This week on the HAMB (Hokey Assed Message Board), a debate raged on for almost 10 pages about the latest issue, specifically, the cover shot of a Rat Rod Model “A” sedan, and a new Lambo, the subjects of a “comparison” article within. The overwhelming response to the article, which almost NONE of the participants of the debate had bothered to read, was that HOT ROD magazine is not relevant to the current Hot Rod scene (more specifically, the “Traditional” Hot Rod genre, and that, even at about $.60 per issue, HOT ROD is a waste of money.
The first, and most obvious (to me anyway) reason is that if one hasn’t read “HOT ROD” (or probably read ANY magazine) for years, how can one form an opinion on that, and whether it is relevant? To say, ”I know ’Hot ROD’ sucks. I don’t read it but I know it doesn’t have anything to do with what I like or do”, seems like the ultimate oxymoron. If any of the responders had read the story in the current September issue, they’d have known the comparison was not between the cars themselves, but the experience of driving, and being seen in, these wildly diverse, over-the-top “Look at ME!” ends of the automotive spectrum.
It’s not about the cars themselves, nor comparing their perfomance or driving characteristics, but the individual experience of driving, and of being seen in both of them. The experience was pretty summed by Frieburger; “In the end, the hot rod simply reaches more people, and as one onlooker quipped, “You can by the Lambo. You have to build the hot rod”.
How true. My own experience mirrors this exactly, although I’ve never owned a Lamborghini. I HAVE owned several Corvettes, and the fun of dreaming about having one, tracking one down and buying it, far outstripped the “fun” of driving one. People generally think you’re a prick or a poser when you’re driving one, and the only people who wave and give thumbs up are other pricks (don’t get offended if you have a ‘Vette, I instantly turn into a prick when I get in one) driving Corvettes. They’re great cars, especially now, for the money, but they’re not very friendly cars.
To quote Frieburger again, “…I don’t like the way I feel driving it.”
Exactly. That sums up my feeling about cars, and my own ’36 ‘Special” roadster. It’s a little more refined visually, and a lot less “Rat-Rod” than the Model A sedan in the article, but it still gives you that “…worked over after a night in the county lock-up” feeling after a long drive. It’s braking is dismal, the steering is heavy and slow, it’s brutishly over-powered and yet not particularly fast, has very limited suspension travel, and gets abysmal fuel economy. Frankly, it’s an absolutely AWFUL car, as cars go. It’s rolling road hazard.
That said, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on four wheels. People love it who don’t care anything about cars. They want to know what it is, how fast it goes, did I build it myself, they like the colors, the upholstery (or lack of it), and marvel that it can actually be driven. In fact the only negative comment I’ve ever had on it was from a self-proclaimed “expert” who assured me that, seeing the car parked in rather tall grass, that it couldn’t be possibly be driven, or be NSRA “legal” because of the scrub line. Never mind that I told him I had indeed had a flat on the left front, and the grill shell, the frame, and most alarmingly (to him) the pitman arm did NOT drag on the highway and cause my demise. He was undaunted, as these guys usually are, by facts, and was still loudly pointing out the perceived faults of the car as we walked away.
That’s precisely the kind of guy who contributed to over 8 pages and several hundred posts on the HAMB, on how badly “HOT ROD” sucks. The kind of guy who gets ALL of his information from a free internet source because it’s easy and validates his own myopic viewpoint. Never mind listening to the guy who built it, never mind actually reading a publication before you form and opinion, it sucks because I say it sucks, and that’s it.
So, I’ll keep reading “HOT ROD”, not just because they had the class and good taste to feature my own car, but because every month I learn something. I get see features that inspire me to do better, to move upwards and create something that might even be comfortable and fun to drive like the AMBR “Indy Speedster V8″ roadster. To read thoughtful, insightful articles on the likes of Carroll Shelby, and to learn that EJ Potter, “The Michigan Madman” has passed on.
I’ll also continue to be a fan of sites like the HAMB, where, after I sift through the chaff about early 50′s 4-doors painted with Rust-O-Leum flat black and a brush, I also learn something everyday, see inspirational cars, and read about interesting and influential hot rodders. Life, I think, is better painted from a broad palette, not just one color or one flavor, by sampling a variety of viewpoints and opinions, not just one. Doesn’t make me a better person, but a better informed and more interesting one.
Now, back to the garage to finish the Diamond T before I start accumulating parts to build my version of that stunning Indy Speedster V8…