Living With A Classic : Part Five
Choosing Your Victim - The Hot Rod & The Antique
I'm just gonna say this : I don't know jack about antique cars and hot rods. I just don't. And I'm not going to write a whole detailed article about something I can barely even guess at. But being a biker for a good part of my adult life, I've been around rat rods and hot rods more than my fair share. I love them. I think they're works of art, and I would be remiss not to mention them in a series about classic car ownership.
Antique cars are sort of a mystery to me. Not only are they absolutely staggering to look at, but they're incredible to ponder. The machining, the metalwork, the lines. Some of these cars are absolute beacons of human innovation, even though their technology is seemingly ancient and primitive. It's amazing to consider that most of the modern car is still based on things that humans imagined and built over 100 years ago. That is a testament to brilliance, for sure.
There are huge numbers of antique cars still on the road, and finding one won't be hard for the enterprising collector. Now like I said, I can't offer much advice on these cars, as I know so very little about them. But I do know that the key to these cars is handy owners. By far, antique ownership is likely the most demanding of all types. One will often hunt for years for the right part, and in some cases, will have to actually make the part him or herself. It's overwhelming to consider, really. But many thrive on this challenge, and readily answer the calling of stewarding these old dogs back onto the road.
The most incredible part is that there are nearly three decades worth of cars that classify as antiques. You've got old Ford Model As, Bs, Ts. You've got Morgans and Morris from the UK. You've got Packards, DeSotos, Buicks. The list is seemingly endless. These cars aren't for the faint of heart, and I imagine that if you're considering buying one, you know that already. At leadt, I sure hope you do.
My wife and I have a good friend called Dave, who has built and rodded a 30's Model A. He teaches welding and bodywork at a local school, so he's well primed for making cars like this by himself, with his own hands. His Model A is a work of complete twisted genius. Stained glass windows built into the bodywork, antique pieces of advertising metal stitched into the console and the interior. Old beer kegs as the seat frames. And last but not least, a gurgling stroked 408, putting several hundred horses down to tarmac.
Hot rods and rat rods are exciting. I've never really cared for driving them, but they sure are eye candy for we car types. They're usually far too raw and clunky to drive, often plagued by handmade fixes and garage 'inventions', but damnit aren't they amazing to look at? And that basically is the point of rat rods and hot rods, to me. Of course hot rods are of the more traditional, drag racing heritage of the American motorhead. But rat rods and those that build them, are a different breed.
I have great admiration for those that choose to travel the road of the rod. These humans are artists in every way. They're craftsmen, and they live and breathe this work. I'm imagining that if you're here reading this, you are already well aware of the tests that lie ahead, and what is required of you when you take on a machine like this. Chances are, if you're wired this way, you've already cut plenty of metal in your life, so you don't need some sports car loving yuppie to tell you what's what. And more power to ya. More power to ya.
The Path Onward
At the end of the day, there is no shortage of resources for those that live hot rods and antiques. There are probably more websites and magazines dedicated to these monsters than any other type, and I imagine that almost every town in the country has at least one rusty old codger who has a garage, where people come to hang out and screw around with their old lumps. There's even the oft-forgotten 'garage club', where a bunch of people pay for the use of a garage, and work on each other's projects. At least in the States, there's a long and healthy tradition of camaraderie around hot rodding, and it looks to be thriving still. Rest assured that if you find yourself on this path, you are far from alone, traveler.