Hot Rod Dreams
It's the 1970s. Crosby, Stills, and Nash are on the radio. Muscle cars are old news and an old 'Cuda, Mustang, Chevelle, Nova, GTO, Olds 442, Javelin, or any number of others can be had for a couple hundred bucks if you know how to swap a distributor or rebuild a transmission. American Graffiti is only a couple years old, and with it comes a fresh breeze to the old cars, the ones built "before the war." Flatheads with Merc cranks, three-speed transmissions with '39 gear-sets, and lakes-pipes are back in the minds of young gearheads. Bob is one of them. He starts collecting parts for his hot rod, dreaming of dropped axles, open wheels, and no hood sides. Maybe he'll put bomber seats in it. For sure it will have a split windshield. Should he chop it? Channel it? Maybe a roadster would be more fun. Definitely split bones, at least up front - maybe even a suicide set-up. Three Stromberg 97s would fit the bill nicely...
Then life hits. His first son gives way to his second, then to a daughter, then another daughter. School field trips, baseball mitts, bikes, and birthday cakes become the norm. His budget is tight, but being a machinist, he knows how to make things work. The parts he wants will have to wait.
While the parts wait, time passes. Now it's the '80s, and a new truck is needed more than a hot rod, so there's a new ad in the classified section: "FS: Misc Hot Rod Parts. Flathead, trans, various metal. 867-5309." Short, sweet, to the point because words cost money. The parts are sold bit by bit, with the last of it going to George at work who said he could use the grill shell (it just wound up on his garage wall). Bob gets his new-to-him truck and his hot rod memories fade.
The years march by, and Bob's children grow, move out, and start their own families. He's still working as a machinist, but now he heads up the department at a different company, after a couple mergers and acquisitions of the old one. Retirement looms and he starts to think about what he's going to do to keep himself busy. His wife watches their grandkids regularly, so that takes up some of his time, but that's not enough to keep him occupied in his swiftly approaching retirement years. In the kitchen on a Sunday morning, he brings it up to her over a cup of coffee and the newspaper. "What about your old hot rod?" she asks innocently. "I haven't thought about that in years," he relies.
That's all it takes. He starts looking at the classified ads, this time looking at the sale posts rather than posting one himself. The ads have changed, he realizes. The old 5-and-dime papers have gotten thin; the internet is where all the young guys are posting things these days. What's that site they use? Craig something-or-other... Craigslist! That's it. He pulls it up and peruses the ads, but doesn't find anything promising. That's ok, it's waited this long, it can wait a little longer.
A few months go by and he sees it. A 1929 Model A coupe, with a rumble seat. It's all there, mostly untouched, and it's the right price. He calls the number listed and an old man answers the phone. They chat a bit, and Bob gets the details on the car. Sure enough, it's all there. He tells the old man that it's a little high, would he take less. "I might consider it," the old man says, and Bob shoots him a number. "That's fine. When will you be over to pick it up?" Just like that Bob's got the beginnings of a hot rod. He feels like a young man again, with the memories of life before flooding into his mind. The realization begins to wash over him, and he's a happy man.
Bob's my uncle, and he just acquired his hot rod. Congratulations Uncle Bob! But mine's still going to be cooler.