Project Audinary: Getting One's Swagger Back

IMAG4968 The effect that a new shirt can have on you is staggering. A night out is transformed through the simple expedient of knowingly looking fly, especially if you’ve gone through an extended period of being somewhat down at heel. To catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, looking smarter, crisper, fresher than you remember being before often leads to a renewed optimism, a boost in confidence and a spring in your step. So when you get to the club you’re far more likely to cast your line and go fishing than to sit on the shoreline and collect whatever rubbish is washed up. The same is true with cars. Also true is that it sometimes takes a catalyst to get you off your arse and actively start doing something to pick yourself out of the doldrums. For me, a few weeks ago, it was the misery of experiencing a blow-out on my way into work. It was 07:34 on a grey, sun-free morning. The air was heavy with dew, the air temperature only a little above freezing. A fairly typical morning on the threshold of spring. My right front tyre had been losing air for quite a long time, in truth. I had gotten into the habit of using my 12 volt tyre compressor every fourth morning to top it back up to 36PSi, or the “free air” machine at the local supermarket on my way home from work. The latter, incidentally, had been broken / under maintenance for at least a month prior. One morning, against my better judgement, I couldn’t be bothered and reckoned “I’d be alright” until after work. So I drove there on a half-flat tyre with a view to properly inflating it on my way home. In the evening I set off and then swiftly remembered that the pump at the supermarket was SNAFU, and instead pulled into a lay-by on my route home and set up my compressor. This was where my own stupidity really began to come to the fore. I had somehow left my air-pressure gauge in my other car, so I had to rely on the in-built gauge on the compressor, which I know to be hopeless. It was also really dark in the lay-by, so I couldn’t really even read that gauge and, naturally, because I was using my spare key I didn’t have my trusty Maglite Solitaire to use. So I went by feel. Shitty idea that turned out to be. IMAG4971 The tyre felt fine when I first set off, but I increasingly became aware of how harsh cats-eyes felt under my wheels. It actually felt like a suspension bushing or ball-joint issue, and the idea that I had possibly over-inflated my tyre never occurred to me. I made it home fine, and then, in a penultimate act of incompetence, I parked up and didn’t give it another thought. Next morning I leapt straight into the car without having even considered the status of my front tyre, and in fact all felt pretty good for the first sector of my morning commute. Then, on the A120 just near Great Horkesley, my steering started to feel very strange. It wasn’t sudden, it kind of faded from absolutely fine to making no sense whatsoever. I knew that something was truly wrong when I found myself turning the wheel anticlockwise while taking a right hand bend. I stopped the car. First sensible thing I’d done in two days. The front right hand tyre was shredded, and the wheel was in a bit of a mess, too. The inner sidewall had parted company from the rest of the tyre and the cords were hanging out like entrails. Even though I’d pulled the car as far off the carriageway as was possible, I still had approximately 18″ of working space between me and the heavy lorries rumbling past after disembarking European ferries. By the time I had fitted the spare (which was on a brand new alloy having been unused since the car was new in ’98) I was cold, miserable and wet with numb hands which were torn to ribbons on the spindly jack and jagged wheel bolts. “Let’s fucking make this worth my while” I thought, and immediately booked all four of my wheels in for total refurbishment, along with a smashing new set of front tyres. IMAG5182 Wheelworx of Colchester were the chosen outfit and I must say they did a terrific job on my ancient AMG alloys, fitting my two new front tyres at the same time. But possibly better than having a shiny set of non kerbed-to-fuck rims was the psychological boost that came with it. More than I ever had before, I found myself consumed by an urge to set upon my eighteen year old Audi and detail it to within an inch of its life. To finally see it glinting in the sun has shamed me into realising how neglected I had let my car become. It received A Lot of maintenance last year, but precious little optimisation. Now my car has smart new shoes, I suddenly feel more inspired to do more work on what lies beneath the surface. (All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2016)

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