Booster Masthead

Restoration Blvd.
October 2004

Columnist — Allen Wright

Hot August Nights 2004 and the Chrome Circus

I don't know how many have noticed but the 2004 Presidential race seems to be in disarray. In fact, the candidates seem quite disorganized and confused.

This is quite normal around this writer's garage and restoration projects.

But first, some thoughts on Hot August Nights 2004 in Reno, Nevada. Again, the week-long event was a huge success with over 800,000 people attending, 5,000 show cars registered, and driver quality cars just moving around.

Hot August Nights has gotten so popular that 2005 is sold out for cars and they're registering cars for 2006. The old car hobby is alive and well in the West.

Add top quality shows — many for free — and it is a party. The year Rod Stewart, Heart, The Beach Boys, Herman's Hermits, and many others kept things going. An auction, swap meet, and several cruises fill out the week's activities.

We went on the cheap, leaving after work on Wednesday. We spent the night on Wednesday in Bishop at the Rodeway Inn and then with relatives in their spare bedroom in Carson City. We treated ourselves to one night at the Reno Hilton at the end of the week.

Several things happened at Hot August Nights that you may find interesting. The first thing that happened was we actually broke the neck off a Flomaster muffler on the van on a dirt road outside of Bishop. Midas in Carson City handled that problem.

Second, we looked at way too many cars. In fact, after you have looked at 100 '57 Chevys, they begin to look the same.

There was one exception. At the auction Saturday a woman sold her original '57 Chevrolet convertible, fully loaded, for $121,000. The reserve — the least the owner would take — was $115,000. At $80,000 the auction stalled. Then two bidders went after it and ran it up to $121,000.

The car was fully loaded with everything available in 1957. The owner let me sit in it and the 15,000 original miles told the tale.

The third thing is that we got to see and meet the builder of the "1954" Chevrolet Corvette Nomad. His attention to detail was unbelievable and this car was my obvious favorite.

The question has come up, "Allen, why didn't you take any of your cars?" Three reasons. First of all, the Plymouth only gets seven miles per gallon. Second, the Corvette was not road-tested and was leaking lots of transmission fluid. Third, the Monte Carlo was leading engine oil and had broken a fuel line that had me worried about all the rubber hoses on the car.

The next question is generally, "Why didn't you use your car trailer and haul one up?" The true answer is we were disorganized and confused as to if and when we were going. I was happy that my bride went along and would rather have her with me than an old car.

Three days with old cars and relatives can, if handled poorly, have a terrible effect on a relationship. One poor devil in his 60s with a trophy wife in her 30s was putting up with shopping chatter at the classic car auction. I was happy that it was not me and moved my seat to better enjoy the auction.

Here's a tip: the Fireplace Lounge bar in the Peppermill is a truly romantic place with a fireplace in the center of the room and 20-30 small flat screen TVs scattered in every booth. It was very nice, quiet, and romantic.

In fact, a bride and groom shared their first married magic moments in the Fireplace Lounge. We spoke to the groom and he called it his "Hot August Nightmare."

It is time for more organization and less confusion. As I mentioned, I had a fuel leak in the '72 Monte Carlo and decided to replace all the rubber fuel lines. I found the fuel filter that I had in inventory but no fuel line. Off to Orange Engine and the problem was solved.

With fuel, transmission, or vacuum hoses I always try to buy twice what I need. This takes care of measuring and cutting errors as well as inventory for emergencies.

As always, I tossed the remainder in the miscellaneous automotive hose box that I had checked prior to visiting Orange Engine. What a surprise — I found two boxes with miscellaneous hose in them.

Just to prove a point and get somewhat organized I spent about an hour in my rubber hose department categorizing and organizing the hose inventory. In 3/16 hose I have 69", 13" and 4 1/2". In 1/4 hose I have 44", 15", and 10". In 5/16 hose I have 9", 6", and 5". In 3/8 hose I have 22", 11", and I will never run out of 5/8 heater hose — it looks like I have over 20 feet. I have them segregated as to fuel, transmission, and miscellaneous. Did I have the correct hose for the Monte Carlo? No, I didn't.

Was this good planning and organization? No, just dumb luck.

Sticking with the organization and confusion theme of this message, my next project for organization is auto bulbs. A casual glance at the inventory of old automotive bulbs that have been acquired over the years included top names like World bulbs, and Tronix bulbs as well as some white box bulbs with no numbers. Most have been gifts from neighbors and friends who were simply cleaning out their garage into mine.

It is kind of silly to have these. All I buy are new with names like Sylvania that I trust for quality. There is something that says poor restoration when you look at the running lights on old cars at night and they are not consistent in brightness. There were plenty of those in Reno!

One thing I have begun to notice — for whatever reason — is more chrome is being put on old cars for show. I call it the engine compartment and interior "chrome circus." I would be much happier — and give a restorer higher marks — if he used chrome more carefully. How do you keep that stuff clean? The simple, easy-to-understand stock-looking cars really impress me.

With simple and easy-to-understand in mind, I believe election 2004 will be a challenge for all of us.

Originally published in the October Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright 2004 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.