Give the Car Hobby a Hand

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The kick off of the Dallas car show season

Submitted: February 16, 2010

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Submitted: February 16, 2010



This weekend’s Autorama, for most practical purposes, is the kick off of the Dallas car show season. Car people love the Autorama as well as non car people. My car club the Dallas Area Classic Chevys since 1977 has had a display of quality tri-five iron at the show. Having worked the club booth, I can tell you thousands of people are interested in our cars and club. We always make plans to have a strong showing at the Autorama because it is one of our biggest recruiting tools. If I remember club folklore correctly, the club was born or at least consummated at the ‘76 Autorama. I look forward to going to the Autorama every year. In more than one way the Autorama is a great show.

But the Autorama also, in my mind, does some what of a small disservice to the hobby of classic cars. I feel after looking at all the triple chrome and billet parts combined with tricked out paint many aspiring car nuts think that if they want to get into the hobby they have to spend twenty to one hundred thousand dollars for or on a classic car to have one. You can and many people do but, you don’t have to. Now don’t get me wrong, if I had a wad of disposable cash my car would have it all but, I don’t so it doesn’t. To meet my budget, I have gone another direction.

I guess the best way to describe my direction would be a non-billet or traditional hot rodding. What is the definition of non billet traditional hot rodding you ask? Let me tell you. In my mind’s eye a traditional classic car should be have been made at the factory before 1964. Your ‘68 Camaro and ’70 Chevelle are muscle cars, sorry and a true hot rods should be pre war with the fenders taken off. And finally, the traditional classic car should have no visible billet parts or accessories.

Billet is a term that has been tossed around by many people in the car hobby however, many people are confuse about what billet actually is. I have heard fellow car guys who when responding to a question about a bolt-on accessory say, that’s not aluminum; that’s billet.” Clearly, some misunderstanding exists here.

If you go to the dictionary, you will find that billet is simply defined as a “bar of metal.” Billet parts can be made out of any type of metal. Although due to its light weight and low cost most billet parts are generally made from an alloy of aluminum.

Since most billet aluminum parts start their lives as a block of aluminum, the finished parts must be carved from these blocks. Another type of part is called die-cast. These parts are made from aluminum poured into a mold. Billet parts are more desirable than die-cast parts because, it is difficult to achieve a uniform structure when casting causing strength problems. Casted parts also has a less pleasing finish than your great looking top-quality billet parts. Sometimes cast items are dipped in chrome and called billet parts however; they are only look a-likes since the part has to be cut from a block of metal.

Now, when someone refers to a part as billet, you’ll know what they think they’re talking about.

Other examples of traditional classic cars would be no digital gauges or electronic fuel injected crate motors. A traditional classic car is one that is driven not, pulled on a trailer to events. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the before mention activities and items. It’s just that they don’t meet my naming criteria.

What was I rambling about? Oh yea! You don’t have to spend a fortune to be in the car hobby. Some of the regular low budget cars are show favorites and besides there are many other things you can do with your car other than showing it. See the club activity calendar. So, I guess I am saying that the classic cars hobby does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. If you take your time and set realistic goals you may be able to get by with just loosing a hand off the arm.

I myself have a traditional classic car that I would describe as a driver, not a show car. Even though I have spent far less than twenty thousand dollars on my car over the years, she is still a vessel of fun and excitement. I used to like to work more on restoration projects on the car but, now I reframe from large projects because I like to have the old girl available to drive for club events. But, that’s another blog.

© Copyright 2017 Alexander Arnell. All rights reserved.

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