Home » I Invited The Entire Internet To My House For A Car Party And It Got Wild

I Invited The Entire Internet To My House For A Car Party And It Got Wild

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“This is going to be a shitshow,” I repeatedly warned anyone who RSVP’d to the party I hosted back in February. I was in the process of moving out of metro Detroit after nearly a decade in the most automotive place on earth, and I still had tons of stuff to pack. A smart man would have focused on that, but I instead decided to host a party open to the general public. Here’s how that went.

I really didn’t have time to prep for a party. I had to make sure The Autopian was still serving its rapidly-growing audience, I had to handle business stuff like hiring and paying freelancers, I had to pack all my things that I’d accrued over the past decade (that included lots of car parts), I had to figure out how to transport or get rid of my vehicles (I owned over 10 at one point), and on and on. So, as I normally do when I need help with something: I went into my safe, removed the Pelican case from within, pulled out a lock from that case, laser-cut the 1/2-inch steel thick box inside that, and then pressed a button that sounded the early 1970s Beetle horn that summons Jason Torchinsky.

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I flew Torch to Detroit, picked him up in my beloved Jeep J10 (which I had just had undercoated and equipped with snow tires since I knew it would have to drive in the salt to get to California), and showed him the state of my house. Jason was, to put it lightly, deeply disappointed. “My god how is there still so much to clean?!” he yelled, especially in reference to my garage, which looked like this:

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The sheer dread present on Jason’s face when he realized that 1. There was still a mountain of work to do to move out and 2. He’d have to do this in horribly cold conditions was hilarious. Here’s Jason voicing his frustrations:

We didn’t know how many folks would show up to the party; roughly 40 had RSVP’d; maybe the living room, dining room, two bedrooms, and kitchen in the 1,000 square-foot house would suffice for the partygoers? It was going to have to, because there was no way we’d have that garage cleared out by 5:3o P.M. the following day. We only had about 30 hours to prep the place.

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Jason and I boxed up a bunch of junk, threw a huge pile of furniture out on the curb, moved some of the shelves I planned to bring to California to the front yard, and frantically tried to simultaneously plan for a party with a completely unknown number of attendees and also for a cross-country move involving two-ton dysfunctional vehicles needing to be moved somehow. Before we knew it, the party had begun.

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The shindig actually started in the most appropriate of places given that it was a celebration of my time in Detroit and of the incredible local readership who has supported me along the way: the junkyard. I figured folks would appreciate a short tour through my go-to ‘yard, especially since some attendees would be traveling from as far away as Mississippi! Yes, that’s right, this gentleman excitedly posing in front of his new Honda Odyssey minivan — Ross — sent me an email asking if he could fly in and crash at my crib (I’d offered readers floor-space):

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Here was Ross’s email, which, like all RSVPs, included the required proof of him not being a serial killer:

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My name is Ross and I have been a fan for years, although I rarely comment on articles and such (we have interacted on instagram a few times over the years)

Anywho I am not a serial killer (!) and live in Jackson, MS. Once you say the word I’d love to use my frequent flyer miles and buy a plane ticket to Detroit to come hang out in a junkyard/go to your party. Here’s a picture of me and my family with the newest automotive purchase, a new to us Honda Odyssey. Very exciting I know!

I’d also like to crash at your place to keep costs down, but let me know if hundreds of people have responded or anything like that.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you!

