When I was making model airplanes with my father, he would always tell me two things: "Sand with the grain" and "Never do a job half-assed". As much as I rebelled against the majority of his teachings and opinions, those two seemed to stick. I was fully engaged in the hot rod culture in San Francisco and had a 48' Ford Coupe, which had forty coats of British racing green lacquer, sanded with fine sandpaper between each coat to create a richness and depth that couldn't be achieved without that kind of fanaticism and attention to detail. I still think that there are cars from the past, both custom and production, that are more interesting than most sculpture.
~Ron Nagle taking to Sterling Ruby in Kaleidoscope.
The 1953 Mercury was responsible for my ultimate disenchantment with cars. I spent the better half of a year painting that car. A friend of mine owned a body shop, and he let me use the shop on weekends. I sanded the mercury down to the raw metal, primed it, and painted it. Then I painted it again. And again. And then again. I went a little nuts, as I am prone to do, because I'm the kind of guy who if he can't have too much of a good thing doesn't want it at all. So one day I came out of the house (I was a student at the University of Florida then) and saw it, the 53 Mercury, the car upon which I had heaped more attention and time and love than I had ever given a human being. It sat at the curb, it's black surface a shimmering of the air, like hundreds of mirrors turned to catch the sun. It had 27 coats of paint, each coat laboriously hand rubbed. it seemed to glow, not with reflected light, but with some internal light of its own.
I stood staring, and it turned into one of those great scary rare moments when you are privileged to see into your own predicament. Clearly, there were two ways I could go. I could sell the car, or I could keep on painting it for the rest of my life. If 27 coats of paint, why not 127? The moment was brief and I understand it better now than i did then, but I did realize, if imperfectly, that something was dreadfully wrong, that the car owned me much more than I would ever own the car, no matter how long I kept it. The next day I drove to Jacksonville and left the Mercury on a used-car lot. it was an easy thing to do.
~Harry Crews, 'The Car' from Florida Frenzy.
* thanks J.Century for the push on Crews.