The Case for Leaving the Damn Car as it Is


I have a small front deck off my upstairs bedroom. I’m not exaggerating when I say small, either – though it is about 10 feet long, it only extends out about 4 feet from the front wall. Once you factor in the cookie-cutter railing, the window and door sills, and other assorted trim items, there’s probably only about 3 1/2 feet of useable surface. So, like all my other neighbors with units so-equipped, for a long time I just left it empty.

Hanging ChairOne day last year, though, after a glass or two of scotch and one too many episodes of “Treehouse Masters,” I decided that it was the ideal space for a hanging hammock chair.

Actually, first I hoped for a full hammock, but that was, to put it mildly, a bit too ambitious. There is a better chance of fitting LeBron in a dorm bed than a hammock on a deck that small.

After some vigorous measuring, though, I determined a hanging chair would indeed fit – but only if I ordered a certain kind of frame, since there is not an overhang from which I could suspend it. And that’s where things start to get a bit tricky.

I found several great examples of frame and chair matched sets using the C-frame I would need to fit the space, but none of the chairs quite measured up to the grand idea I had in my head of a treehouse space. So, as all “thorough” shoppers do these days, I set about piecing together my ideal arrangement from Amazon.

First I found the perfect chair – high quality cotton, with wood supports, and exactly the visual appeal I wanted. Then I scored a great deal on a frame from a totally different manufacturer. To top off the package, I got a rotating mounting hook so that I would be able to face the thing out when I sat.

In my mind it was perfect, and everything went together with ease as well. The first time I stood back and took it all in, it was a thing to behold.

Then I climbed in, and things started to go a bit wrong. To say I sat “in” it would be a charitable description, since the moment I put my weight down, I found my lower extremities resting solidly (and uncomfortably) on the base of the frame. Not really the suspended seating arrangement I had in mind.

More annoyingly, it was completely impossible to achieve a comfortable resting position for my legs. Instead, I felt (and probably looked) like a rookie diver trying to execute pike position for the first time.

I bought the thing so I could occasionally sit outside and relax, or work on some of the editing I do for another blog. Because the parts didn’t work together, though, whenever I did so it was in a folding lawn chair I got at Walmart for $20, arranged neatly next to an empty C-frame.

And this brings me to my point on cars.

It should stand to reason that a car built in, say, 1997 could be improved by applying some of the knowledge and technology gleaned in the ensuing 18 years. A modern suspension system, for instance, designed using the latest computer modeling and built with the newest materials, should be a major improvement over what came from the factory, right? Same with a set of upgraded intercooler pipes – smoother, more efficient air flow and higher quality materials can only make things better, no?

Thing is, the original parts, for better or worse, were designed at the same time as the car and therefore fit exactly as they should.

The intercooler piping? Well, now that touches the transmission cooler line, resulting in a really irritating rattle. Will it also rub the line and create a leak? Better hope not.

That fancy suspension? After you spend 6 hours setting the ride height and adjusting the dampers, the alignment guy comes out and tells you there isn’t enough adjustability to bring the camber back in to spec.

And it rides like a big-wheel on a gravel driveway.

Even though the upgrades were designed and built specifically for the car, they weren’t designed and built with the car, and that nearly always causes some kind of Newtonian negative effect somewhere you weren’t expecting. You start out with grand intentions of massive improvements and images of canyon-blasting running through your head. Then you end up sitting in the proverbial lawn chair, shaking your head and grumbling at the suddenly-much-worse car, in to which you just sunk a grand.

Yet millions of people spend millions more dollars attempting to mix and match “upgrades” in the hopes of improving their cars -and it nearly never works out as they hoped.

Save yourself the agitation: just let the damn car work the way it was designed.


About Chris Nelson

Chris is a writer and communicator with backgrounds in public relations, communication, political science and automotive technology. He holds an M.A. from Rowan University and a B.A. from Susquehanna University in addition to a certificate in Auto Tech from Lincoln Technical Institute.

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