Opinion: A Major Problem in Classic Car Culture
"I can't believe they ruined that Ford by putting a Chevy engine in it!"
"Look at those stupid 20-inch rims on that '55 Chevy!"
I can not tell you how many times I've heard the above two statements (or worse) while at car shows the last few years. The phrases are usually uttered by someone, that I'm fairly certain drove to the event, in a '14 Toyota. You know, "Because they have been unable to locate the correct OEM lugnuts for a four door '78 Ford Granada they've been working on for the last 10 years."
Snobbery has always existed in the world and cars are no different. I'm not going to complain about the monocle wearing Concours d'Elegance types here. Everything bad that can be said about them already has been (and it's all true). Instead, I'm going to talk about an entirely new crop of trolls that seem to be breeding in the Classic car scene. The "Purists".
These nitwits seem to be under the impression that literally every car, ever made, needs to be preserved in original form as some sort of testament to cost limited engineering and questionable design. While I will agree that a '35 Duesenberg SJ needs to remain as close to original as possible, I will never agree that something so mass produced as a Model A Ford or a Volkswagen bug should remain so. In order to enjoy these cars to the fullest, they must be modified to operate on modern roads! Afterall, driving a car is sort of the point in owning one.
I have seen these people get so worked up about modified cars, WHILE AT A MODIFIED CAR SHOW, that I'm really starting to worry about their mental health. I hate to be the one to say this to them, but they really need to take a look at why they get so upset about it and what that says about them. It's not their car. They didn't help rebuild it. They didn't help pay for it. Instead of focusing on how angry a car, that doesn't belong to them, is making them, maybe they should start asking themselves some hard questions. Like, "Did I remember to send in my membership dues to the AACA?" or "Why do I like inferior products?" or "Am I upset because this guy figured out how to do something, better, faster and for less money?" or "Maybe I should just give it all up and buy a Toyota Prius." I honestly think they would feel better about themselves and avoid some pain and mental anguish.
How do you handle these mentally unstable people? Simple. While you are at a show and you walk past their stock, 6 cylinder four door Granada, smile and make some comment about keeping it "original" or "that's the way it should be" and you'll be right, because it's their car, not yours. Kill them with kindness.
Ultimately, it's a car show. People are there to show off the hard work they've done, not to hear know-it-all, know nothings, moan about "How it should be."
It's not a Concours d'Elegance.
Nor is it a Barrett-Jackson auction.
Shows are meant to be fun. If you find yourself insulting other people's hard work at car shows, then just stay home.
The negative effects of, "That's not the right way."
If someone has built something that is unsafe, then correcting them is the right thing to do. If you simply don't like something, then keep your comments to yourself and move along.
The Rat Rod was a backlash to the building trends of the late '90s. People were tired of seeing row after row of pastel colored '32 and '34 Ford Coupes, every one with the same tweed interior and $500 Billet aluminum steering wheel. Street Rodders and Hot Rodders have no one to blame for the Rats arrival, but themselves. This post Rat Rod scene is now twenty years old and some still seem to not understand where Rats came from or how people could possibly like them. That's amazing to me.
If the "Purists" continue to harass people at shows, their will be another backlash and it will be worse than the Rat Rod. Young people will simply stop caring about modified Classic cars and they will stop being involved in the scene. We need a little more, "That's different! How'd you do that?" and a little less, "Get off my lawn!"
Keep on Cruisin'!
(P.S. I'm just kidding about buying a Prius. No one should ever buy one of those things!)
Art by: Chris Breeden
Thanks for reading!
About the Author:
"Chris Breeden is a Social Media content creator for Custom & Hot Rod Life on DRIVETRIBE, YouTube and Facebook. After spending 5 years in Southern California, a.k.a. Hot Rod Heaven, while serving as a jet engine mechanic in the United States Marine Corps, he moved back home to Tennessee with an even greater love for Hot Rodded Vintage Tin. Since then he has worked in retail sales and the transportation and logistics industry. In 2018, seeing a gap in Hot Rod and Custom Car coverage on DRIVETRIBE, Chris began advocating for their inclusion on the platform. During the summer months, he can be found all over the Tennessee region covering car shows, meets, and cruise-ins. During the winter months, he can be found in the garage working on his custom 1949 Ford two-door sedan and 1954 F100 truck."