Friday, September 20, 2013
Peter Egan and Side Glances
One of my favorite Saturday rituals is reading Road and Track. Once a month, for the past twenty odd years, I'll sit down with the latest issue and a cup of coffee and turn immediately to Peter Egan's "Side Glances" column. This month was no different. I opened the magazine to his column and begin reading about his latest purchase, a VW Jetta TDI Sportwagen. That's when I found out he was retiring.
I've been a subscriber of Road and Track for the past 30 years, in large part because of Peter Egan's writing. The first story I remember reading was about buying an Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite, one which he'd owned previously, and driving it from Wisconsin to California. After that I was hooked. Over the years I read about driving a Ferrari Dino in the snow, travel by Ford Model A, and taking a couple of old Cadillacs along the blue highways. I've followed along as he's rebuilt various cars like MGBs, Lotus Elans, a Porsche 356, and Jaguar E-Type. He's also owned several modern cars that are on my short list, including a Jaguar XK8 convertible and Porsche Boxster.
What makes Peter Egan's writing so appealing to me is his combination of wit, clean prose, and ability to tell a good story. He also explains what I find compelling about cars, like this paragraph from a recent column titled "Cars of Occasion":
There's something in most of us (if we're car buffs) that likes owning at least one vehicle whose emergence from the garage makes us feel as if we're rolling out the big guns. It's the automotive counterpart of opening a hangar door and pushing an airplane into the sunlight, a sense that something slightly sacramental is taking place. It doesn't have to be a large or expensive car, as long as it sidesteps the casually assured perfection of the modern SUV, minivan, or family sedan.
Peter Egan has made a career writing about "cars of occasion," and taking vehicles that sidestep the casually assured perfection of the modern car on interesting trips across the back roads of America. Now he is retiring his regular column, giving him more time to move about and explore.
As I get older, I've grown to appreciate that all good things come to an end. But like all good things, there are memories to cherish, and in the case of of Peter Egan's writing, 30 years of "Side Glances" and other stories to read and enjoy.