What got you started on our shared obsession of Hot Rods and Street Machines? My obsession started when I was about 9-10 years old, our family was going on a shopping trip and we happened to stop at a diner along the way. I was not too excited about going shopping until we stopped for lunch. As I got out of the car, there were about a dozen Hot Rods and Muscle Cars in the parking lot! Going over to look at the cars was like being in Heaven! Every car was different, had its own style, from the bright yellow model A Street Rod to the 1967 Camaro with the side pipes and a tunnel ram sticking through the hood! I was like a deer caught in the headlights! The coolest part of it all was that as I was looking at them, the owners starting coming out of the restaurant and were more than happy to talk to a young kid that new nothing about cars! They were more than happy to tell me about their cars and answer all my stupid questions! Needless to say, my mind was on those cars for the rest of the trip!
That's about the time my magazine collection started. I can still remember the first car magazine I ever had, it was the October 1979 issue of Popular Hot Rodding and you will never guess what was on the cover. Scott Sullivan's 1967 Pro Street Nova!! Now that just pushed over the edge! There was nothing I didn't like about that car! Blower motor, BIG,fat tires, cool paint and graphics, it was the car of my dreams! It had nothing but attitude and a style that I, along with just about everyone else, just fell in love with! After that (in no particular order) it was Rick Dobbertin's Nova and J2000, Scott’s Cheezwhiz 55, Mark Grimes' Eurosport, Malibu and Nova, Rod Saboury's Corvettes, Anything Rad Rides by Troy etc. etc. etc.
I was never able to see those cars in person back then but they definitley had an effect on my psyche. The cars and their builders became my heroes and role models! I followed them all as much as possible through the mags. and dreamed of being like them someday.
In the mid 90s I built my own Street Machine. It was a 1972 Nova that I had sitting in my garage. I wanted something that wasn't seen around here (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) so I contacted a local builder and we got started on it. I had the engine rebuilt to about 450 h.p., had a rebuilt Muncie 4-speed trans. and a rebuilt suspension that we lowered 2 inches front and rear. We widened the quarter panels 2 inches on each side but made it look factory and mounted scoops in them. You couldn't tell they were widened unless it was next to a stock Nova. Shaved all the handles and locks, made custom bowtie side marker lights, put a digital dash in it and used House of Kolor shimrin pearl paint for the painjob. in 2005 I was also fortunate enough to buy a 63 Nova S.S. Convertible from Mark Grimes. It had a 468 big block with a 700r4 trans. It was on a full rectangular tube chassis with Baer disc brakes and air ride suspension. It also featured 18 and 20 inch wheels and was bright yellow with a black top and interior. I was lucky enough to win the "Best Bitchin" award at the Good Guys show in Columbus, Ohio in 2006 with the 63 Nova. Unfortunately, I no longer own either of those cars and wish every day I had them back but, life goes on.
In 2008 I created my own website dedicated to the Street Machine scene (this site being the latest and greatest version of it). I made it a point to show the history of the Street Machine Nationals and what Street Machines have evolved into today. I have been lucky enough to become friends with a lot of the guys that were my heroes when I was a kid, hell, they’re still my heroes today! Guys like Scott Sullivan, Rick Dobbertin, Rod Saboury, Matt and Debbie Hay, Gary Buckles, Troy Trepanier, Mark Grimes and the list goes on. I was finally able to see some of the cars that were such an influence on me at the Street Machine Nationals when they finally brought it back to DuQuoin in 2013!
Hot Rods and Street Machines are in my blood. I cannot ever seem to get enough of them! There seems to be a resurgence in Pro-Street, Thank GOD! We really need something besides a field of cars all built the same way at every event! Let's not just follow the "trends", let's do something different and build something YOU want to drive, something that lights a fire inside of you! You never know who you might influence or inspire!!
Until next time…..