My friend Bob Higginson, in a Facebook post, made this comment. "But like Eddie Buck said.." Do it right, or dont do it."
This was a quote he used, in a post, regarding his collection efforts to finish his period correct dragster. Firstly, someone quoting me is flattering and shocking at the same time. Yet, it is a credo I adhere to wholeheartedly. In this hobby, the words are what drive me nuts. Followed by the innate clueless comments and beliefs, this is a deadly mix for hardcore believers and fanboys alike. Deadly in that someone walks away furious and the other humiliated... if push came to shove in a verbal throwdown. The only problem, depending on the forum, is who wins and loses.
I suppose my job here is a purveyor of opinion and a provocateur of thought. Okay, so here goes. Even as a young lad, I can remember hearing people say they restored a car. When walking out to see their "restoration" , you were greeted to a mediocre paint job, air shocks and Cragars on their four-door Impala. Geez. A restoration in any definition, is to restore an object to as new condition. Then... there are "clones"... those don't exist and the magazine guy who coined that term in our realm, needs a good groin kick. You can argue with me until we explode and I will never acknowledge "clones" as a relevant or even appropriate term. NEVER... recreation.... maybe. The only clone is that sheep the scientists in Europe "made".
In this age of the contrived television shows, depicting the construction of a ride in an hour long show. The "illiterati" have gained more traction in their misunderstanding of how anything works... in the sense of how it all goes together. If you have even ran to get a couple bolts to hold a bracket on, you know the shows are purely entertainment, yes? NO! The real entertainment is watching a nut job like me, spend hours trying to find the proper geometry for a brake system. A few fuzzy photos showing hints of the pieces involved... in the background of photos meant to depict something else. I have spent hours, researching and recreating long gone decals for projects other than my own. Tens of thousands of dollars spent on parts that at some point were cast offs, hiding in a pile or under a bench. Now, these parts are often fought for once they hit the market. It's a constant spiral into madness... but I love it and wouldn't trade it for the world.
Bob, the subject at the opening of this tome, has the enviable position of having the remaining member of the team that built the original dragster he is recreating. You don't get a much higher high than that. What sparked this rant wasn't one of the many offerings out there that professed a "restored" vintage piece with modern parts. Nope... it was me. I nearly had something done that deviated from original. Something most would never see, nor would an equal amount have a clue as to what the original was. I had made the decision many weeks ago and regretted it and second guessed almost every day. It made practical sense, in its execution. But it wasn't the real deal and every time I passed what was left of the original, my stomach tightened and I would obsess over it for an hour or two. Needless to say, it's being done as it originally was. Throughout every restoration I have ever done, or worked on, I can list numerous times I have spent hours or days crafting a part. Sometimes it was at a good/great expense, only to find a photo or account that showed it was wrong. You learn humility when you have to cut off or scrap a piece. You also learn not to say anything about it, outside your circle. The old loudmouth who will echo his commonly uttered quip, " these idiots don't have a clue it wasn't right!. Leave it like you had it!"
Nope. No can do.
If I can't do it right, then I may as well just go play golf or some wasted effort like it. When you finish it, know it's right and have an old timer who was there when it was new, tell you it's exact... then there is the thrill. Whether it matters or not, to anyone else, you know. History and the preservation of it is what we are trying to achieve here. Don't call it a restoration if it truly isn't. If it's a recreation, make it right. Otherwise, call it a tribute. Don't represent your interpretation of the past... represent THE past as it was.
Is there such a thing as over-restored? Possibly... A little too shiny never hurt anything, just as long as it was the correct piece.
On another note, I had every intention of making the Nitro Revival in Barona last week. As real life and business would have it... they had other plans for me. I felt a little disappointed that I didn't go, but knew I made my contribution by helping with some of the support in its production. All in all, the photos showed what looked to be a great event. A few friends who were there called and gave their accounts of the day . Not one complained and one even said it was a bit of a life revival for him. Steve Gibbs, Ron Johnson, Don Ewald and his group should be ordering bigger shirts. Pride in what they accomplished should have them puffing their chests. I will be at the next one... work be damned.
In two more weeks, from this day, we will be bidding adieu to friends in Bakersfield, after what we hope to be a "corrected " Hot Rod Reunion. From all reports, the return to the Cacklefests of old is being promised. The politics of the NHRA dance has been hashed over at nauseum. Last year's event began in a volatile manner due to changes in the hierarchy and execution. After a few seat of the pants moves and corrections, it was a learning experience... hopefully. A lot of folks have said they are done and won't return. I was leaning that way, but then realized the only ones I would be sticking it to, were myself and wife and son. I've made a lot of friends at that place and it's the only time we can all get together, in most cases. I understand the aspects some can't see a way to look at as bygones and choose to skip. Hopefully, many were just frustrated at the events and will feel the pull to return. I don't know that our refusal to attend sends a message, as the powers that be will just find a new target to market the event to. At the very least, I can say I'll give it one more shot. If this year is a bust, then maybe the deal has lost its luster and we find a new place to gather.
On the Hippo front, work has begun on the new skin and all hopes will have it in the warm California sun, in March, with every hope of having taco smudges on it. Until then, get out and attend any event that helps our hobby. Take a kid to a car show. Do something noisy. See you in Bakersfield!
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Eddie Buck