, especially over the last decade, so that’s a good thing.  Now, when someone asks me which car is the best new car to buy, I reply, “You can’t buy a bad one.”

But I digress.  There are varying levels of vehicle obsession, and I’ll admit that I am at the end of the spectrum qualifying as most crazy.

Among vehicle owners, there are those who think of automobiles simply as transportation.  Though this group would not live without their wheels, they only perform “crisis” maintenance, seldom wash the outside, rarely vacuum the interior and never wash the inside of the windows.  Then, there are those who wash their cars more than once per week, vacuum daily and would not embark without clean windows.  That’s me.

And I’m not alone. Besides a daily driver or two, we who are afflicted in this way usually have one “special” vehicle or more.  The feature in the Spokesman-Review Auto Blog, My Favorite car, demonstrates this condition.  At times, such cars and trucks are like family members, and indeed often remain in families for multiple generations.

One of the most telling examples of this phenomenon is the proliferation of car shows crowding the calendar of events in small towns, big cities, and everywhere in between, especially during the months of summer.

A stellar representation of these shows is occurring this weekend.  Car d’Lane, an annual event in Coeur d’Alene, exemplifies auto obsession wonderfully.  In honor of these prized vehicles, downtown streets are closed to vehicular traffic in favor of a display area.  Owners regularly sit in folding chairs aside their treasures, eager to tell pertinent stories to fellow owners and passers-by.

The festivities surrounding these events generally extend further than a simple show.  For example, there is a swap meet at Car d’Lane, where vendors display their rare wares and hobbyists search for missing parts or nifty accessories.  At the same venue, Silver Auctions holds a collector car auction, where the newly-afflicted can make a buy or the already-obsessed can add to their “stable.”

For parts seekers, one of the biggest local swaps, The Early Ford V-8 Club swap meet just took place last weekend.  You’ll have to wait a year for the next one, but it exhibits acres of vendors at the Spokane Fairgrounds.  And, not surprisingly, the weekend affair includes a car show and auction.

Even if you are not a “car nut,” you’ll find plenty of entertainment, even if it’s only people-watching, at these festive events occurring somewhere nearly every summer weekend.

Readers may contact Bill Love via email at


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