When I arrived at the junkyard, I was amazed to find folks from Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, and all parts of Michigan — it was a crew. We walked around the ‘yard on that sunny but frigid February afternoon, and just looked at incredible vehicular contraptions together. Everyone had their own interest, and everyone had something they could teach the rest of the group. It was a truly beautiful automotive moment:

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We saw some great stuff out there. This Buick’s interior was truly mint:

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And this 1970s Buick Riviera just mounted atop a 1990s Ford Panther platform is the sketchiest thing I’ve ever seen:

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But though we were there to have a good time, the junkyard tour had a more practical purpose. One of the many vehicles (my manual Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ) I had to transport to California was missing a shifter, and sadly I had installed the transmission in gear. There are solutions to that; I could press the clutch when I needed to move the car, or I could just jamb something into the shifter-hole to get into neutral. But the car also had no brakes, so being able to quickly go into and out of gear was a requirement to move the Jeep. As such, I figured I should find a shifter. Luckily, there was a 4.0-liter powered Jeep Wrangler YJ equipped with the AX-15 five-speed in the junkyard, and a few Autopian readers had brought their tools. So I got to work:

Removing the sheetmetal shifter cover was an ass-pain because this is a Michigan vehicle, as you can tell by the massive hole in the driver’s side floorboard. Actually, the more accurate phrasing is “as you can tell by the lack of a driver’s floorboard,” because damn look at that rust. No surprise to see that it’s right above the muffler; heat catalyzes oxidation.

My friend Jamie’s friend Devon had fortunately brought a sawzall, so we made quick work of that shifter cover, and I triumphantly flailed that shifter in the air during our group photo:

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Before you knew it, I had that shifter in my hand, and the crew celebrated with a selfie:

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I also snagged this great pic with devout reader Jack rocking some Autopian member-swag! (please become a member if you haven’t!)

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While I was at the junkyard, Jason was frantically cleaning the house and setting the place up for a shindig. We managed to decorate the little shack with car parts, which we labeled with sticky notes. Behold a strut, coil spring, lower control arms (one for a solid axle, one for a MacPherson strut), and damper:

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Here, behind the keg I spent far too much money on, you can see that I’ve labeled an alternator, water pump, fuel pump, ignition coil, crankshaft damper, and power steering pump:

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In addition to the keg, I also managed to dig up a few beers I’d left in my yard for about 3.5 years. I’m not sure anyone ended up drinking them:

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The party started off…as a bit of a shitshow, as I’d predicted. It had snowed a few days prior, and I’d underestimated the attendance, so folks were having to drive in parts of the yard that I’d torn up over the years during vehicle testing (you may recall the Kia Rio incident). The result was: folks were getting stuck:

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Luckily, nobody crashed into anyone, and nobody got too badly stuck. Here’s a little tour of the wonderful vehicles that the car-obsessed Autopian readers drove to the hastily-planned event:

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The party quickly became one for the books — stuff of legend. People who had been reading my articles since I got started in the industry were there, folks who’d helped me wrench on cars years ago showed up, former colleagues from Chrysler popped by, fellow journalists made their faces shown, and there were just so many old friends whom I hadn’t seen in years — it was incredible!

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Here’s a look at the inside of the house during the tail end of the party. What a great showing:

Folks at pizza and snacks, chugged beer and soda, and talked cars with people who truly understood them. Here’s reader Tyler Herden showing the room his custom-built Mitsubishi Montero Sport Gambler 500 rig:

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It quickly became clear to me how meaningful it was for people to spend time with others who share their passion. I’ve been able to do it as an auto engineer and journalist, but even then it’s not always easy. That little 1,000 square-foot house in Troy, MI, with lights on and music blaring, bustling with true car enthusiasts on that cold February night — it was a sanctuary. A truly special place where people could open up about what they truly love, and the conversations were incredible.

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At one point readers presented me with an awesome Ram 1500 tailgate that someone had custom-painted with a bomber plane and a Bald Eagle pilot. Apparently readers had removed it during the junkyard tour:

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Jason and I played car-trivia, and gave away lots of automotive paraphernalia I had amassed over the years. Let’s see if you can get this one:

Look at this happy winner! (By the way, that’s Dan in the corner in the background; he and I had met at various car shows throughout the years, and he’d helped me weld up certain speciality jobs that I couldn’t weld myself; he’s a prolific fabricator. I loved that he showed up):

