Signs of Spring

Despite the soggy grey snowdrifts and chilling winds, I know that spring is finally here.
According to the calendar, it officially arrived March 20, and yet, I know for a fact that it's been here for a long while.

I didn't glean that little secret from the Farmer's Almanac. The groundhogs haven't cast aside their shadows to graze the hillsides, and although a few flocks of geese have flown overhead in V-formation recently, it wasn't quite time to pack snow shovels and mitts away yet.

But, on the way to Toronto a few weeks ago, I spotted a '65 Mustang, then a '59 "Square" Thunderbird an hour later. And, as if to prove these weren't merely fair-weather flukes straying from their migratory path, I was startled to see a gleaming, red Ferrari F360 cruising the highway. With its exotic plumage, it stood out from the dusty commuter cars like a quetzal among the sparrows.

And those cars, my friends, are as welcome a sight in late March as robins hopping on the front lawn. It's not much of a stretch to think that spring is here when I notice buds appearing on the trees and tulips are pushing up through the earth.

Beautiful cars emerging from their safe winter hibernation add life and colour to a landscape that's been grey and bleak far too long.

And, like the first tender shoots of grass, they're a sure sign that winter's worst has passed and it's time to start thinking of warm days to come.

Garage doors are rolled up, car covers thrown back and big V8s are turned over, sputtering, then roaring to life, lopey cams barking a visceral punch to the solar plexus. That distant thumping drone that grows steadily deeper and louder, anticipation building ‘til whatever it is finally 'rounds the bend or crests the hill - that's a thrill that never grows old for car buffs.

Soon, sightings of 'Cudas and Mustangs, low-slung Italians and tiny British coupes become more commonplace as the sun's rays grow stronger.

For those of us not blessed with owning a beautiful exotic, muscle or vintage auto, it's a time of wistful longing and happy anticipation of the show and track season ahead. It's also a time for digging out Canadian Tire money from behind the seats, exchanging black winter steelies for summer treads, stocking up the detail kits and breaking out the ratchets for spring tuneups.

My own snorting V8 has had its winter slumber interrupted at regular intervals just to ensure that it's still living,- but there are plugs to be changed and a transfusion of Mobil 1 to be scheduled. My wee Mazda track car is sorely in need of a day of detail therapy.

It's an industrious time for auto lovers of all breeds.

There's much to be done in anticipation of cruise nights, car shows and motorsports days - the arrival of which are signs of ... summer!.

2010 Porsche 911 Turbo

Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.TV