The changing shape of things to come.... the shaping of changes to come... Come on along....
This year has been, so far, full of surprises and unexpected twists. Every plan associated with it has went awry. Not that it has been a bad year, not at all. With adversity, came a diversity that opened doors to some new things, new direction and a more positive outlook. Business seems to be good and the family is healthy. New vehicles in the driveway and bills getting paid and a little extra in the bank. Of course, while the work is plentiful, the play must sometimes wait... and it did until now.
I was ready to submit this to the boss, did my final read and decided it wasn't something I wanted to represent my thoughts.
So we try again. The shaky business of trying to identify old race cars is a pain in the ass. If you have a clear and easy path, one in which the original builder/owner/driver, etc is still alive , that is great. If one or all are gone, well therein lies the path to madness. Photos can aid in the process of identifying the "corpse". The builder that was always trying something new and evolving with each chassis, can drive you mad. If there is a photo, that shows a bracket in an otherwise indisputable place and it is no longer there... You assume it was just cut off, sanded down and painted over. Naturally, you are going to restore said bracket back to its proper location. But, when you strip the paint back, the metallurgical finger print isn't there. Just an unmolested piece of tubing without tell tale signs of previous welds. What follows is a lengthy set of steps trying to figure out where it went, was it ever there, or the dreaded doubt as to wether it is actually what you believed it to be. You call everyone you know, search for more obscure photos and have that gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach and ask yourself,"... is it something else?" This is usually followed by the decision to forge on, rationalizing to yourself, there has to be a reason it is that way. I know, and have been told by some respected elders in our realm, " You are bringing back history." This is where my OCD hits 104% throttle. I have laid awake or sat up long into the early morning following leads scanning details. Maddening, when you look at the other side of the coin, there are restorations out there that have obviously been given about a 20% effort. Mismatched parts, that are two new, too old, incorrect or just wrong. Paint that is the wrong shade, color, hue, and lettering ( my pet peeve) that is sloppy and inaccurate. Yet, people drool over them as if they are 100 point concours.
Then... there's the one that was the tool used to make a living. Front clipped, back-halved, this chopped off, add a bracket here and "... grab that and make it work!" was the modus operandi of one of my collection. This told to me by members of the group that had hands on it. Multiple bodies, by different manufacturers, replaced due to damage, destruction or just worn out. There again, the "make it work" credo is employed. This particular one, I would find new photos over time, that would show one configuration and a couple races later, something different. One day, I sat down and printed every photo, in chronological order, on a 4x10 (feet...not inches) sheet of vinyl. After hanging it on the wall, I wanted to dig a hole and push the damn car in and cover it up. Crew members who knew it like the back of their hand are the most valuable source of info, when the builders and owners are long gone. When one tells you,"... it was constantly changed, just put what is there back together and enjoy it. The spirit is there." Another, I flatly asked, what he thought, based on all he has seen of what exists. When he says there is no doubt in his mind it is the real deal. Then you have to take it as the final word and press on.
A prospective buyer, of one member of my herd, called to initiate a dialogue and possible sale. I've always been of the opinion, you MUST disclose the good, bad and ugly of every deal. For a number of reasons, the most important of which... trust. In some cases, you are talking large sums of money. Lying catches up to you and can be detrimental and destroy any hope of a good reputation. In our conversation, I went to great lengths to explain, outline and warn the guy about all it encompasses. The gentleman collects across a broad spectrum of racing genres and his response to my monologue, which I fully felt to be deal breaker. " Look, these old things don't have serial numbers, were cobbled up and worn out. You should try restoring "_____" , those things will drive you crazy. We're preserving history. How much of history is 100% accurate." With that said, and the explanation of the hodge podge concerning the piece up for grabs, a moment of silence... then," What would you like, fund transfer or cashiers check?" That is when you realize you are dealing with someone who gets it.
I love the way these things drive me crazy sometimes. I hate getting rid of anything and understand the logic of the person with the car in the yard, saying," I'm going to fix that one day." To some of us it's not about the money. I often have sold things for what I have in them, maybe a few bucks more. Sometimes I have sold them to get something more desirable, or just to see them get finished. Ego... nah. Sure it's cool to say, "I own Buffalo Boris' third spur from his 8th pair of boots he wore at Crestwood Mall on the 30th anniversary of Woolworth's lunch counter." It only means something to a limited amount of people who may express the same interest. I dig it because it is history and some of it holds a distinct place in the evolution of the most important and consistent passion in my life... drag racing, hot rods and anything fast and noisy. Of all that I have owned, or has passed through my hands, the most significant to me is the Mickey Thompson Maverick. Not because it was Mickey's...not at all. Maybe a little, because my first car was a Maverick. Mostly though... it was built by Buttera... Lil' John f*%!ing Buttera. The first narrow, dragster style, funny car chassis he built. Things never seen or done were utilized in building this one. The same guy who blew everyone's minds with the street cars he built. The guy who basically created the billet wheel... led a group of hot rodders to Indy with a competitive car... the guy who smoked half a pack of cigarettes with me one Saturday morning on a picnic bench, behind the Mr. Gasket trailer at the Street Machine Nationals and talked to me about making stuff most people "don't give a shit" about. THAT is the prized piece, when all considered, was crafted solely by whom I consider the master. History is what it should be about. There will always be those in it for profit, hoarding and/or ego. Eventually, they go away and the purists and preservationists may or may not rescue their stash. One day, I and those like minded will be gone. The caretakers who follow, will hopefully possess the same passion to represent the history and not the materialist motivated end of the hobby.
That's all I got.
NOSTALGIA DRAG WORLD - By Eddie Buck