Car Photo of the Day: Work Spaces.

All cars have two workspaces really. The most obvious one is the space between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel. Most time is spent here, and virtually all effort is made to refine this workspace.

There is another one however, which is illustrated here. Anyone who maintains their own vehicles (like I do) spends some time in this other workspace. It is rare that much forethought is put into the ergonomics of this space. So many other things are further up the list of priority in the design of a car, such as the exterior appearance, crumple zones, ease of manufacturing, and now even pedestrian safety. As such these work spaces are often miserable. The car pictured above was designed as an endurance racer, so it’s maintenance workspaces are designed to be accessible, allowing for repairs to happen in minimal time with maximum accessibility to critical components. I’ve spent the better part of the last two days reaching for cap-head bolts using a mirror whilst laying atop an engine bay. Work like this almost requires three or four arms (one to hold the light, another to hold the mirror, and two more for the tools!) all in a space where the tool barely fits, much less the hands!

Since I trend to keep and drive my cars for well over 150,000 miles I’ve chosen cars where maintenance workspaces are at least minimally interfering. In the mid-80s when car shopping I looked at Hondas & Toyotas, but didn’t buy either after looking under their hoods. Both had engine bays so crammed that only spider monkeys dipped in grease could have a hope in hell of reaching some of the critical components. On my current car 90% of the stuff requiring attention is very easy to get to… right now I’m just dealing with the 10% of the stuff that is not. In hindsight replacing the Jaguar’s starter was easy.

Thankfully I’m not pressed for time, so I can take breaks and let my body recover from the contortions required.