This past Friday, July 8, 2016 marked the seventh annual National Collector Car Appreciation Day.
A wide range of automotive events are held on the second Friday in July to honor Collector Car Appreciation Day (CCAD). At the request of the SEMA Action Network (SAN), this “holiday” has been marked each year since 2010 by a U.S. Senate Resolution recognizing that the “collection and restoration of historic and classic cars is an important part of preserving the technological achievements and cultural heritage of the United States.” As this annual event continues to grow worldwide, states, provinces, counties and cities are following suit with their own recognition. The SAN encourages participation throughout the month of July to honor the classics of the past and the future.
While I routinely attend collector car shows, auctions, swap meet, and races, I think that the absolute BEST way to promote recognition and appreciation of collector cars is to get them out on the road and DRIVE them! Think about it, if you load your beloved classic in a car hauler, and tow it to an event where it will be on display for a few hours, then the only people who will really see it, are existing car enthusiasts … people who already have a great appreciation for collector cars.
I understand that there is always the concern of damaging the car. However, when a collector car is out on the road, then the general public gets to experience the emotional triggers from seeing and hearing the cars in action, which is how most of us got “hooked”. It happens every time that you take your classic out on the road, whether it’s during a gas station stop, or simply sitting at a traffic light … complete strangers will complement the car, share their memory of a similar car, and comment on how “they sure don’t make them like they use to!”.
That reminds me of a pristine ’67 Corvette that I saw back in May. I was sitting in the waiting room at my local Chevy Dealer while my Avalanche was being serviced. There were several other customers there including an unassuming senior man who, I’m guessing was about 70 years old. A few minutes later, a dealership mechanic pulled up in the beautiful 1967 Corvette roadster pictured here. He parked it and gave the keys to the senior gentleman. I instinctively jumped out of my seat to take a closer look as did several others at the dealership. You simply can’t help but smile when you see a car like this in a normal, “everyday setting”.
The car was a 327/300, 4 speed car in absolute pristine condition. When I asked the man how long he has owned it, I was a bit shocked by his reply … “I’ve owned it since ’67, when it was new”. My next question … “How many miles does she have?” … He replied, “Well, the odometer has cut out a few times, but I have put at least 250,000 miles on it.” For a brief second, I was completely confused as the visual signals coming from this car simply didn’t compute with 250,000 miles of driving. Of course, he continued to tell me that he had a complete body-off restoration several years ago … however, the important difference here is that even after the restoration, he CONTINUES to drive it regularly.
This guy has it right, these beautiful classics need to be driven in order to be fully appreciated by both owners and spectators. It makes me stop and think of all of the ultra-low mileage, unrestored collector cars that seem to be appearing more frequently at auction. While I understand the historic significance and the fact that these unrestored, low mileage cars serve as a benchmark for judging and restoration experts, I still think it’s a bit of a shame that these wonderful machines are sentenced to life of temperature controller storage … never getting an opportunity to run though the gears, drift through a turn, or do a smokey burnout … never to be experienced as intended. Whether it’s a ’67 427 Tri-Power Corvette with only 2,000 miles or a ’79 Pontiac Trans Am Silver Edition with 7 miles on the clock … these cars were designed to be driven … and occasionally driven very hard, in order to be fully appreciated. Now that you have the car of your dreams, its time to take it out of its protective bubble, and drive it as you always dreamed.