Last weekend it was warm, and I drove with my Jeep’s windows down. As I neared home, I turned onto my street and the neighbor on the corner yelled: “Your car is too loud!” Huh?” I jokingly thought to myself with a snicker.
Yes, indeed the Jeep’s Hemi was loud, and this particular neighbor lived on the corner, so he had to listen to the Hemi blast off at the stop sign, every time I went somewhere. I knew the muffler had developed a leak last year when my check engine light came on. We had replaced some sensors, but still it remained lit. The Mopar forums all suggested an exhaust leak, and as time passed, it became louder and louder and LOUDER confirming that.
“Mom, do you know when you start the Hemi in the garage, all the pictures rattle on the walls?” My son mentioned, when I told him about the neighbor’s comment. Cool, I giggled with pride, beaming at him. I could tell he thought it was cool, too.
You see, the sound wasn’t the painfully obnoxious sound you typically hear when a muffler has gone bad. It was the sweet sound of nostalgia. It was the heart-thumping rumble of the past, when one moment you are idling and hear the glug, glug, glug of the engine, and then you step on the pedal and whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa suddenly you are NASCAR-ing down the freeway in exhilaration, engine roaring.
I reminisced to my youngest son about the good-old-days and an old ’69 Plymouth my boyfriend back in the 80’s had given me to drive. I think about how teenagers these days are denied the sounds, the torque, the smell of unburned gas and burning oil of the muscle cars of my youth.
When I was younger, some people jokingly referred to our house as “motorhead mansion” due to the number of cars in the driveway in various states of rebuild. Our family had 11 children, and with some of us having 2 or more cars, our yard was quite the sight! The street in front of our house was alive with the summer sounds of muscle cars roaring past on their way to cruise through the park across the street. How I miss that.
Today’s cars, with their computers and other improvements, would likely outperform the old cars in most aspects. But they lack the “rumble and the glug,” to accompany the speed. It’s like something’s missing. Yes, there are many modern dream cars, but none of them sing the song of a roaring engine, set free from modern muffling constraints.
Now my darling Hemi, with the big old hole in her muffler, had at last found her voice and she sang like a siren, capturing my son’s heart, and awakened the memories in mine. She even impressed my brothers, who were surprised that the hole allowed her that deep rumble and purr.
Sadly, I had to conform and silence her voice, else face the wrath and ire of the neighbors, not to mention it was getting more difficult to creep past quietly, the local Johnny Law. Thankfully, Phil, our friend and mechanic extraordinaire, replaced the muffler in no time. However, I felt like I just neutered my dog. Sad, but the necessary job was done.
For several weeks I had felt young again, like I was driving that old Plymouth, shifting gears, roaring ears. The Hemi has always been fast, but she had never sounded so damn good. And now, in addition to bringing me a taste of my youth, her rumbling heart had whet the appetite of the next generation, for what once was.