Road Trip! Autorama 2014!

Posted: March 11, 2014 in Hot Rod, travel
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Ready.  Set.  Go.

Ready. Set. Go.

 

Since November, I’ve been worried about what the weather, and roads, would be March 6th, after I made the decision to show the Diamond T and the Tini-Home at Autorama.  Blizzards, weeks of sub-zero temps, icy roads, high winds, slush, even keeping the driveway plowed so we could get the trailer and get out were challenges that we faced right up until last Thursday.   It was bitterly cold  at 7 degrees when we got the trailer hitched up and pulled out at 10:30 in the morning, but sunny and clear, and the roads were clear and dry.

The trip over was a breeze, with Kim following in her car (so we’d have wheels),  and we rolled up to the basement entrance on the riverfront at around one in the afternoon.  We had to wait only a few minutes on the street until there was room to pull in, and our little parade rolled into the basement of Cobo for set up.

I had no idea where the show officials had placed us, considering our slightly unusual set up, and was a bit concerned about where we’d be, and how we’d be able to stage the rig.  Turned out, we had the back corner to ourselves, right across from Gene Winfield’s display, which, between the two of us, had to be the busiest spot in the show all weekend.   The downside, if there was one, was that it was directly in front of the restrooms, but the upside was that EVERYBODY walked by, even if they hadn’t intended to come by and look at the truck and trailer.

Ready.   Set.  Show.

Ready. Set. Show.

 

Our rig seemed to be a popular attraction, as we had a line of people at least ten deep all weekend long.  I had to wait in line to get in and get our lunches ready, and Kim kept busy all weekend answering (the same) questions from spectators.  We saw lots of our Tin Can Tourist friends, lots of our hot rod friends, and made lots of new ones.  The trailer is a huge draw, and seems to be an attainable, achievable goal for folks of all walks of life, especially in contrast to the seven-figure show cars upstairs,  the period hot-rods and customs downstairs, and un-driveable art-cars that I tried to ignore.  People are drawn to it, many people related happy childhood memories of family camping in one “…just like this one, except it was a Shasta, and a ’65, and blue…”.

Typical line of people to see in the trailer.

Typical line of people to see in the trailer.

 

Kim noted that people walked right past the truck to see the trailer, which would have made me feel bad, if they both didn’t belong to us.

There are lots of different things to do at Autorama besides people watch and look at cars.  I took the opportunity to get my hair cut by Jason from “Berkley Chop Shop”, and got my rockabilly on a little.  It was fun, and I thought it turned out good.  I tried to keep it “high and proud” all weekend, and did pretty well, although I’m not dedicated (or vain) enough to spend a lot of time combing a Pompadour.

 

You got your hair did!

I get nervous with clippers.

 

You got your hair did!

You got your hair did!

 

Being right across from Winfield’s boys cutting the lid off a ’61 Ford Starliner was fun, although it meant frequently cleaning the paint dust, grinding wheel dust, metal, and acetylene soot off the truck all weekend.  It was just like being at home, with the smell of burning metal, welding, smoke scorched under coating.  The noise made a little hard to talk on Saturday, but we managed.  Watching the 85 or 86-year-old Winfield bouncing around, directing work, showing the crew what needed to be cut, from where, and how much, reminded me of my own father, who at 89, acts just the same.  It was indeed almost like being at home.

The legendary Gene Winfield, still playing with cars.

The legendary Gene Winfield, still playing with cars.

 

If you want it done right, do it yourself.

If you want it done right, do it yourself.

 

To create, first you have to destroy.

To create, first you have to destroy.

 

After the grinding, cutting, hammering and mayhem across the aisle, answering (over and over and over again) the same questions from people about the truck and trailer, it was fun to get around and do some gawking of my own.  I find that I’m increasingly disinterested in the glamourous, over-wrought Ridler contenders upstairs and drawn to the simple, traditional cars I remember seeing in the magazines of my youth.  I still like to look at a car and think, “I could, and should, build that.”, and came home with lots of ideas for the next build.  Of course, I still have to finish the four projects I have going right now, but a guy can dream, can’t he?

Following are some photos of things that I liked.  See if you can guess what car is brewing in my head now…

IMG_1291

 

Small.  Light.  Simple.

Small. Light. Simple.

 

A REAL Olds J2 in our friends Chris and Jan's '29 roadster.

A REAL Olds J2 in our friends Chris and Jan’s ’29 roadster.

 

The quintessential chopped Model A sedan.  Perfect.

The quintessential chopped Model A sedan. Perfect.

 

Normally, I don't care for cars so low the rear tires are taller than the belt line, but this is an exception.  Ricky Bobby's chopped sedan.

Normally, I don’t care for cars so low the rear tires are taller than the belt line, but this is an exception. Ricky Bobby’s chopped sedan.

 

Tone on tone paint.  Subtle, classy, and perfect on this '62 Chev.

Tone on tone paint. Subtle, classy, and perfect on this ’62 Chev.

 

Smooth Chev. Fleetline.  Understated, simple, and clean.

Smooth Chev. Fleetline. Understated, simple, and clean.

 

My good friend Crafty B putting the wheel spats on his outstanding "Crafty B '32"

My good friend Crafty B putting the wheel spats on his outstanding “Crafty B ’32”

 

Showtime!

Showtime!

 

Old trucks.  I like them too...

Old trucks. I like them too…

 

Old Cadillacs.  Love 'em.

Old Cadillacs. Love ’em.

 

OK, I'm embarrassed to admit I like this too.

OK, I’m embarrassed to admit I like this too.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Ridler winner.  And answer to the question, "How do you make a '64 Riviera ugly?"

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Ridler winner. And answer to the question, “How do you make a ’64 Riviera ugly?”

 

Well, that’s all for this years Autorama for me.  It’s too much at both ends of the automobile spectrum, but it’s fun, and it IS important.  There’s something for everyone, and if I don’t personally care for this years winners, (or ANY of the Great 8 for that matter), lots of people did, and the work is inspiring.  Even if the result doesn’t appeal to me.

I’ve also come to grips with the inclusion of the “art-car” invasion downstairs.  I understand the aesthetic, even if I don’t like it, and while it irritates me that some of the uneducated public think that these things represent hot rodding, I hope enough people look at them, see whats wrong, and then turn and look at REAL car and grasp the difference.  I also understand that both styles draw people to cars in general, keep people interested in car culture, and hopefully will inspire them to build their own car.  It’s all OK.

I’ve already decided that my goal for the ’59 T’bird is to have it done and debut at Cobo next year.   I think I’d like to have it downstairs, and hopefully have it stand out, an example of what someone can do on their own, with the help and inspiration of their friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. f23bone says:

    Can we use this in the spring edition of Tin Can Tales?

    Very cool, McCool’s!

  2. Keith Vander Pol says:

    Glad the trip went without a hitch and that you landed a favorable display spot. Good to see lots of people enjoying your handiwork. Subtle and tasteful gets my vote also.

  3. flynbrian48 says:

    Thanks Keith, we had a blast!

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