Take a Kid to a Car Show
If you’ve been reading my articles, I’m sure you’re familiar with the little pedal car stroller/wagon I built for my (then) youngest son Max. We’ve put a lot of miles on that little set of wheels and have made a lot of memories around it. To me, that’s what the essence of Street Rodding is. I grew up in a Street Rodding family. We traveled all over the country when I was a kid. Not to chase points or for a chance inclusion in a magazine photo, it was just a way of life. In the early days, there were pop-up campers behind rods on the way to a Rod Run or just for a family vacation.
Things have changed, years have passed and everything runs at a faster pace. The thing that hasn’t changed is the spark of enthusiasm in a young person’s eyes when they’re truly enamored with everything automotive. My older kids have been going to car shows and rod runs since they were born. We spent a lot of time looking through the split windshield of our ’39 Chevy sedan when they both still had car seats strapped down into the white tuck and rolled rear seat.
We sat on the running board eating hot dogs at weekly cruise nights and we all grew together around that old car. Those little garage helpers are both now nearly grown and have taken to the hobby as much as their means allow. Nowadays, they go to the rod runs we used to all go to as a family in their own car(s). It’s something that has stuck with them even though they still can’t quite afford to play at the level that “Street Rodding” has attained.
The thing they most associate with old cars are the wonderful people that they’ve grown up with and around. They’ve become an extended family. Extra grandparents, lots of weird uncles and some pretty cool cousins to grow up with.
Old cars. How old? That’s something that has been hotly debated in recent years in the Street Rodding world.
What is a Street Rod? Who is a Street Rodder? My son Jonny was about 15 when he ended up in the middle of one such debate. He was very proud of his ’79 Mercury. He’d done all of the work on it himself and he wished to be an active part of our car club. Our club has been restricted to pre-48 since it was chartered with NSRA in 1969.
When the question was raised in a meeting about expanding the year limitations there was fierce and vocal opposition. The main argument was the age of the automobile. I suppose it didn’t help mentioning, that in 1969 (when those rules were drafted), a 1932 Ford was the exact same age as the car that my son had put his time and effort into. 37 years old. Remember that spark of enthusiasm I was talking about earlier? The one you see in a kids eyes when they realize that they can build something from nothing? I saw one of those dim considerably that day when the people he’d known all his life turned on him. Jonny hasn’t been back to a club function since then. He’s still active in the hobby but on his own time and terms.
As established car enthusiasts I’ve always felt it was our responsibility to guide and foster the love of cars in the young people around us. No matter what it might be that they’re interested in.
When I remarried and we had Max I started to see that spark again. At just three, he’s got a natural intuition with mechanical things of every type and taking them apart. He still needs to work on the reassembly part. Looking at the Chevelle, I guess we both do.
I love the fact that the industry as a whole has simultaneously grown up a bit, and managed to get a little younger. Through the turmoil of rolling cutoff years being adopted and somewhat embraced, we are able to grow and be more inclusive. It’s my hope that all of my kids can continue to carry on our family Street Rodding tradition with the raw materials that they are able to acquire. Whether that’s a ’46 Ford or an ’85 Monte Carlo. Or a shiny little pedal car.