It certainly has been an interesting month: Bakersfield, California and Detroit, Michigan, the "Motor City."
Bakersfield has the annual AAA Hot Rod Reunion in September. The Hot Rod Reunion has an old car show, swap meet, and nostalgia drag racing events. It is probably the most open, friendly event for classic cars and racing all year.
We went to help with the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday sales of videos for my friend's company, Hot Rod Memories. My son, who is turning into quite the video salesman, came home from college to work the auto show.
I have been going there for years and what seemed normal to me seemed strange to my 19-year-old son. First off, he was not very impressed with the EZ-8 Motel accommodations furnished compliments of Hot Rod Memories. The EZ-8, at $37.88 per night, is a definite good value.
We met the hotel manager, a nice Australian fellow, who had a bunch of fun stories about the motel business. In one story, he told about a local couple who rented a room for two weeks. Every morning the female guest went to the front desk, paid for the room for the next day, and requested no housekeeping service. A local maid at the hotel inadvertently checked the room and found the husband/boyfriend dead. Police arrested the woman who told them she thought he had been sleeping.
Saturday night, when we returned from dinner, two women were getting ready to leave the EZ-8 in a cab. They stopped and asked if my son and I wanted to party. I wonder how my son tells this story now that he's back at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.
Breakfasts at the truck stop, long days of marketing videos, and late dinners at all-night diners gave my son a whole new vision of life as a traveling salesman.
Famoso Dragway is located about 30 minutes north of Bakersfield off Highway 99. The area is mostly farm country with fruit trees, grapes, and some other vegetables. To the west is some oil drilling and farm animals. In the morning, the manure smell — if the wind is right — is delightful. In the afternoon, with a favorable breeze, you get manure, rubber smoke from the burnouts, and the wonderful eye-burning nitro drag racers effect.
The best part of the Hot Rod Reunion is the people. Most folks, although you only see them once a year, always want to stop and talk.
There are the four New Zealand fellows, the group from Winslow, the cruisers from Oregon in their rat rods. The Hot Rod Reunion is like a pilgrimage to the Holy Land of old-style cars and racing. Linda Vaughn, Blackie Blackburn, Dave McLellan, and the whole staff of the Hot Rod Museum in Pomona were there.
For a weekend completely out of the ordinary the Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso is a recommended event.
Before we move to Detroit, a quick update on the '62 Golden Commando project. I'd like to thank Dupli-color for offering the vintage undercoating material in spray cans. That stuff really looks like the old-time tar-type stuff.
I got the frame connectors installed at Hamilton Alignment in Anaheim (nice welding, Al). The two-door hardtops without frame connectors had the nasty habit of popping out the rear windows as the body flexed during power launches.
I picked up the official DTS 4000 engine dyno results from the final pull: 423 horsepower at 5300 RPM with 457 lbs. of torque at 3400 RPM for the 413 Chrysler. This was with a 3310 Holley carburetor with 9.5-1 compression ratio and pump gasoline.
Compare this to the 440 I built in 2002 in the white Belvedere. Its results were 410 horsepower at 5200 RPM and 455 lbs. at 3200 RPM.
Those big block Chrysler engines are hard to beat and torque monsters at low RPM.
I hope to get the motor back in the car and get it running on its own. It is going on year two and I am still towing it around.
Now to Detroit, Michigan, the Motor City, where I visited probably the best museum in the world. Take your sweetie.
I'm talking about the Henry Ford Museum. This museum is not just for Ford guys — it's for the family. It has just about everything for everybody: made-in-America manufacturing displays; fully-furnished '50's and '60's homes; made-in-America power generation. There is an exhibit on Heroes of the Sky on adventures in early flight. And there are, of course, automobiles, trucks, and racecars. You could spend a week visiting the Museum, Greenfield Village, the Imax Theater, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, and the Benson Ford Research Center.
I seldom agree with advertising but I can certainly agree from what I have seen that the Henry Ford is truly as advertised: "America's Greatest History Attraction."
The cars were neat and pretty unique and were not only Fords but all brands, including exotics. One of my favorites was a Chrysler turbine car.
The most impressive piece to this writer, however, was The Allegheny. This is a coal-fired railroad engine that could pull 160 40,000 pound rail cars loaded with coal up a 12% grade at 60 miles per hour.
The Allegheny had 16 driving wheels in two groups of eight. It was a reciprocating design with the two sets of driving wheels hinged so the locomotive could go around curves. Designed for hauling lots of coal cars in the mountains of Ohio, this was the most powerful coal-fired steam locomotive the world had ever seen.
Both Henry Ford and his buddy, Thomas A. Edison, had influence on some of The Allegheny's system design. As it turned out, Henry got an Allegheny donated to the museum.
For the little people in your world, the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile would be about the best attraction.
The Henry Ford Museum is the only part of the park I had time for but I hope to see the rest someday.
The rest of Detroit didn't do too much for me.
Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week is right around the corner and I hope to see a lot of old friends up there this year at the AAPEX and SEMA shows.
Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.
Originally published in the November 2005 Automotive
Copyright 2005 by KAL Publications Inc.
Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.