Where to start with this one? First off some business. Many of you have written to me at the email address below, and I want you to know I have certainly read every one, and thanks all of you for enthusiastic responses. Several of you have gotten personal replies (but don’t be offended if you didn’t; It’s more important to me to hear what’s on your mind). One person asked if we could make photos enlarge if you click on them, and
Sabina (Bill’s wife who is wonderfully responsible for the new look of this whole site, and who is tediously trying to teach this old dog–me–all the new tricks I need to learn to run this column) tells me she has done this. Give it a try.
I’ve also gotten a couple of topic ideas, with photos, one of which you’ll see soon. Thanks mucho.
Third, somebody in the mag business–or maybe it was Bill–said that today’s audience wants to see rods and customs from the ’70s and ’80s these days. Well, I’ve got plenty of that, and this column will just be a first example.
This one is also photo intensive, because the images get the point across without a lot of explaining. But what is the point, you’re probably asking?
Wellll. Since you’re on the internet, and since you’re a hot rodder, you’ve probably heard that there’s been a regime change at the venerable L.A. Roadster Show. Lots of changes in the last two years, one of which being that it’s not even on Father’s Day anymore. It’s on Friday and Saturday instead. And the other being that roadsters–even painted and
upholstered ones–don’t get in free. It costs fifty bucks. And if you want to bring your unpainted roadster or something with a roof, and park in the “preferred” area, it’s eighty. A lot of people didn’t come, as you might expect. And there’s talk already of changing things back, as you also might expect. But I don’t want to get into the wherefores of any of that. Something else tightened my undershorts, and I’m afraid it’s starting to affect other events, too.
When I arrived at the hallowed gates in my finally-admissable roadster, and paid my money, I was pointed to some guy in uniform sitting in a golf cart, and told “Follow him.” Okay. He led me into the fairgrounds at 5 mph, and I could tell pretty quickly that he was
going to (slowly) lead me to some spot and say “Park there.” I’m no power parker, but I do like to pick my own parking place. Plus I like to cruise around a bit to see who and what else is there. However, this being Friday morning, I wanted to “do” the swap meet first, and told the guy that’s where I wanted to go. Thankfully he said OK, and very slowly led me across the mostly vacant fairgrounds to the swap area. Also thankfully, we could drive around in there, so I found a place to park my roadster, walked the swap meet, bought a couple things, and left through the swap gate.
Of course when I came back Saturday early, it was the same drill, so I told the “guard” I had to pick up something in the swap area (which was true, a cherry pair of Rotoflo shocks I had put a deposit on). Then I figured I’d go park with the relatively few other roadsters on the fairgrounds. Uh uh. As I drove back toward that area I was met by another guy in a uniform holding a “STOP” sign like a school crossing guard. I said
“Where can I go?” He just pointed left. So I went left, behind some buildings. But I know that fairgrounds pretty well, so I wormed my way back toward the roadsters. Within a minute a uniformed lady on a golf cart stopped me and said, “You can’t go here; go that way, back there.” So I drove behind the displays, turned back, and came in another way. Zappo. She got me again. “What are you doing?” she wanted to know. “I’m just cruising the fairgrounds,” I said, “Like usual.” Well, she told me in no uncertain terms, that was absolutely not allowed. And she started escorting me to an exit. Thank goodness we passed behind Roy Brizio’s big display, and he saw me and said, “Pat, park here.” Whew.
My point is hopefully obvious by now. A “rod run” where you have to park your car in a specified spot and leave it there for the duration stinks. Thank goodness other rod events I attend don’t have this rule–yet. To me, cruising the grounds is what makes rod and custom events so much better than an indoor car show or something like a concours. It’s dynamic, not static. Whether a participant or spectator, you get to see, hear, even smell these wonderful cars in action. On the other hand, another thing I think these photos graphically portray is that grounds cruising was more prevalent in the ’70s and ’80s, before lawn chairs and sun shades…and power parking.
The St. Paul fairgrounds, where many of these photos were taken at NSRA Nats in ’82, ’85, and ’87, is one of the best for cruising, with many criss-crossing streets. Kinda doubt these guys drove this thing from Texas (note license plate), but they had no problem cruising the grounds in ’82.
That year Frantic Fred Badberg and his late–great–wife Lu did drive from California in this super-clean roadster pickup that Fred built. Yes, this was the era of funky, often feathery cowboy hats.
Yes, click on these images to see the full view, which shows these kids obviously having at least as much fun as their folks. Unfortunately, most venues today have already outlawed these types of “motorized vehicles.” Why?
So you’d rather kick back in your lawn chair and drink beer? Let the ladies take the roadster out cruising. You’ve hopefully noticed women driving several of these cars. Plus, even 30-some years ago, most of these rods still look very tasty, wire wheels and all. At least I think so.
On the other hand, I must agree with certain critics (including my wife, Anna), that the monochrome, pastel, pink-and-aqua period of the late ’80s was neither tasteful nor long-lived (thankfully). I call it the ice cream era, with the worst being melting drips and blobs.
You can tell these cruisers are from that era. Actually, the smoothie roadster with the Boyds billet wheels and independent suspension came from the previous “everything red” phase. But I still think that’s a fine looking car. No?
Same for this nice orange ’33 coupe parked in St. Paul in ’82, protruding rear tires and all. And the message here is, who needs lawn chairs? Relax on your running boards and watch the cruisers go by.