I’ve been away from the car for a few days as Christmas preparation has sucked up all of my free time to build. I have had time to reflect on my progress and learnings so far. The learnings vary from the simple (testing continuity with a multimeter, and how you don’t need the circuit to be powered – thanks Jason) to the fiddly (clearing out a thread full of swarf with a tap so I could finish installing the engine on it’s mounts, doing up the top bolt on the front dampers, getting those damn steering bushes in place with the steering column also in place). Actually, more fiddly than anything else. My patience has been tested, frustration levels often high, but always with the right outcome and a feeling of achivement. My progress is equally rewarding; I’ve installed and engine and gearbox into a car and built the front suspension including the lights, and tested that they work (again, thanks Jason!), overcoming and solving problems on the way.
It strikes me that building the car is an exercise in determination and resilience. There’s always problems to solve and the simplest jobs can make hours of effort disappear. When time is at a premium, that’s hard to take. Setbacks can seem insurmountable. Frustration is never far away. It’s much like playing a game of Dark Souls 3.
Dark Souls 3 is a masterpiece of a videogame. It’s rare, in that it doesn’t hand-hold the player, but treats him, or her as an equal. The manual is next to useless. The rules of combat are not explained. The objective of each level has to be discovered through play. The bosses at first appear impossible to defeat. Without determination and resilience, players give up. But, for those who refuse to be beaten, progress can be made. Over time weaknesses appear, ones that can be exploited. Step by step, the battles last longer, the boss more weak before winning. Eventually, sweet victory; the player finally gets the better of the boss and, after many, many attempts, it falls. Then to the the next area to explore and new challenges to learn about and engage.
Building the Caterham has many parallels to this. The poor manual, the need for resilience and determination, the unclear path to the end product. And, most of all, the highs of a completed component, or major milestone passed. In the world of videogames, there is nothing like it outside of Dark Souls 3 (except perhaps it’s close cousin, Bloodborne), and I haven’t come across anything else as frustrating and rewarding as the build of my Caterham in the real world. Once it is completed, it will truly be mine, on a different level to any other car or bike I’ve owned, much as my relationship with Dark Soul is unlike any other videogame I have played.
It’s a challenge, but I am determined. Dark Souls 3 determined.