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Car Heroes: David Lane

July 31, 2011 by Matt

David Lane's Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE CarTech Turbo

It’s cliché, but even in the car world, we’re not islands untethered, but stand on the shoulders of those who have come before and had an impact on us. This post begins a new series paying tribute to those people I consider seminal in my development as a car buff.

When reflecting on the forces that shaped my perspective on cars in general, I look back most often to a gentleman named David Lane. David is Director of Admissions at Peabody Conservatory and a long-time fixture on the first-generation (’79-’85) Mazda RX-7 mailing list. Our car interests occupy different orbits now, but his influence on my early days of tinkering is something of an anchor in my mind.

Our paths crossed in late ’99 on the first-gen RX-7 e-mail list. E-mail lists seem to be an obsolescent species nowadays, as natural selection continues to favor the more accessible medium of online forums. That said, David’s even-keel and avuncular demeanor complemented the e-mail list format perfectly; his talents would be wasted in the bite-size, rapid-fire world of forums. He excelled in online diplomacy, holding the list together through many flame wars and other disagreements. His warm writing style underscored the wisdom he offered to guys like me, often discouraged by speed bumps and setbacks in the course of our first car projects. And when it was all said and done and I had completed my first engine swap in the summer of 2000, David extended the kind of verbal pat on the back that made me feel like I had been initiated into the ranks of the mechanically accomplished, even though there were many pitfalls yet to come.

And then there was his car. You can read the full spec sheet here, but suffice it to say that it remains a legend in the first-gen RX-7 world, the “pinnacle of one path of automotive evolution,” as one fan remarked. It created a sort of template in my mind of the attributes I would aspire to create in whatever project car I took on: Understated style, attention to detail, and well-sorted but brutal performance when the hammer was down.

More than that, though, his words in the following article provided a philosophical foundation for my opinions about the cars and communities I would come into contact with in the ensuing years. It’s written with RX-7s in mind, but the principles it contains are transferable to any model of car owners feel a passion for. It’s worth the read.

Read the article…

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