"HE'S GOING TO LEAN ON YOUR CAR" - Nightmares from the frontlines of car shows.
There's a TV ad from a prominent collector car insurance company that shows a giant-sized guy at a car show. This humanoid mega-monster comes complete with a menacing large chain dangling from his pants.
He circles the bait, which happens to be a 1957 Chevrolet. Then, after a suspense filled pause, Tiny parks his 300-pound carcass on the hood of this classic car. The owner is close enough to see this madness but powerless to stop it. The ad ends with "Jumbo" leaning back on the hood of the victim and the poor car sagging under the weight.
Some might see this ad as exaggeration for effect, but most car guys have witnessed antics just like that and worse at virtually every car show on the planet.
The complete lack of remorse shown by the large chain-wearing gorilla in the ad is also depressingly accurate.
Car-show folk are generally hospitable folk, the kind of people who welcome visitors with an honest friendliness. Car guys that aren't that keen on the public rarely, if ever, bring their cars to shows, so the odds are solid that the typical owner at a show is going to be a lady or gentleman.
But ladies and gentlemen have limits, and those limits are pushed to the breaking point far too often at car shows by idiots like the fat guy in the TV ad. And this XXXX sized moron isn't the only threat to your car at a show. In fact, he might not even be the worst threat ... he's just the most visible.
Car-show idiots come in many shapes and sizes because callous disregard for somebody else's property can come from any age or gender. The simple explanation is this:
Nature likes to paint the "common sense gene" over a big canvas. So anybody of any age, male or female, can be a serious threat to your $10,000 paint job basically because they lack this thinly-spread basic common-sense gene.
The simplest way to describe this car show horror is to think of a collector car as a really nice flower garden and the owner is a really good gardener who likes to show his or her garden to the public. In most cases, people are happy to stay on the sidewalk and simply take in the beauty of the flowers.
But every now and then you get some thoughtless idiot who thinks that it's okay to wade into the garden and grab a fistful of roses for the "missus". That's the potential nightmare for every car owner at a car show.
And the worst thing is that these clueless morons are often offended by the repercussions that arise from this incredibly arrogant disregard for somebody else's property. Throw kids into the mix and you have the potential for a fatality.
No parent likes to admit that they flunked the mandatory "Make sure your kid doesn't climb on a $100,000 car" course, because admitting to that failure would be far worse than actually taking the lead on a 7-year-old kid in the common-sense department.
So instead of doing the right thing they'll choose the wrong thing ... they'll start ripping on the poor victim who invested a decade of his life and lots more money than he planned on a collector car.
Some others' experiences:
-"Even with the obligatory and often necessary "DO NOT TOUCH" signs, common sense can be an uncommon quality. Antique cars are something completely different. With the open bodies, large fenders and running boards, they have the attraction of an amusement park ride.
-"It's important to keep reminding people: My car is a member of my family. If you disrespect my car, you are disrespecting my family and that could be dangerous."
-"I was in a local car show for charity and this huge redneck with the big wallet chain and keys on his belt loop leaned right up against my car talking to another guy about it while I was getting some food, He was leaning against my passenger door and he left a giant gash in my door-panel paint. Surprisingly he offered to pay for the entire door to be repainted."
-"I had my car in a show and I like to take my kids. My son was four years old and I'm talking to a guy next to me with a Corvette.
Before I can act, my son threw a small pebble up in the air which came down on the guy's rear window. I apologized over and over.
The guy was really nice about it; he just said "no problem". I now bind and gag my kids at shows. No belts at shows, and hands behind their backs. I thought a 4 year old would understand. I was wrong."
-"For those XXX size guys with the huge belt-buckles, leaving a hood up is tantamount to baiting a mousetrap. For the kiddies who are in awe of the old cars, leaving doors open is tantamount to inviting them in for ice cream. For the `blondies', nothing is said until they actually touch something. Point is, there is no car show etiquette for the masses ... they know no better, and it is the risk all of us take when we feel it our civic pride to go out and show our stuff to the masses."
-"At the last car show I attended, there was an absolutely pristine 1905 or so brass car of a make and model rare enough that I couldn't identify it. It had a sort of tourabout body with no front doors.
While the owner's attention was elsewhere, a thirty-something woman brazenly mounted the running board, caught her shoelace in the hand-levers, kicked free and then climbed up into the driver's seat while her male companion snapped photos of her. And while she was up there, she repeatedly squeezed the dry-rotted, original rubber bulb of the car's brass horn, further cracking it. Apparently she was too dumb to realize the blat-blat-blat of the horn might attract the attention of the owner, who indeed arrived, and with an attitude befitting the situation at hand."
-"This is exactly why I don't do car shows anymore and park my daily driver far away, especially the shows in which the organizer has a vehicle in the show and concidentally wins first place."
-"Trust me, insurance can never make you whole when you suffer a loss."
-"I have never witnessed the totally clueless gorilla at a car show, even kids. My experience has been entirely of very gracious people genuinely interested in the car and minding their kids. They can be anything from a motorcycle gang aficionado, to a Wall Street banker, to a grandfather who knew the car when he was young. They've all been a pleasure to show the car to, and I enjoy doing it. Maybe I just live in the right part of the country."
