Sunday, August 11, 2013

What Makes a Car Show Interesting?

I've had the pleasure of attending two excellent car shows in the last 3 weeks and I've come to the conclusion that if you don't talk to the owners you are missing out on a large part of the equation that makes car shows fun.  The stories behind some of these cars bring them to life, and without the stories I just get bored as I see another (insert camaro/mustange/chevelle/etc.)

I wanted to share some of these stories with you because I think they're awesome and they're what I am wishing were in more car magazines.  I get so bored reading about the tech info on the restoration.  I don't care what duration cam you used, I want to know if the grinder went through your leg causing 8 stiches!

I wasn't taking notes when I talked to these guys, and a week or two have passed so forgive me if you know the details on any of these and I'm not spot on.

The owner of the below Chevelle has put 100 miles on the car since finishing his 7 year restoration.  For 7 years this car was a garage ornament.  I applaud his patience.  Can you imagine his joy the first time he got to drive it?  He hasn't even really set the rings yet.  I bet he gets a big ol' smile the first time he gets to put his foot to the floor.  I'm fighting to restore my MGA ( and I just don't have that sort of patience.  And the end result will probably show that his car is much nicer that mine.  Nice work!

This fastback mustang was driven to the show by the parents of the owner (since new).  I've seen them several times and talked with them and they always mention that their son is "busy today". They are so proud of the car though.  You can see it's a reflection of their pride in their son, and even if he's too busy to be with them today, at least they get his car which reminds them of him.

The below mustang was brought to the show by two ladies in memory of their late husbands who built this car and another.  I didn't actually talk to them about it because the topic was a little... (sensitive?) for my comfort but I thought it was touching.  I also thought it was funny that they chose to place roosters in the seats; I wonder if they were, in a good natured way, representing their husbands in a humorous manner.

This MR2 is my buddy Andrew's car.  Andrew's fit an aftermarket turbo with 18 lbs of boost into this car.  He let me drive it once, and when the turbo kicks in you need to make sure you have the wheels pointed the right direction.  I'd never experienced turbo pull like that before and I now understand why all the hot rodders are ditching their superchargers for twin turbos.  What a rocket!

The owner of this 240z with a giant Ford motor talked cars with me for a long time.  Even though I had one of the ugliest cars at the show, he came over and hung out with me talking about British cars he's owned.  I think he got bored with British power. He obviously decided to go the Carol Shelby/Sydney Allard direction and jam an american motor into a foreign car that can turn corners.  He says it's well sorted and sticks to the ground on the autocross track. That's gotta be fun!

This shopping cart custom is a great example of a story that needs to be told.  The owner wasn't by the car so I couldn't ask... why?  But I wanted to know.  I'm guessing epic late night hill runs, possibly ending with road rash.  Ah, youth.  I sometimes miss my college late nights.

The below truck is just awesome.  A couple of brothers that go to the local church built this and a bunch of other contraptions.  I love it.  It reminds me of the stories my dad tells me about the early 80s and the ridiculous car projects they built because parts were cheap and plentiful.  It's great to see young guys that are still having fun with cars, even if they're the last of a dying breed.  I hope they're not.  I think auto's are way better than PCs or Xbox.  If nothing else, at least to enjoy them you have to be outside in the real world.  Make sure you note the vice grips and tie straps holding parts of this truck together.

Both events were hosted by local churches and both were exceptional.  I thought it was funny when a church service ended one of the shows in front of the MGA.  It was the first church service the MGA has attended!

I applaud the churches for putting such effort into reaching out to the gearhead community.  Free food, bands, 50's DJ's, awards, silent auctions; these churches went all out.  My heart hopes that the shows brought someone closer to knowing the love of Christ; I can't imagine going through life without knowing the Savior.  And funny as it sounds, when you have the knuckle bashing curse inducing hobby of car restoring, it sure is a nice change to take a shower and go be around some great people at a good church.  I pity the guys that don't get to do that, they're missing out.  There's only so much knuckle bashing someone can take before they get that sour puss car owner look. Car guy?  Live in the Portland area?  Maybe try one of these churches, you might enjoy it!

The below shot of me in the 'vette is cheesy, but I appreciated that the sign in the front of his car said something to the effect of, "Climb in, take pictures!" instead of "DON'T TOUCH!!".  I voted best of show for this car simply because of the sign.  Funny thing was, the corvette steering wheel hit my thighs and I'm not a big guy.  I prefer the MGA's layout!

If you want the younger generation to be interested in these cars, let them sit in them.  Let them smell the leather.  Let them feel the wheel and the gear shift.  Let them drive them.  If you just ask them to look at them at car shows, of course they'll be bored.  They don't know that the car can give them adrenaline and a sense of freedom when they step on the gas.  You do, that's why you paid so much money to have it.  You're frame of reference is different and you need to share your positive experiences with the younger generation or they're going to think old cars simply mean sitting around fields trying to win trophys (BORING!).

Here's another one where I wanted a story.  I've never seen a truck Corvair, but alas, the owner was not camped out with the truck.  How cool is this pickup though?!

When I engaged the owner of the below Chevy stationwagon, he hold me that this car won custom car of the year in the late 90's.  I would have never known if he hadn't told me.  We also started talking about the price of chroming.  It's disgusting!  The front bumper, to get it perfect, cost him $3k back then.  He said now, probably $6k.  Someone needs to invent a cheaper chroming process!  And I mean chrome, not the plastic paint the Malaysians put on so many of my MGA parts.

This Chevelle was interesting because the story was posted right at the front of the car.  Because hot rods were (mostly) a young man's thing in the 60's, and there was a war going on, it's not a story I haven't heard before but it is well worth the read and reminder.  Take a minute and read the plaque in the picture below the car.

The below Porsche sure was pretty and I thought it was excellent that it still had it's tool kit. When I was talking to the owner about it, he told me it was his father's car.  That's got to be pretty fun, having your dad's old car.  My dad had a Corvette red 66 Chevelle.  If I was driving it now, I'd have a car that looked an awful lot like the Chevelle above.  I wouldn't complain!

One of my favorite guys there was the below old guy, who brought an ancient truck and tractor combo (it's a video so you can click on it to play it).  It wasn't because he brought them, but because he fired the John Deere up for everyone that I really appreciated his setup.  Well, that and the fact that he's at an age where many people have retired to the home and he's still building projects.  I hope I can be more like this if I make it to that age.

The below Porsche was another one owner car.  On the rear view mirror he had his name printed onto a piece of label maker tape.  When I asked him why he stared at me for a couple seconds and then said, "Well,... I can't remember".  That's a long relationship with a car!

Well, those are just some of the stories that I can remember and have pictures for.  There were others I heard and can't remember now, or ones that I wish I knew but couldn't find an owner.  But the moral of this story is, when you're at the car show, talk to the owners.  Find out why they built the car.  Ask what they love about it.  You may find that the car show becomes much more interesting than when you were only concerned about how nice the paint looks and how big the motor is.

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