Are you invisible, is your vintage vehicle invisible ? Inquiring minds and so forth….

As a child, many of us would often imagine that we were invisible. A table cloth (sorry Mom) or an bed sheet (sorry Mom) would often serve as the magical cloaking device. With it, you could move freely about the world, or at least the living room where you had built the fort (sorry Mom). You would shush your siblings if they attempted to interact with you, using phrases like “Can’t you see I’m invisible ?”  You could get away with all manner of things in this state. Grab the last ice pop, or your brother’s favorite Hotwheels car, slip into the house past curfew (sorry Mom), accompany Dad to the pub (sorry Mom), and so on.

As an adult, you can sometimes make time disappear. If you leave your house while everyone else is sleeping, ride like the wind, engage in a transaction involving vehicles or parts, and return before the household is up and about, did you really go anywhere ? I once heard a scientist describe how the vision of a snail can only process an image every 3 seconds, so if you walk in and out of the field of vision within 3 seconds, you never really existed for the snail. You see where I’m going with this ?

If you hang around with guys who are into vintage iron, there is often one guy whose vehicle is invisible. You have heard about it, he has been on a quest for elusive parts for it, it is going to be ready by the first event next spring, one of the crew once saw a tarp in the corner of his garage that was reportedly the vehicle in question, but there is no empirical evidence that it exists. This is like the sign that says “Free beer, Tomorrow only”.

Sometimes, the guy himself ceases to exist for a while. I have certainly been in this category. The conversation goes something like….”So where have you been, you missed the backwoods barn tour last fall, and the spring show and shine, we thought you disappeared off the face of the earth ?” And you reply “Don’t ask, I’ve been reassembling the motor and I was researching what pistons to use, then there were the holidays, and then the conrods needed to be balanced and you know how long Gunther takes with those, and then I realized that I needed the special assembly lube that you can only get from Beringrad when the ice thaws, and…”

Customizers and modern car companies go to great lengths to make things invisible. Have you opened up the hood of a modern luxury car lately ? All you can see is a large plastic cover emblazoned with the name and logo of said maker. It is as if they don’t really want anyone to know that there is an engine propelling the vehicle. Customizers and vintage car/bike guys are not immune either. Wires are routed so as to be invisible on custom bikes. Electronic ignition hides beneath distributor caps, fake old radio facades hide digital entertainment centers, and fuel injection throttle bodies hide inside carburetor shells on retro bikes. Many of us keep vintage vehicles looking stock, but are willing to make changes for drivability, reliability, and safety as long as they are invisible. If you can’t see it, it must not exist.

Motorcyclists worry a lot about invisibility. The leading cause of car-bike accidents is a driver who didn’t see the bike. They turn left in front of an oncoming bike, or change lanes with a bike right beside them (and not just in the blind spot). Riders and the industry have responded with highway signs, modulating headlights, safety yellow apparel, and cruisers with obnoxiously loud pipes. All to avoid invisibility.

You can try to keep a vehicle invisible. There are many reasons for doing this, like keeping it elsewhere to surprise your teenager when she gets her license. The fact that she is currently 3 does not invalidate the argument. Or, you might simply have been keeping that old race bike (and the parts bike that goes with it) project from being under a tarp at the house, infuriating the neighborhood aesthetic police who would then put a lien on your house from the fines and file suit driving you destitute….but I digest. I won’t give away any trade secrets here, but suffice it to say that if a vehicle exists at an undisclosed location, does it really even exist at all ?

You can try to keep the budget for your vintage project invisible. Again, this is not necessarily because you raided the kids college fund for an aluminum trunk lid, or because you sold organs to finance the motor rebuild. There are generally three major reasons for this strategy. (A) You are a loving caring individual and you don’t want someone else to suffer the stress of knowing what a project has cost. (B) You don’t want to know (or don’t care) what a project has cost, and (C) You have the math skills of a Cactus.

If you combine financial invisibility with physical invisibility, there is no limit to what you can get away with. After all, our very own system of justice is blind, and premised on the fact that without witnesses and evidence, no crime can have taken place.

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