Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Thought for the day: Hey, I'm not old, baby ... I'm classic.

Hot Rod? Yeah ... sleek, classy ... I like it!
Since way back before we were married, my husband called me Hot Rod. Not sure why. Was it my classy chassis? My shiny good looks? Surely, it wasn't my rumbling exhaust system, because I never did that around him until after we were married. And he only wished I was racy ... or fast. 

Maybe it was just because ... he liked me? He sure as heck liked cars. Especially hot rods. Still does, because he's a real deal gearhead. Which means, since we were teenagers, he's been a skilled shade tree mechanic who can pretty much rebuild an engine with his eyes closed and both hands tied behind his back. Slight exaggeration, but not by much.

Now, as I've explained a few times before,  I come from a long line of wanderers ... y'knowpeople who possess an inordinate ability to get lost. When we were dating, hubby would entertain himself for hours by driving somewhere, and then letting me direct him home from the middle of that God-only-knows-where nowhere. So, I suppose it's somewhat understandable that my father was, shall we say, dubious when, in the fall of 1968,  I told him my favorite gearhead and I were going to enter a road rally. With him behind the wheel, and ME (har-de-har-har) as the navigator.

This is the car he drove back then. Big Red, we called her. A 1961 Chevy Impala. Not exactly the kind of car one associates with a road rally, is it?

At registration, each team received multiple pages of instructions. In code. Kinda. It might say something like "2 L after circle S." That meant to take the second left turn, and the "circle S" turned out to be a monogrammed screen door on one of the houses at the side of the road. Tricky, huh?

We ran into a teensy bit of trouble with one of the directions. It said RT. Right turn, right? That's what I thought, too. But it wasn't. It was "Right AT THE T." So we lost some time getting back on course. Not to worry. We (ahem) made the time up quite handily. However, when we flew over a covered bridge, we literally FLEW. Pulled a regular yee-HA General Lee kinda maneuver. When Big Red came back to earth, I was sitting under the steering wheel. On his lap. Nice, but not terribly conducive to good driving. (He installed seat belts shortly after that.)

                                                                          Bottom line?

First Place Driver!!!

And if you can believe it, this direction-impaired, can't fold, let alone read a map person?

Holy moly! I won first place, too!!!!

After we moved to Georgia and were raising a family, he was too busy being an engineer at the foreskin of technology, (his words, not mine) to spend much time playing with cars. However, in the seventies, he and a buddy did build an econorail. You know ... a dragster?

That's ME sitting in there. Wow! It felt awesome.

Here's a better look at the champion window-rattler. The only sad thing is, after all the work it took to build her, they never got to race her. Not even once. Turned out the track didn't have proper insurance to cover that class vehicle back then, so they ended up selling her. Bummer!

Now, lo and behold, my better half is once again enjoying life as a gearhead. His three project cars are a gorgeous banana cream El Camino with a black racing stripe, a Corvette,  and my personal favorite, the Rat Rod:

1930 Model A

He put the original Model A body on an S-10 chassis, which facilitated a lot of modern safety features. How do you like that1958 Mercedes grill? We found it at a car show/swap meet when we went to Florida.

Another shot of his baby.
He took her out for a quick test run last week, and couldn't believe how FAST that girl can go. There's a long way to go before she's finished, but she is gonna be one awesome rat rod.

Hmmm, know what? He hasn't called me Hot Rod for quite a while. Shoot, I dunno,  maybe he oughta start calling me Rat Rod, instead.  After all, I may not have much rust, but I could use some extensive body work. And a good paint job. (But I still have plenty of VROOM under my hood!)

Oh, yeah. There IS a moral to my road rally story, if you think about it:

 With the  proper drive(r), you CAN overcome your weaknesses ... and you CAN win.

Still together, after all these years.

                                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Fabulous... I just love those cars. Shame you didn't use the dragster as a shopping car, there was plenty of room at the front for your groceries.

  2. A "Hot Rod" married to an engineer at the "foreskin of technology?" Am I going to have to wake my husband up now? I'm impressed that you won the 1st Place Navigator Award! No wonder your daughter-in-law asked you to be in the delivery room with her! You're still a Hot Rod, and I'm sure your "Gearhead" knows it too!

  3. Know anything about 1900-1910 cars? I've been trying to research some for my new WIP.

  4. Loved the pics! My dad raced in the early 60's at a little track in MA with a couple of his buddies (who did eventually go south to NASCAR). We kept his trophies for awhile but then were lost in a move at some point.

