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Cover-Wit Will & Angels

So it turns out my mother is a writer too.

She's authored a geniune page-turner of an autobiography about her life, and Crunch! has published this work. You can read more about this project here...

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Recreational writing:

The Incredible Un-guyness of Being:
The Story of the SPL311 Roadster

© Garrett Klassen. All rights reserved.


I’ve been thinking for a time about buying a summer car. I drive a lot. My current commitment to North American motoring is nearing the end of its lease. So all in all, I reason, this is a good time to think about splitting my mileage between two vehicles, and maybe having a little fun.

Not coincidentally, I have also reached that peculiar point in every adult male’s life when he feels the need to make a fundamental guy-kind of change.

It’s called owning a convertible.

The whole silly notion started because I happened to rent one not long ago while on a Florida vacation. Unfortunately, I live in the north, where the making of vehicle ownership decisions is traditionally based more on practicality than on a poorly timed erection.

This was about the same time I noted the ad in a local paper for the Classic Car Auction. I cut it out and posted it on my bulletin board.

When the October day came, I drove off to my various errands. I try to start each Saturday with a list. The auction was number four. I usually don’t make it much past three.

By the time I got there, it was mid-afternoon. My objective was to look around, get re-educated, learn about the price of old things.


The kind of activity guys need to do in order to visualize the outcome of a thing before they actually begin it. (Women rarely understand this. They don’t get that the reason we haven’t yet started a project is because we have not yet completed it in our minds.)

So it was, in walking across this buffed expanse of history, that I remembered the candy store on the corner of the street where I grew up. The store was called Parkside Sweets, and it was directly in my path on the way to Grade One. They sold other things there besides sweets, but of course I never noticed. It was the red, strawberry-shaped marshmallow things that were two for a penny, the Double-Bubble and the jaw-breakers that made the rest of the world irrelevant, and me, oblivious. We’d spend a nickel between my brother and me, and we’d have bought just about everything that had value in the world.

That’s what stood on the floor that day. Row after row of gleaming chrome, virtually perfect in every meaningful way. Car after car put voice to throttle and joined the queue, lambs to the block, following willingly; prospective buyers inspecting their entrails, reading the sound of their breathing, each one more spectacular than the last, each one a lover, if not to you then to someone before you and to someone else surely standing beside you.

Parkside Sweets with hormones.

Love should not have to be specific to one person or car, and I was standing in the fullness of that proof.

At any rate, the whole thing was a wonderful fantasy. I saw the Corvair I had always thought I wanted. It had passed by the hammer: the reserve hadn’t been lifted, so the car was still for sale. I imagined the prospect in detail.

By now it was well after five, so in preparing to leave I decided again to sit down. A modified Testerossa sold for 130K. A less desirable snapshot cousin fetched just 60.

I rose and started down the aisle to leave as they called up the 1967 Datsun Roadster. The bid opened at $1,000. I stopped and turned to watch.

I had become accustomed to the patter and styles of the ringmen and the auctioneer. But I had had difficulty all afternoon picking out the faces of the actual bidders. I now attempted this in earnest.

I remembered having looked in some detail at this car because of its singularity. I had read its bio, admired its lines and listened to the breath note.

The uninterrupted metre of the auctioneer’s call suddenly broke.  “We’re selling the car!” He started anew, the energy suddenly real.

I came with a jolt to full attention.

This meant the reserve had been lifted. The seller had heard enough to establish the credibility of the price, or to achieve at least a partial financial goal. Perhaps it was a victory in principle, or simply time to move on, who knows. Just a few hundred dollars later, the bidding stalled. Time stood still. The auctioneer called final bid. The spotter chopped his hand across the audience seeking contact. As his eyes met mine, I realized in a moment of total unguy-ness that the car was bid at half the price of my last computer.

My hand shot into the air as the spotter acknowledged.  “YEAP!”.

Bidding stopped after that. The auctioneer called out his sweetly familiar. “Roll the car!” He asked the final question.

There must have been a negative from the previous bidder, because in a heartbeat the gavel fell and the Datsun SPL311 roadster was suddenly and effectively mine.

I felt the room exhale, but then again, it might only have been me.

Immediately the spotter waved me to him; I thought, only to confirm the veracity of what in my own mind was already an incredibly preposterous decision.

Instead of revealing me as the liar and fake that I was, he shook my hand. He looked me in the eye and said, “Congratulations!”, and I believed him. In the same motion, he waved over to a sweet-young-thing who wanted to have my children but who instead hustled me up a flight of stairs to take my money.

The rest of the weekend, though, was the best part, because I knew it was the only time I would ever have to simply wonder about what it was I had truly bought. It was the only moment I could believe in a treasure, without knowledge or fear of the moment of learning the truth.

Which of these it is, I do not yet know. The following Monday, I picked up the Datsun SPL311 and drove to a garage. Everyone tells me it’s a very rare car. All I know is I squeaked the tires in two gears without meaning to.

Who knows? I may sell the Datsun SPL311 by spring.

But not before I fully picture myself with the top down, and thoroughly consider what alternatives are more desirable than that, none of which I can image, at this moment.


©Garrett Klassen is president of Crunch! Communications in Elora, Ontario, Canada.


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