Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The manila receipt folder

Back when I first got my 1969 Camaro, I bought a manila folder. In that folder I kept every receipt for every purchase I made for that car. If it was something I paid by cash or check, I scribbled the sum on a piece of paper and put it in the folder. I've kept this folder all these years, since getting the car back in 1996. Recently, while visiting my parents, finding the last of my stuff up on the shelf in my closet, I came across this folder and put it among the stuff I'd take home with me. That has been several weeks now, and the folder had sat atop my chest of drawers ever since.

As I began to thumb throught the folder, I realized something, what's the point? So here I sit, shredding about a 2 inch tall pile of receipts. Perhaps one of the least appealing parts of being an auto enthusiast is the amount of money that you put into your hobby. I once added up the total of all these receipts, though it has been some years, and I can't even guess how far along the car was, or whether it was on the road at the time. I do recall that the total was in the mid $20,000 range, and I knew I still had money to spend. Today, that same car sits in the garage, nothing more than a shell with a 12 point cage in it, and several thousand dollars away from being road worthy again. This time around, I'm not keeping track, I'm simply gonna spend what needs to be spent, and never have the agony of looking back at how much it cost. This shredder is about to get one helluva workout.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

2007 Detroit Autorama

The latest paint trend seems to be airbrushed flames. Kind of makes the old nostalgic flame jobs look cartoonish doesn't it? I talked with one such artist last year and was shocked to learn that most jobs like this are way north of $10,000, that's if your car already has paint! Still, the effect is just badass isn't it?

I spent two days at the show this year, a show that beats every previous one hands down in my opinion. It took me 4 hours to walk through the event the first day, and almost the same during my second visit on Saturday. Had I not skipped the whole tuner section on day two, I would have been right on par. I've always enjoyed this show, more so than the North American Auto Show, if for no other reason, the originality of the cars. Anymore, the cars featured are mostly of the high dollar variety. The majority of these rides are probably in the north of $50,000 area, with many of the rides up for best of show in the $100,000+ level, with the winner probably in the several hundred thousand mark. Yet what perhaps impresses me most is the ever changing culture amonst car enthusiasts. How new, different, and sometimes even anti-cultures will spinoff and form.

The little details are becoming mainstream, details that most people may not pick up on. This Camaro had every seam welded up and smoothed. The side markers were flush LED's, as were the taillights. The headlights are modern equipment, and the emblems and door handles were also shaved. I did some of these features to my Camaro nearly 10 years ago, now its becoming standard.

One such category would be the Rat Rods tucked away in the basement of Cobo. These crude, often slap together looking rides in a way represent the very beginnings of hotrodding. When people took a car, cut it up, modified it, put engines pulled from the junkyard under the hood, and basically kept things simple. There weren't the power windows, power locks, tweed or leather interiors, or any of the nother NICE-sities that the high dollar street rods have as standard equipment today. These throw back rides look for the more obscure powertrains to install, the dare to be different that often over powers the sensible line of thought. This trend was formed out of protest, protest against the high dollar streetrods that have long since dominated the scene. Cars that are often well out of reach to many. So instead, taking a low buck approach, this new culture, or anti-culture as I like to call it, was formed. A group that is against the mainstream approach, all while perhaps helping to reborn an era where the very culture of hotrodding was born.

A funny car 68 Camaro. Just plain cool. Now, who will be the first person driving one on the street though? lol

This isn't the first time such a change or revolution has taken place amongst hobbiest. In fact, I'd dare to say that it's been going on for nearly 100 years. Anybody who wrenches on their cars wants them to stand out in a crowd. When a trend or fad catches on, there will always be those who break away and head in another direction, simply because once it becomes labeled as "cool," it is no longer cool to them.

While not a big fan of their color choice, this was one nice shoebox other than that!

Another example would be how prostreet was so popular back during the 80's, then kind of fizzled out. Back then, the cars were often more show than go. It was all about the over the top look, though often were nothing more than poseurs, or worse yet, trailer queens that were hauled from show to show. Today, prostreet is alive and well, just in a new and improved reincarnation. The new crowd drive their cars, race them, and even sometimes choose the path of a relatively narrow (by racing standards) 10.5 inch tire to push their cars to insane speeds through the 1/4 mile traps. Now the bragging rights seems to be among those willing to push things a little further. Engines are bigger and badder, 500+ cubic inch big blocks are not unusual, in fact, it has almost become standard. As have even bigger engines, sometimes pushing the 600+ cubic inch size. Power levels are there to match as well, with anything south of 500 hp looked at these days as often insufficient by the most. If you can't measure up on motor alone, then nitrous kits to boost you an extra 300+ hp are not unusual like they were some years back.

One mighty Mopar!

I'm sure that just as with this craze, another will pop-up, or perhaps it already has. The big cubic inch big blocks already being challenged by big cubic inch small blocks. Fuel injection seems to be more popular than ever, as are turbo and supercharging and nitrous injection, now often multiple stage. Every trend in car culture reaches a peak, where upon those who were the early pioneers of the trend begin to search for something new. Just as the high dollar car builders are beginning to hire professionals to build their own Rat Rads, and spending tons of money in doing so, the original Rat Rod crowd will likely spin off once again, finding something else that is cool, though perhaps only cool to a few pioneers.

Sweet little 392 Hemi powered Ford Roadster. Sweet little blonde too.

What mine would look like...put together.

Nice lil supercharged 34 Coupe

Rat Rod style

One awesome Dodge wagon! This would be the only family truckster I'd own and drive with pride.

I took nearly 300 pictures at the event. While I've posted some here, the majority can be found here:

2007 Detroit Autorama pictures