(Full disclosure, I met and worked with the author when we both were employed at the same publishing company. I purchased Rob’s new self-published book, “Ran When Parked” at full price, directly from him and Rob sent me a personally inscribed copy.)
There is a mystique and interest in so-called “barn find” or “ran when parked” vehicles when they pop up on the Internet. Many of us who own and wrench on vintage cars always keep a dream alive in the back of our head, about buying some far off old car and road tripping it home. “Ran When Parked” is the hard reality of that dream. It can be done, but are you willing and able to take the correct steps to make it happen?
Rob Siegel, aka The Hack Mechanic, has spent nearly four decades playing with old BMWs. Siegel’s story is the story of all car enthusiasts who spend time working on old cars. Dealing with rusty parts, diagnosing common and odd issues. However, in the end, it’s all about the drive.
Siegel takes the reader from inception of this concept of road tripping a long dead car, to completion. Remarkably, this entire car resurrection odyssey, including the writing and publishing of the book, takes place in a condensed timeline. Siegel frequently shares his automotive escapades on Facebook with his many fans, I too enjoy following along. So, the events that take place in “Ran When Parked” are familiar in a way if you were already a Hack Mechanic fan. I saw many of events depicted in the book play out in real time. Suddenly what was just some Facebook posts back in January, February, and March of 2017 is now a book, in my hands, in May 2017. Talk about instant gratification.
“Ran When Parked” is not just about a guy who fixes old BMWs. There is a commonality that runs through all car enthusiasts. Siegel touches on this in the book; a shared experience of working on or driving cars. Siegel feels wrenching or driving gives car enthusiasts some control in an uncontrollable world. Now, social media has expanded the circle of like minded enthusiasts you get to meet thought cars. Those seemingly benign connections over a shared love of a particular brand or model then turn into meaningful and beneficial relationships. “Ran When Parked” is as much about waking up a crusty old BMW 2002 nicknamed Louie as it is about the people who helped Siegel make it happen.
“Ran When Parked” is not all fluff and romance about how easy it is to resurrect some long forgotten car like it is on reality T.V. As Siegel states in the book:
“… the idea that you’d simply fly in, get in, and point and squirt some shitbox in the direction of home and fix repeatedly as it breaks repeatedly is ludicrous.”
We all want to do it that way, but the reality of it is not at all practical. While the story of how Louie (the) Agave (green) 1972 BMW Tii came into Siegel’s life is told in his distinct and entertaining Hack Mechanic voice. Siegel still manages to weave his significant 30-year knowledge of vintage BMWs into the story. The devil is in the details and this is where “Ran When Parked” does not simply gloss over the nitty gritty. Siegel approaches the task of reviving a long dormant vintage car with the care and planning that comes with his years of experience. Then knowing that at some point, you must screw your courage to the sticking place and go for it. “Ran When Parked” is not full of dry step-by-step instructions. It reads more like a friend giving you helpful advice on car repairs. Do this, don’t do that, here’s why. Tips and advice that can be applied to resurrecting any vintage car.
The book is also reflective of our show and tell society. What good is doing something, if you can’t show anyone? While Siegel could have saved hours of time and effort simply shipping the car. There’s no entertainment in that for the reader. If you’re looking for something quick and fun to read during a summer stay at the beach or cabin by the lake you can’t go wrong with “Ran When Parked”.
While not heavy on photographs, Siegel does treat the reader to snapshots of the journey.