HORROR STORIES by Keith Mathiowetz.
HORROR STORIES by Keith Mathiowetz (reprinted from Old Cars)
Lately, we on the OLD CARS editorial staff have been hearing a few disturbing stories from concerned readers throughout the country regarding some frightening practices they're seeing in the old car hobby. What they're witnessing involves the deliberate destruction of stock collector vehicles.
One reader in Arizona told us about the local car shows in his area and how they're affecting the types of cars people are bringing for display. It seems the events are getting so large and popular that a few well-heeled parties are trying to out-do each other with the most unusual modified vehicles. What are these owners customizing and bringing out to the shows? According to the reader, he knows personally of a couple of custom car shops in his area that have taken restored, stock Classic cars from the 1930s - including a Stutz and Marmon - and turned them into high-dollar hot rods. The story goes that the rich owners buy Classic cars, commission the shops to perform the customizing, and end up with a one-of-a-kind hot rod to show off. From what the reader said, the frames, engines, and other parts are discarded after the operation, never to be used again. Apparently, the owners have no regard for history, and the "It's my car and I'll do as I please" mentality takes over. It's appalling.
From another source, we heard about a "classic car demo derby" held in Minnesota earlier this month. Here, a promoter urged people who own operating cars manufactured through the mid 1960s to compete in this unique eve of destruction. One car was a 1959 Edsel four-door hardtop that was rescued from a grove by a teenager. He got the car running, spruced it up, and wrecked it in the derby. In truth, the car was already left for dead when the person found it, but it had a good grille, front bumper, and other hard-to-find Edsel parts that any restorer would've snapped up. Now, those pieces are gone. More disturbing, however, is that a teenager was allowed to think that an old car and rare parts are expendable. In a hobby that needs younger people involved, I would rather have seen him - with the help and guidance of a hobbyist - get the Edsel back on the road.
These are only two examples that have come to our attention, but I'm sure there are more. Though enthusiasts can't police every area of the hobby, we need to protect it where we can. Reckless activity can't be allowed to happen."