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..: stories

..: Kickoff

The manager of the building we live in is pretty nice to us. His sons both drive lowered Honda Civics, and they are frequently spending time and money to enhance them. I never know which set of rims, seats or what ride height will be installed on their cars. Having the same model cars, the brothers even swap parts between them. One brother has a black carbon fiber racing hood, and sometimes that hood is on his older brother's Civic hatchback. It's like mix and match. They swap car parts the way sisters swap sweaters.

The other night, I came home to see that the older brother had his Civic hatchback returned to stock ride height, and he was installing his stock seats back into the car. His stock rims were also on the car. This brother is the less talkative of the two, and is rarely interested in talking cars, at least with a poser like me. He is what you'd call an import tuner purist. All go, no show. He is a racer. He had long taken out his back seats, and there was no carpet inside the car. When you sat in that car, your feet touched the bare metal floorboard. Even the plastic kickplates and trim from the front doors back had been removed. No speakers, no spare tire, no deck lid. A purist. He even exhibits incredible restraint by not installing clear taillights, sidemarkers or clear corner lenses.

Today, it looked as though that something special was happening. Something that every owner of a modified car thinks about, but few are able to accomplish. Something I did not too long ago with my beloved Integra GSR.

I spoke up as I passed him in the parking garage. "Selling your car, huh?" It sure looked like a lot of work. When I sold my beloved Integra last year, it took about three weeks to remove all my custom parts, and to reinstall all the factory parts. It would take me weeks alone to change out my springs, much less return a car like this to stock condition. His uphostery was all back in the car. Rear deck installed. Everything back to normal exept that huge instrument cluster on the dash. I always wondered what that thing did.

"No," he said. "I'm getting it painted."

I was stunned. I may not know as much about cars as he did, but I knew that when you get a car painted, it's better to remove parts than to install them before the paint job. The look of stupor on my face caused him to clarify.

"I'm returning the car to stock for the insurance adjustor. When he comes out, he will see the car is in stock condition so I can make my claim. Painting this car will be expensive, damn expensive. So I'm having insurance pay for it. Nothing inside is tacked down. The carpet is just lying there, I can rip it out in two minutes."

Oh. This is interesting. Not at all what I thought. "What color are you going to paint it?" I asked, sort of changing the thread of the conversation.

"S2000 Grey."

I went upstairs. I thought about telling kj, but realized it wasn't all that interesting. Not sure if I said anything, but it's normal for us to share about what the brothers were doing to their cars. It seemed odd to me, though, that he would be getting insurance to pay for the paint job. Thing is, his car has no damage, no dents, not even a scratch. Heck, I don't think I even saw it dirty before. I thought that you had to have something wrong with your car in order to claim insurance money. Like a fender bender or something. Just seemed like something was missing.

In the morning, I took the stairs down to the garage. I opened the door and saw his red Civic. There was a huge dent on the rear quarter panel, and part of the door was dented as well. A deep key scratch ran across this side of the car. I went to the other side. Another deep key scratch. Front passenger fender was also kicked in. All of the damage, done by hand, or foot. Sometime in the night after I went up to my apartment, this guy kicked the crap out of his own beloved car. So that he could claim insurance. So that he could repaint it S2000 gray.

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