If the traffic in front of our house is not too heavy, I usually back into the driveway. This saves precious seconds during quick getaways when crisis condiments are required for that special meal Lisa is preparing.
I appreciate the vehicle’s stance in the driveway, grilling at passersby, or catching adoring glances from us out our kitchen window.
I recently remembered the Buick Enclave we drove for a week last winter. Lisa and I clocked about 1,000 kilometres behind the wheel, much of it in the messy, slippery conditions of a classic Maritime winter, where the all-wheel-drive Buick quietly strutted its stuff with composure and confidence.
Whoever was driving would usually back it into the driveway, of course.
One chilly day in the driveway, an interesting feature surfaced. I had left the engine running while I walked to the back of the vehicle to unload a box from the rear cargo area before leaving on an errand.
And there they were, dual whiffs of exhaust vapour, puffing from two unobtrusive pipes tucked up under the bumper, almost out of sight. Hidden duals.
From that moment, I felt a little different driving the Enclave.
Some car manufacturers put duals right in your face – chrome tips like the $900 option on our 911 Carrera, quad tips or even side pipes.
But tastefully hung, semi-hidden twice pipes are something I’ve always appreciated.
Heck, I feel more successful driving a car with a set of hard-to-spot factory-installed dual exhaust.
I remember secretly checking the weather channel a little more closely while that Enclave was around last winter. Dual exhaust weather, one of the few joys of a cold snap.
When I was an adolescent car nut in Moncton in the 1960s, I used to fantasize about Dad buying a car with factory duals.
The sound of them at idle. The low pitch stereo blat of a Detroit V8.
Then it happened.
Dad bought a new 1963 Mercury Custom Monterey. The peacock turquoise dazzler sported a Breezeway rear window, 390 4-barrel V-8 and YES! – factory dual exhaust nestled up behind the back bumper on each side.
Sometimes, on brisk winter days, my father would drive me and twin brother, Larry, to school. My heart would swell as we drove by a girl I had a crush on. She would surely be impressed with the Sowerbys’ Custom Monterey sporting factory duals.
After dropping us off, I’d watch Dad pull away, hoping the pipes would be puffing evenly, not like our neighbour’s 327 Chevy Impala. Their duals often puffed a little heavier on one side. Save the Sowerby clan that embarrassment.
Our time with the Enclave fleshed out some grand memories of cars I’ve owned with dual exhaust; a couple of VW Beetles, the 2004 Porsche 911, the now-sold 65’ Ford F100 and the 1984 GMC Suburban, our Africa-Arctic expedition truck.
But the only one with hidden duals was a massive 455 CI 1975 Oldsmobile Toronado.
When I drove that beast on frosty mornings, I would find myself foolishly wondering if people behind me at traffic lights were thinking: “Hey! That Toronado has hidden dual exhaust. And they’re puffing evenly. Cool dude driving it, I bet.”
I tried to explain this all to Lisa. She half-listened, eyes slightly glazed. She probably regarded me as immature, or thought I was avoiding acknowledgement of psychological manhood problems.
The days of dual exhaust are numbered though and the cool factor of ‘twice pipes’ is on the wane.
With electric vehicles poised to take over the planet, manufacturers are bolting fewer and fewer massive macho pipes out the back of cars and trucks.
But wait, they’re still out there and it’s February in Nova Scotia. Maybe a high pressure cold snap is on the way. Perfect for spotting hidden duals!