Drive that Kustom

As seen in CKD#57-by Ron Springer

Anyone who knows me knows that there are certain things I believe in and certain things I don’t…and if I believe in something or someone I stand by it or them to the end…if I don’t, the same applies, only in reverse. (I’m not a grudge holder though…just believe in learning from experience.) When it comes to building a car and then draggin’ it around the country on a trailer; well, that’s the sort of thing I just don’t believe in doing.

Now, I can understand the desire to pull your car to a show if you’re going to be competing for the top prize at the G.N.R.S. Although, when I view the cars vying for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster the first thing that goes through my mind is, “Man, I’d like to take that baby out and see what she’d do.” I can understand trailering a car when the weather is so bad that driving to the show would mean arriving with a car that would take days to prepare for the event. But even that premise can be challenged. Last year Bo Huff took the Rockabilly Hound Dog to Darryl Starbird’s show in Tulsa. It was the dead of winter and snow was flying all the way from Carbon, Utah to Oklahoma. Bo couldn’t get an enclosed trailer so they hauled the Hound Dog on an open trailer all the way there. When they arrived in Tulsa, the Rockabilly Hound Dog was coated with road grime and the salt spray was half an inch thick on the front fenders and radiator. And you know how many magazines that car has been in.

I can understand folks who trailer their cars to events thousands of miles away, as long as they drive them when they arrive. For me, however, that thousand mile drive would be the reason for going to the show in the first place. I can even wrap my mind around folks who trailer their cars because (for health reasons) they are unable to endure the epic of driving a vintage car cross country. But other than that, it just doesn’t make sense to me to put something on a trailer that was meant from Detroit conception to be D-R-I-V-E-N.

The experience of driving your car is the penultimate motivation and reward for the thousands of hours and stacks of cash you’ve invested in building it. Not to mention a badge of honor. Sure, it’s fun to park your car at a show and watch people slobber all over themselves in admiration and envy. But getting into the driver’s seat and piloting your ride down the road is in my book, the ONLY reason for doing what we do

Give me a deserted back-road somewhere in rural America with a full tank of gas, air in my tires and no place to be for six or eight hours and I’ll be in Hog Heaven with a full bucket of slop. (Arkansas Euphemism)

I climb in the seat and take in the aroma; I can usually tell you which car I am sitting in blindfolded with the motor off. But when I turn the key and bring the engine to life the adventure begins to unfold. Whether it’s a 440 shakin’ the rafters, a Flathead burblin’, or a 235 a-hummin’ the sounds are like the sweetest overture I’ve ever taken in. Sometimes I just close my eyes and listen to the idle note. Then I put her in gear and let her loose. No plan… No left or right out of the drive… Just go. As I start down the road I take in all of the squeaks and rattles, all of the groans and mutters. I roll down the window summer and winter so I can feel the rush of air as we wind-up to speed. I gaze out over hoods long and lean to the asphalt beyond, over open engines with air cleaners whistling or chrome hood ornaments gleaming in the sun and I settle in. Now the scenery begins to rush past and time begins to move more slowly. A little vibration here and there, the smell of oil and gas and spent exhaust all blending together with the country air. I revel in the exhaust note. Before long, I feel one with the car and a peace comes over me. Whatever troubles, cares or worries I had when I slipped into the driver’s seat are gone. I scarcely notice other cars and people save for the ones I occasionally have to avoid. The sites, the smells, the sounds, the sensations…This is Heaven. And it always ends before I am ready.

Maybe it’s not like that for some people. And if not, I think they are missing the whole reason for doing what we do. Even if the drive doesn’t come off without a hitch, it’s still worth doing. I remember a story about Bob Hirohata driving his Merc. to a show in the rain with ankle-deep water in the floorboard because (at that time) the windows didn’t seal properly. And if memory serves, the story was fondly recalled; even though he had to take off his shoes and put them on top of the back seat to keep them dry.

So your car isn’t 100% roadworthy…just make sure you take along the number of a buddy who is willing to rescue you when you leave the barn. If you’re afraid of chipping that high-dollar paint, drive a little slower. If you’re worried about getting dings in the parking lot, walk a little farther. There just isn’t any good excuse for not driving your car.

I say, if you’ve got a Kustom Car or a Hot Rod…drive it! Drive it to the grocery store. Drive it to the kids soccer match. Drive it to work. Drive it in the spring, summer, fall and winter. Drive it all alone on a deserted back-road now and then…but most of all…drive it to the show!

et ita abscedit  Ron

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