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After hours of roaring conversations between fellow car fans — many in the industry — a few folks started to leave, so I gathered folks around the small fire that my friend Jamie had created in my backyard. It was time for me to thank everyone for an incredible decade following my car-dreams in the most automotive city on earth:

“I’m not from Detroit, but this is where automotive dreams come true. If you love cars, it’s right here. This is the motor city,” I began, going on to talk about how I was able to achieve my every automotive dream in Detroit, working for Jeep, hanging out with the people who have engineered and designed my favorite cars of all time. “The people who live in this area….It’s in your blood, and that is something that you cannot replicate. And yes, Jason will tell me that LA car culture is fantastic, but it’s never going to be motor city,” I say in the clip above while standing on a 31×10.50R15 all-terrain tire and looking out at a huge crowd of loyal readers.

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We took a group photo after Jason and I profusely thanked everyone for supporting us for years.

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After the speech, the exodus from the party began to accelerate, but those who stuck around turned it up. The music got louder, the behavior got wilder, and the beer keg got emptier. To entertain folks, I read aloud the death threat I’d received from an unhinged AMC fan; it was absolutely hilarious. Jason even did the worm:

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The little fire, which my friend Jamie had foolishly built atop some kind of flat platform sitting on a tire quickly turned into a roaring inferno. Why? Because Jamie had decided to take a shelf that I’d been planning to bring with me to California and just chuck it into the fire!

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“What the heck, Jamie!” I exclaimed. “That’s the ‘bring to California’ pile! The trash pile is over there!” I pointed. Jamie responded be walking over to the trash pile, grabbing all the furniture, and just chucking it into the flame:

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Just look at this blaze!

The fire grew even larger when the inevitable happened: The tire caught fire! Yes, we were having a tire-burning fire at the Tracy shack, listening to country music, talkin’ about trucks, drinkin’ beer.

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Shortly after noticing the tire fire, I found the brilliant architect of the blaze jamming out to “6 Liter GTR” by “The Chats”:

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As the night went on, and folks became more and more tired, things began to get weird. Jason and I sang Bill Withers’ “Just The Two Of Us”:

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An auto engineer began to vomit on my couch:

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And so went the magic night that I invited the entire internet to a party at my house. It was wild. There were flames. There was dancing. There were car parts. There was beer. There was a junkyard tour. There was merriment, there were new friendships — it was one of the most magical evenings of my entire life, and I will forever be grateful for everyone who partook, especially those from out of town.

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I’m not sure why, but I took the above picture of the convenience store refrigerator when I went to re-hydrate the passed-out engineer on my couch. The next morning, a few readers/friends even came back over just to help me pack, and to have one last meal with me:

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The logistics of my relocation are a story for another day. How does someone with a dozen cars just up and move all the way to California? The answer involves a lot of pain that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. Again, more on that later.

 

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Rome217
Rome217
3 months ago

David, we did you a favor burning those bookcases. There is no way they needed to cross the country with you.

Better question, did the floor plates survive after their stint in the tire fire? And what happened to the tailgate?

Space
Space
3 months ago

Thanks for writing the article and posting the videos, truly entertaining. Can’t wait for the cross country move article next October.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
3 months ago

Peak Autopian right there! So reminded me of some parties we had back in the early 90s with a bunch of engineers I worked with at Texaco in the engine testing lab. One time we cut a Ford Fiesta in half behind the drivers seat and drove the front half around the neighborhood until the cops showed up.

Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
3 months ago

Any news of the Jeep Kitties ?

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
3 months ago

David, in years past I would have rinsed off and tasted the yard beer. These days I’m wiser or just older. Probably just older. Please, please, please do a very much northeast meetup sometime. I can help coordinate if needed. Maine is a great place in the late summer or fall.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
3 months ago

Mercedes doesn’t look happy in that group picture. Maybe her Solo cup was empty?

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
3 months ago

Worse. I had mixed malort with beer and some other forms of booze and my stomach just wasn’t having it! 🙂

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