-"Many years ago I had responsibility for a portion of the flight line at the WWII Wings of Freedom show in Geneseo, NY, which included the Canadian Warplane Heritage Hurricane an extremely rare flyable plane in N. America. Much to my horror, I saw a woman with a lit cigarette (despite signs posted every 20 yards) asking her friend 'what the pool of stuff under the Hurricane was' (it was oil). I quickly moved her away from the airplane and got soundly berated for my trouble, but I might have saved the airplane."
-"It's not always intentional. I chased a bystander away from a wrecked airplane with a woman trapped inside, as he absentmindedly put a cigarette in his mouth and was about to light it."
-"Just last Wednesday, I caught a drunk trying to crank the brass pickup while it was parked on Main Street among the revelers in Surf City. I made him put down his drink and crank it for real with his left hand, of course. It pleased him and the crowd."
-"I was at an airshow, with two of my projects. With ropes up and signs all over the place, a little kid shouted "That's not a real airplane." His mother said something stupid, like "Go find out". The little b****** ran under the rope and started banging his hand on the plane. I didn't know who to punch first. I didn't, but it did go through my mind. It's simply in the raising of the children. Respect is something that is no longer taught."
-"I was at an antique bicycle display, where due to limited space the highwheelers and others were placed close together. A mother with her young son approached; the son went under the display chain and knocked over the end bike, sending them down like dominoes as I and another owner tried desperately to hold them. As we were picking up the bikes I asked the mother to control her child, and was told that we "shouldn't have had them where he could get at them if we didn't want them touched." I told her he had just knocked over $50,000 worth of bikes and she walked off, without any further word."
-"My worst experience: he could not understand why I got angry because he felt compelled (and did) to open the door of my car and get in and play like he was driving. This was not a kid but a fullgrown dumb XXX.
Yes, the gene pool could use a little chlorine."
-"One time some kid opened my car door. I yelled at him, saying "Don't touch the car!" as his father looked on. I saw some guy with 3 kids who all climbed into someone's truck and they were jumping around. Their father let them do that and they were lucky the owner of the vehicle wasn't around. People like this are the curse of driving anything old or interesting."
-"Ever see the loudmouth who says "They don't make them like this anymore! This baby's built like a tank!" as he slams his fist down to add dramatic emphasis to his witty observation?"
-"Some people take liberties with your vehicle when it's unrestored or in the process of being restored so therefore they open their doors into it, lean on it, even sit on it, and 'you won't care'."
-"Where do these people come from? Manners and respect for others' property seem to be a thing of the past. Avoid being near cars that are covered with dents and stickers; their attitude seems to be 'well, I'm just going to toss it when it's ruined, so who cares?'"
-"If they don't have any respect for themselves or their things, they certainly aren't going to treat you or your possessions any better. Nor are they going to have the courtesy/decency to imbue their children with better manners and values than they themselves possess.
It isn't like the older generation who would put plastic seat covers over the new upholstery to keep it perfect and tell kids not to eat in the car.
People of that era worked hard for their things and took care of them and taught thier children to respect and care for their things and others'."
-"Because I like to drive my cars often, I have had to put up with a lot of stupid, selfish, thoughtless people ... like the woman who had to park next to my 1959 Dodge Coronet and diaper her kid on the hood of her Nissan and throw her door open right into my passenger side trim putting a crease into it ... or some obnoxious teenagers who decided to use my '57 Plymouth's hood as a picnic table while they took the pickles off their burgers."
-"I have had brushes with inconsiderate people on many occasions, and now it has gotten to the point where I simply tell people not to touch the car right from the start."
-"You'd be surprised at how stupid some people are.
Once outside a restaurant I saw a father watch his kids jump up and down on the hood of his fairly new import car for a couple minutes before he finally chimed in and told them to not jump so hard because 'this wasn't the old Chevy'."
-"People can be so dumb. I went to look at a 1959 Plymouth two-door that was for sale and the seller had some of the parts in a box above the car in the rafters, so he just jumped right onto the fender and then kneeled on the roof to get the box down. Needless to say he dimpled the roof, and I left. I honestly couldn't believe anyone would be that stupid to walk on a car he's trying to sell."
-"I actually caught one exclaim to his girlfriend as he sailed his butt up on the fender of my car: 'Quick, honey! Take a picture.'"
-"This is the problem with idiots at car shows who think of it this way: 'Well, if you didn't want anybody enjoying your car, you shoulda never brought it out the garage.'"
I look at it like this: how would you feel if I walked up and felt up your wife? I mean, if you didn't want anybody 'enjoying' her, you never shoulda bought her out the house."
-"I've actually had someone tell me pretty much what you stated, only they put it 'If you love that ******* car so much, you shouldn't be driving it.' (This was the woman who dented my 1959 Coronet's trim with her door while diapering her kid on the hood of her car.)"
-"I can only imagine how you must have felt when you saw that joker hop up onto your fender like that. This is the kind of thing that turns owners off car shows. Car shows shouldn't be stressful."
Who has similar car-show stories to share?