Mark C. Bach

3 Little Lies in the Collector Car Hobby

I’ve maintained for a long time that car magazines that feature cars and their owners will always contain three standard lies. The following is not directed towards any one person, car or magazine but are general observations from a seasoned car junkie.

LIE #1 The horsepower myth.

Somewhere in the prestigious article the owner will state something like “The engine builder is pretty certain that the engine will put out 650 gajobies of horsepower. But they haven’t had time to go to the dyno shop yet!”

Hey folks, after spending chunks of cold, hard cash to build the thing go ahead and spend a couple of hundred more to dyno the car. Then keep the dyno sheet with you. And please report the rear wheel horsepower only or show exactly how the shop “guessed” (because that is what it is) at the engine horsepower before the drive train loss.
We all know the drive train robs the car of some horsepower but some shops sure use some high numbers for that mean drive train. Only report numbers you can prove or don’t list anything. My son’s friend thinks his VW Bug is a monster engine but he doesn’t claim that it puts out 300 HP!

LIE #2 The quarter mile timing slip

In that same article (usually 3-4 paragraphs later) the owner will state “I’m pretty sure this car will go in the 11’s but we haven’t actually taken it to the drag strip in the next local township yet.” Of course looking at some of these cars, you wonder if they’d even pass a tech inspection. But the point is that if you are going to brag about a quarter mile time, don’t dream up a number; just bring us the timing slip! Then there is no doubt about the times of the car. A lot of ten second cars never seem to make it to the local quarter mile asphalt lanes.

And finally……..

LIE #3 The owner is very proud of the car and is really going to drive it.

Yeah right! I’ve known one owner for seven years that trailers his
car to shows and takes his shoes off before stepping in the car. More power to him, and if that is what he wants to do, great. But his car’s odometer is now at 21 miles! Lots of people claim they are not going to trailer the car, but after spending gobs of moola to get the car right, I can’t fault the owner for wanting to preserve the car’s present condition.

Just don’t tell us something different! What brings me to share these 3 lies with you, is the following revelation. Some of you may watch on the Discovery Channel, the American Hot Rod show with Boyd Coddington and his crew building cars. Many of you might remember a yellow 1965 Mustang that was done for a good customer’s wife and her upcoming birthday. Now the wife oohhed and ahhhed over the car (guaranteeing her nationwide TV exposure) and said it was so perfect and she’d treasure it forever and drive it everywhere. Well that very car is now listed as being at the January 2005 Barrett-Jackson Car Auction in Scottsdale. Now I don’t know the owners and so don’t know what might be prompting them to sell the car and they have the right to change their mind, but the car was just done last year folks!

Just remember the 3 Lies the next time you read a feature car article!

See ya’ on the road.

39th Annual Specialty Equipment Market Association

Well folks it was another successful year at SEMA’s – This is the show you’ll hear about in magazines in three of four months, where manufacturers bring out their new products and services and show off their equipment in spectacular cars. Over 6,800 companies have joined the 39th Annual Specialty Equipment Market Association and at times it seems like every vendor was there.

This year at the 39th Annual Specialty Equipment Market Association, I noticed that the event has grown from the first year they held a small show in Dodge Stadium in 1967. This year over a million square feet was utilized for displays (every available square inch of space at the three interconnected buildings), plus they used large tents and outdoor displays to show their items off. To see every display you’ll need some endurance and walking shoes, as you cover over 18 miles to see all the aisles of carburetors, tires, rims and accessories. If you can’t find it at SEMA, they don’t make it!

A highlight of the show is walking through their showcase of new products. Over 1,500 items are submitted for review. Sometimes these are just minor alterations to fit a different engine or car and other times they are whole new, patented items. SEMA each year awards many of these items awards for their usefulness and inventiveness. Both Craftsman and Gear Wrench were showing off combination wrenches that are twisted 90 degrees on the handle, thus allowing users to have the handle fit into the palm of their hand better. Gear Wrench even had devices set up to see how much more torque and force you gained with this design.

