Friday, March 24, 2017

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, maybe it never was.

I'm not picking on Hot Rod magazine specifically, current trends are what they cover.

I just received  my latest copy of Hot Rod magazine. It only took me a few minutes to leaf through the issue. "No more boring cars!" was boldly proclaimed on the cover several years ago. For awhile this seemed to be true. I bought a multi year subscription. Then the cars became the same old "resto-mod" muscle cars, Do I really care what the Ring Brothers are doing? Does this magazine even have any relevance to my interests anymore?

Or do I need to read any more articles on someone's favorite motor build ups? No, don't really care. This months issue has a '55 Chevy on the cover, "Is the world's baddest '55?", I don't care! Yes it is trick. Lots of money spent, and I'm sure that it's fast. But, come on, "55 Chevies are old news, at least in my eyes.

On the last page Freiburger writes a column that states that there are a lot of things going on right now in the Hot Rodding community that you won't see in any of the current magazines. Why? because the cars that are involved and the people doing the work don't exist in the magazine's demographic profile. They are younger folks that are messing around with cars that are not iconic to the 60's generation concept of what qualifies as a cool car. They are doing V8 transplants into Volvos and BMWs.

I think that today's young car loving folks are caught in a tight squeeze, caused by the tough economy and the desire to break away from their Father's ideas from the past.  There are lots of real cool cars available on the market, but the cooler they are, the more expensive they are. Thirty or forty thousand dollars is a lot of money for anyone. Heck, I don't think I could afford to buy a car like that. Buying a beat up version of a Sixties Icon really isn't a viable alternative. I found out that first hand just last year.  Besides who wants to pay an inflated price for some old guy's "American Graffiti" fantasies.

Yeah, I am an old guy. But I still missed the post war Golden Age of hot rodding by almost twenty years. I grew up in the 60s' and graduated from high school in the early 70's. I never, ever, saw a real pre war hot rod on the street during those years. I did witness the end of the Muscle car era. Saw  lots of older muscle cars and Lowriders. Since I grew up in East Oakland, not too far from the Hell's Angels' clubhouse I saw quite a few chopped Harley's back in the Sixties.

In many ways the whole Hot Rod thing is for many,  just nostalgia. Guys want to have the car that they longed for in their youth. When I was in high school I wanted two vehicles: a Big Twin Harley Davidson, and a 1956 or 1960 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Never got those at the time but a few years later I did own reasonable facsimiles of these vehicles. My Japanese Superbikes and my '64 Cadillac convertible.

Have you ever seen the movie "Pee Wee's Big Adventure"? At the end, we see Pee Wee and his girl friend at a drive in watching a Hollywood movie that was made about his adventure. The movie stars James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild as the main characters. Pee Wee's girlfriend notices that he isn't paying much attention to the movie. When she mentions it, he replies "I don't have to watch it, I lived it!"

Looking back on my Motor Head Resume I've had a pretty good run. It was never comparable to the life of AK Miller, Ray Brock, or Tom McMullen. Actually it was kind of ordinary and dull, especially in comparison to those who have been immortalized on the pages of magazines. But my life has one big advantage: I lived it! 

This is the May 2004 issue of Car Craft magazine. It is one of my favorites, ever. The cover article details how there are scores of very affordable, very capable, modern, "late model"  performance cars available for peanuts. These are cars that offered pretty high levels of performance when new, and even today can be modified to almost new car levels of performance. All for much less money than the purchase price for a old Muscle car project/builder.

This is the opportunity that's available to Today's bucks down hobbyist. Camaros, Mustangs, even Corvettes! Nissan Z cars, Toyota Supras, take your pick. Miatas. Big V8 powered ex police cars and trucks. Whatever you choose, the aftermarket is brimming with repair parts and high performance equipment. There's no need to stand on the sidelines and watch others have all the fun. The time is now. This is the Golden Age of performance. Be the hero of your own story and live it!

What car would you choose?

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