If you’re a boater, or were a boater, or know anyone who is or was a boater, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I got my first boat at the age of eight. It was a dinghy with a paddle that I immediately upgraded to oars. By the age of eleven I had worked my way up to a 13 foot Boston Whaler with a 33 horsepower engine, and by age sixteen I had an 18 foot Baja speedboat with a 150 horsepower engine.
Following that came a 23 foot Thunderbird, then a 25 foot Carver, at 28 foot Tollycraft, a 30 foot Chris Craft, and then a 33 foot Chris Craft. See where I’m going? If you’re a boater, you might. If you’re a non-boater, you won’t. After the 33 foot Chris Craft came an 18 foot Sea Ray, and finally a 21 foot Wellcraft.
Boats and classic cars are not that much different in that no one owns one because they have to. They own one (or often more) because they want to. But what tends to happen is that the hobby that you once enjoyed slowly evolves into a lifestyle, whether you want it to or not. A small boat can be put in the water in the Spring and enjoyed as desired.
If you don’t use it, nothing catastrophic will happen, and the cost of not using it will be minimal. With a 33 foot boat, the costs associated with un-winterizing it, putting it in the water, maintaining it, taking it out of the water in the Fall, and winterizing it can be dramatic. And that’s assuming that nothing breaks. When you do the math and discover that it costs you $1000.00 per weekend to own this boat, whether you use it or not, you tend to want to use it.
It’s the same with classic cars. If you have that 1957 Thunderbird in the garage that you just paid $60,000 for, you’ll want to use it. You’ll take it to dinner, and cruise-nights, and you’ll enter it in car shows. And when it loses points for some obscure imperfection, you’ll remedy the problem and have it judged again at the next show. And then it’s off to some other state where you’ll spend a weekend having it judged at the regional show, and finally a week at the national show. It has become a lifestyle. You may enjoy this, or you may not.
I used to exhibit cars at shows ranging from local events to Concours level shows. Some cars were mine, and some were cars that I restored for customers. I’ve owned, restored, and shown many different kinds of cars. I can’t honestly say that I’m a “Corvette Guy” or a “Jaguar Guy” or any other kind of car guy for that matter. The truth is that I love all classic cars.
But I stopped showing cars for a couple of reasons. First, it became clear that in order to be competitive, I would have to embrace this lifestyle, and as much as I love classic cars, I simply didn’t want to. The other reason was the so called “experts” who would tell me everything that was wrong with the car. In most cases they were wrong.
I’ve owned a red 1972 Cougar Convertible for almost 40 years. It’s been in my family since it was new. I know everything that’s right…and the few little things that are wrong. Yet I would have people walk up to the car and tell me that this is wrong, and that’s wrong, and so on. I’d always ask them how they knew? Invariably I would receive a response such as “I had one just like it. Only it was a 1969. And it was red. And it had a different engine, and it was a coupe, and it was a Firebird.” What? Are you kidding me? As entertaining as this was, it was not enjoyable.
I still go to car shows as often as I can. But I go as a spectator. I have a great time looking at the cars and the parts, and talking to the people. I can arrive when I want and leave when I want. And no matter how certain I am that something is wrong with their car, I never tell them. Sometimes my wife even comes with me. It’s a nice day.
Which brings me to my point. If you do a quick search, you’ll find that on just about any given weekend from now until Labor Day, there will be multiple car shows, cruises and rallys on Long Island and the nearby regions. Many of these benefit a charity or other good cause. What better way to enjoy a day and help out at the same time than to attend one of these events.