For some it is the chance to have a conversation face to face with the managers and tech advisors for the company. Others are scouting the aisles looking for new products or companies that can augment their existing line of products. And for many it is a chance to eye ball some beauties – both the gorgeous models and the sensational cars. Over 2,000 cars are on display here at the show, from new offerings from the manufacturers and maybe even a concept car or two, to some historical vehicles and some current models customized with a bazillion monitors and mega watt sound systems. SEMA estimates that if all the cars were lined up bumper to bumper the line would stretch 5 ½ miles! Son, that’s a lot of cars!!

As far as new cars, the most talked about had to be GM’s first suggestion of what the Camaro will look like, while Dodge showed the Challenger. For my money, Dodge nailed it right on and truly has emulated the old style. Good luck General, your work is cut out for you. GM also featured a 1969 Camaro owned by Reggie Jackson with a new GM LSX engine. Jay Leno was not to be outdone with an “EcoJet” turbine powered car that produces 650 horses when powered up to 70% turbine speed. Chip Foose took time from his Overhaulin’ duties to bring out a lime green creation he named “Hemisfear”. If you were into celebrities from racing, they were all there from pioneers to rising starts. John Force hosted a NHRA breakfast that brought out legions of fans and lots of belly laughs.

Now for some bad news on the 39th Annual Specialty Equipment Market Association – this show is not open to the public. This is a trade show meaning that only those folks in the business can come and play! SEMA made a point this year of warning folks that they were cracking down on their credentials and making sure that voyeurs weren’t part of the 100,000 folks parading through the halls this year. But perhaps you can find a friendly shop will to sponsor you for the 2007 that will be held in Las Vegas from October 30 – November 2, 2007. For more info check out www.semashow.com. If you preregister the show costs only $15 while walk up attendees wait in long lines and pay $50.

For me, the 39th Annual Specialty Equipment Market Association was a blast and I look forward to again covering this spectacular event next year for the 40th milestone marker.

Copperstate 1000

Copperstate 1000 by Mark C. Bach

What to do after you buy a collector car? Why you drive them of course! And if you have some free time (and money) you might even go out with others on a rally like the Bell Lexus Copperstate 1000. For 20 years the Copperstate 1000 has been held within the State of Arizona to allow select owners a chance to take their rides out for a spin around the state and enjoy some spectacular scenery and friendship. For four days this April, the rally toured the state with a squad of Arizona Department of Public Safety motorcycle cops as escorts and a flat bed tow truck bringing up the rear. They even have a cargo truck to transport the extra luggage and spare parts that won’t fit in some of these cars.

This year the rally left from Tempe, Arizona on April 11, 2010. The public could cheer them on as they left the staging grounds of a local ball field (idle after baseball spring training). This might be the only chance to see and hear one of these exotics on the open road. Typically the Copperstate 1000 brings out a lot of European sports cars plus some pure American muscle. This year they even had a classic yellow Mini Cooper entered. While the rally does have a competition within it, the atmosphere is more collegial. Some folks can be even spotted applying their vinyl rally decals on their cars the day of the event. Most drivers have folks in the “co-pilot” seat and this year’s trend was pin striping the names of the drivers and passenger on the door sills.

Cars have to be 1973 or older, pass a mechanical inspection and be insured. This is not a race to the finish line (like the legendary Cannonball Rally) so drivers are warned to obey all traffic speed limits and regulations. The entry fee is a steep $5,500 but includes meals and lodging for two for the full rally.

In addition to the rally participants, the promoters set aside some close parking spots for 300 + local car aficionados who bring out their own collector cars for an impromptu, unorganized car show. After all how often can you find a Fiat van driven on the local streets?

The proceeds are used to support a local charity. Check out www.copperstate1000.com for the route they used this year and some photos from past events. It’s always nice to see classic cars being driven and not just stored in some private garage, out of sight of the drooling public.

See ya’ on the road.

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