Yes it is MOT time, and as I write, Wilbur is currently standing on a ramp, undergoing a service and an MOT test. Those three letters have the power to cause fear among even the hardiest and most seasoned classic car owners. The thought that some hidden fault on our precious car will come to light is bad enough, the fact that it will likely cost us more than a family spend at Christmas is even worse. I pity any MOT tester checking a classic, the owner – pacing up and down in the waiting area, like an expectant parent, or even worse following the tester around as though it is the poor mecahnic, not the car, under examination.
The fear I have is looking underneath Wilbur, to find a chassis rapidly dissolving in a haze of road salt. Now I use Wilbur in the winter, and am careful to wash the underside and arches as best I can. But even still, lets not kid ourselves, Wilbur is 55 and the chances of being completely rust free are only likely if I spent thousands on a ground up restoration.
So I have to say that I am aware that Wilbur’ s lower front wings as well as the front and rear valance panels will need some attention in the future. There is no escaping it. I see it every time I give him a wash.
Unless we are aiming to create some kind of “ratrod’ special (not really Wilbur’s style) then rust could hardly be described as an attractive feature of any classic. That’s why so much effort and cost is made and paid to get rid of it, to prevent it.
Or so it would seem!
So it would appear.
Now, perhaps many of us out there can recall cars we have seen (or worse still brought) that have been the subject of some pretty poor repairs to rust areas. Let us just say that a cursory glance at Google images will reveal people who have, (how does one put this?) – varying degrees of ability when it comes to rust repair. You could say there are some cars out there that could take ‘lightweight’ to a whole new level. There are cars which have some interesting styling ‘modifications’; to their original shape in order to hide the rust, – bulges and bubbles on one side whilst the other side is smooth and clean. Now as a former designer I get that some people like the asymmetric look – but really.
More alarming – are the cars where all seems perfect, where on the surface, all appears well but are hiding bodged repairs, or deep dark patches of rust slowly eating up the structure. Sadly people invest heavily on purchasing a particular car, only to find they have been tricked, either by their own unchecked enthusiasm or a dubious and deceitful seller.
Yup rust is a reality and it is amazing what some people will do to cover it up, and sad to see others taken in by it – all because something looks so good.
And like cars, so it is with people.
You see, the reality is that we all have stuff in life that is like rust – it eats away at us, stuff like hurts, anger, guilt, regret, unforgiveness, jealousy, self doubt, a deep need for approval that stops us being ourselves, an aching for attention.
Does that last sentence make for uncomfortable reading?
Let us be honest with ourselves.
I know it is the case with me.
In a world where people want to project a ‘right’ image of themselves, we are often trying to escape or hide the ‘rust’ in our own lives.
And here is the really challenging bit.
We can become expert at condemning and judging others because it then takes the focus off our own ‘rust’.
We can tut at the mistakes of others, especially when they are found out, or when a Twitter comment they made from 10 years ago gets dragged out in the open.
But if we are really, painfully, brutally honest – we have things which would make us feel distinctly uncomfortable if they got brought to light.
So let us be honest be about the rust we all have, because honesty is the start to resolving and dealing with it. Let us stop judging the rust we see in others. Jesus spoke about how a person with a great plank of wood in their eye cannot even begin to judge the one who has a speck in their’s. Now I know cars were not a common part of life in Israel 2000 years ago, but I cannot help but think that he would have used rust as his illustration today.
And let us love those around us who are struggling with their rust, who are desperate to be brave and deal with it, but fear the reaction we and others might give them.
In the bible the greatest commandments are not about being respectable, being ‘good’ or even being ‘religious’ (whatever that means).
No they are about love – loving God, and loving other people. How often do we in the church get that wrong. How often has it been more about …..dare I say ‘keeping up religious appearances’.
And how often is life lived like that as well? Keeping up the appearance of being successful, happy, rich, middle-class, superiorly educated, the perfect parent, the ‘good’ person. We don’t have to be religious to play the same game.
So as you read this, if you are aware of the rust within, please know that this is written by someone else who is also rusty, and it is written with prayers that if you are taking that brave step of addressing that rust – you know peace and strength and love from the one I believe able to deal with your rust and mine.
Adam Gompertz started his career as a nurse, then as an apprentice at a Classic Aston Martin restoration company, then a Car designer for MG Rover, Design Storz GMBH, Dubois Naval Architects, and finally Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Goodwood. He left Rolls Royce to become a priest which he continues to this day. Wilbur is his trusty steed in the form of a Rover P4 100.
Photo; Lies De Mol
Art from Adam here.