Ann's nutjob son has moved his car's engine to the back seat. Can she beat any sense into him?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 2008

Dear Tom and Ray:

My crazy son is 20 years old. He has been a mechanic since the day he was born. I am afraid his most recent project will be the death of him, and I am desperately seeking your opinion/advice. He has taken a 1989 VW Golf and moved the motor from its proper location under the hood to the back seat. Yes, you read that right. He has installed the motor in the passenger compartment, so the vehicle is now a rear-engine (or mid-engine, he says) car. It is monstrously loud and monstrously fume-y. In a concession to his mother, he wears earplugs while driving it, but when he enters the room after driving the car, he trails a cloud of exhaust fumes. I have begged him to at least install a fire shield around the engine, but my pleas are falling on deaf ears (literally, soon, I'm afraid). Now you know why I think he is crazy. Please give me some advice or ammunition that I can use to beat some sense into him. I am very much afraid of the health hazards that he has created for himself. What do you say? -- Ann

RAY: Ann, you poor thing. I'm sure our late mother would have felt your pain. Like her, you have the misfortune of having a son who's a nutjob.

TOM: Yeah, my mom had a terrible time with my brother.

RAY: I was talking about you.

TOM: Me??

RAY: Yeah. But unlike MY mother's nutjob, you have a very clever and talented nutjob, Ann! I mean, he's managed to engineer himself a cheapo Porsche. And he's done it -- at least so far -- without asphyxiating himself, setting himself on fire, crashing the car or digging a 2-inch groove in the back of his head with the newly repositioned fan belt.

TOM: And sometimes, if these nutjobs manage to live long enough, they're the ones who come up with brilliant inventions, or do things that more normal, non-wacko people would never think of.

RAY: You can try crying, Ann. That's what our mother did. And it worked some of the time. But at age 20, there's not a whole lot you can do. Any mistakes you made raising him are now permanently seared into his personality.

TOM: So if crying doesn't work, buy him a crash helmet, a flame-proof suit and some fire extinguishers for his birthday. Then insist that he drive with the windows open, hope he survives, does something to benefit humanity and has the decency to shower before dinner. Good luck.

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