I often get asked to commit my automotive karma to a specific genre: “Hotrod or Ratrod?” “Restoration or Survivor?” “Concours or Custom?” and so on. Sometimes I feel like I am being scouted for a cult! Years ago I probably could have delivered a definitive answer, but now, I just can’t—and I honestly just don’t see any reason to.
I started off a Mustang guy through and through. At 17 I scraped together all the cash I had and plunked it down on a 1966 Mustang Coupe. Back in those days, I could spend all day walking around a Mustang show thoroughly checking out each car and for years I made it to every Mustang show I could get to in the Southeast. In the era of the late 70’s and early 80’s modified cars were not really accepted, so all we had to look at were rows and rows of original restorations. As time progressed, I found that I needed more than a lot full of period correct muscle cars to light my fire.
I guess you could say that as I aged, my taste changed (although my wife would probably tell you that I have developed a mild case of A.D.D). While I have tremendous appreciation for an all original classic or survivor cars, spending hours upon hours looking at several copies of a few versions leaves a little to be desired for my current taste. The variety of modified and restomoded cars offered at today’s shows are much more capable of keeping my attention and interest. If you ask me, the more cars and styles—the better. I want fresh ideas, and to see how creative others can be with their hot rod.
Recently, I’ve been to several High School car shows where a diverse crowd of car owners show up. One side of the parking lot is full of street rods, muscle cars, and customs, while the other side is filled with slammed pickup trucks and brightly colored tuners—stereos ablaze! Next thing you know, the promoters are trying to keep the peace between the thumping stereos and 50’s Bee Bop. Does it get more exciting than that??
Some of you reading are probably ho-humming about what I just said, but I think sequestered groups of automotive enthusiast that don’t take the opportunity to expose themselves to trends and groups outside of their own are missing out on the best way to enrich their passion—which, by the way, is terrible for the industry. Lots of classic car clubs reach out in an attempt to recruit younger members in the hopes of keeping the future of the passion and the industry alive, but fall short because they just aren’t open to what the youngins have to say and haven’t taken an interest in what it takes to ignite their passions. I am involved with several clubs, and I have to tell ya that they have a really hard time recruiting members under the age of 50. If we don’t take the time to open our eyes, minds, and arms, the cars we grew up with and love, will be dead and buried right along with us.
That being said, let me leave you with this challenge. The next show, cruise night, or whatever event you happen upon, do a quick scan and walk directly to the least interesting vehicle there and give it a close inspection. Talk to the owner, listen to their story, and try to understand their passion. Yes, you’ll hear some silly stuff and probably waste some time. Later, if you’re near your vehicle when they walk by I’ll bet they return the interest. At the end of the day you’ll have a little different perspective, have possibly found a new passion, or better yet stirred up a passion in someone else.