HOT ROD INFLUENCERS AND ENCOURAGERS

BY PETER MILES, IMAGE STEPHAN SZANTAI

Some people might build hot rods by themselves. Solo. Responsible for the finished article all the way from the idea right through to completion. It’s an amazing effort; fabrication, engineering, engine building, body, paint, trim, etc… all as a matter of pride (and perhaps budget limits).

While appreciating these solo triumphs, I would imagine the vast majority of rods and customs come about with some level of collaboration, involving a few, maybe even many people in a joint effort. When reading about a car in a magazine, there will often be a list of people thanked by the owner for helping them get to the finish line and on the road.

Back in the ‘good old days’, a group might jump in a car, hitch a trailer, and go up country on a vintage tin hunt. So right from sourcing a project, clubmates or friends were joined in the effort of dragging old metal from a farm. Plenty of times, arm muscles consolidated in a tug of war. Flesh versus steel! In other situations, maybe they teamed up financially to make a purchase possible. I’ve heard of Friday nights spent at the tip as ‘a night out’, searching for something useful, for free.

Where does the old hot rod urge come from? Plenty say it’s from seeing a hot rod cruising down the street when we were a kid. Or it may be that we got to ride in one and life wasn’t the same after. We may have come from a hot rod or old car family; it’s our breeding, our DNA. From many possible causes, we now have a big magnet inside that draws us to old cars. We get excited being around them, and we love talking with others on the subject. We plan, scheme, and mentally lay out our next ride a thousand times over in our head. 

Have you gone out of your way to thank those who have influenced you, encouraged you, assisted you and helped you along? It’s not always possible, but if it is, why not?

It might be someone who mentored or educated you. Maybe direct hands-on teaching, or a looser acceptance and guidance. Perhaps a parent who loaned you money, even if they weren’t convinced it was a good idea. And it’s not always older folks – it may be our kids. Little ones who like hanging out around the shed, ‘helping with the spanners’. Some cars get built as an inheritance for little Johnny or little Jenny. Pass it on.

One story of double encouragement struck me recently. Firstly, a type of group encouragement that has only come with our modern computer world. Steve was a custom guy and he shared his most recent build as a thread on the Jalopy Journal (HAMB). The story progressed over years as he showed the work in progress photos. People appreciated his efforts and cheered him on online… “Keep at it”, “Fantastic”, “Can’t wait to see it finished,” were the comments and responses. People were able to be involved and witness the build and give real encouragement, even though they never got anywhere near it physically.

The second encouragement was much closer to home – his mother. She had always supported his customizing endeavours and told him that his latest car was “Going to be absolutely beautiful”. She unfortunately had cancer. Sometimes Steve would take her for treatment, and after the treatments she preferred to sit in her wheelchair in Steve’s driveway and watch him work on the car rather than go straight home to her place. What an incredible level of encouragement and inspiration. She sure barracked for him until she passed. Steve’s 1940 Buick custom has since won many prestigious awards. 

We probably all have opportunities to encourage others and appreciate those who have helped and cheered for us. Why not?

Peter Miles, Chaplain – ASRF Victoria
petergmiles@bigpond.com