    My brother was a gear head for a long time, he had a goat, Bobby had a 442, and Danny had a Chevelle and they used to race down Higginson all the time.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Keep hearing Born To Be Wild in my head.

  5. Great story! I love old cars, so much more personality than they have now. That Model A is stunning! Can't wait to see it finished. You are a surprising girl, Hot Rod.

  6. Hi, Cro- Funny you should mention room for groceries. When looking at "dream cars", like the Morgan your wife likes, I say the "only reason" I won't buy it is because there's not enough room for groceries. (All those dollar signs have absolutely nothing to do with it ...)

    Julie- What? That describes your husband, too? (Engineers are a whole 'nother breed, aren't they?)I may still be a hot rod under the hood, but I sure could use some bondo and a paint job.

    Dianne- Sorry, I don't know a whole heck of a lot about cars of that vintage, other than the little tidbits I've picked up at car shows.

    Anne- Very cool about the gearheads in your family. Glad to stir up some good memories for you. I hear that song in my head, too, but it's usually the old fart version of it that I posted on my blog a while back. (sigh)

    Y'all take care.

  7. Hi, Austan. Wow, me surprising? That's one of the coolest things anyone's ever said to me. You're right about the old cars, though. Most of today's cars are like cloned "ticky-tacky houses, all in a row," if you remember that old song. (Although GM has some pretty awesome looking retro cars out now.) We go to a lot of car shows, and even though some of the newer high-dollar, high-tech cars are in some of them, those pretenders don't hold a candle to the old classics.

  8. Great pics! You and your hubs were obviously meant for each other. :)

  9. I love this post!

    The trophies are great. I'm not much of a map person either. When my husband and I were on our second date, he handed me a map and asked me to direct him to where we were going. About five minutes later, he said, "Um, you're holding the map upside down." But he kept handing me maps over our 20+ years of marriage (he is a patient man), and now I can navigate a fast route through NYC in rush hour.

  10. Vroom under the hood - love that, Susan!

  11. Delores- Glad ya like them.

    Linda- Yeah, I guess after all these years, we better be.

    Connie- Good for you. I've gotten better at reading maps than I used to be, too, but I still hate to fold 'em!

    Karen- That's because you've still got vroom under the hood, too!

  12. Hi Susan .. guess what I can comment - whay-hay .. happiness is a pop-up comment box - 'cept here .. when it's a Vroom Vroom ...

    Love the pictures - love conquers all and you win prizes, and he's still digging around in cars - so it's a happy existence ...great story ..

    Cheers Hilary

  13. Hi, Hilary. YAY! Success! All thanks to you, dear lady. I really appreciate your idea and help with changing the comment format. Glad you liked the story. Cheers to you, too.

  14. Please email me with what, exactly "the foreskin of technology" means, please. I am being slow today and can't figure it out. heehee

    I love, love, love cars and driving. We grew up in the era with the great cars and one of the things I miss the most is driving. I would do just about anything to go cruising the back country roads around here, with all the windows down and no traffic for miles around.

    I always wanted to enter a road race like that with Pooldad - they have them here, but we were always to busy. But I think we would've done great, he is a great driver - I can read a map and decipher clues and we get along really well in tense/fun situations. Congrats on your trophies.

  15. Now that was an awesome story! Would love to try a road rally, the Baja California race is the one I dream about.

  16. This was a real delight to read. A "shade tree mechanic" would also describe my husband. He'd love to have the time(and money) to work on some project cars.

  17. Hi, Skippy. I hope you and Pooldad get to enter a rally one of these days. It's a ton of fun. And if you're good at map-reading, you're already a step ahead of where I was. So, if ya ever get the chance, GRAB it!

    Beach Bum- Glad ya liked it. Why dream about it? Why not DO it? Baja might be out of reach right now, but surely there's something closer to home. Win, lose, or draw, it's a super experience.

    Kara- My hubby didn't get back to the project cars until he retired, so maybe your husband will do the same. (A busy man is a happy man!)

  18. Awesome message! That rat rod is sweet. Sounds like you and the hubs have a lot of fun together. Have a great night, Hot Rod!!

  19. Your post made my day! Wow, what a fab trip down Memory Lane. My neighbor, Melodie, had a 1961 blue Impala that had us drooling.

    Congrats on winning the trophy. Only a Hot Rod could outfox those directions! Great job!

  20. We call "gearheads" "petrolheads" down this way

  21. Hi Susan,
    Hysterical story - great 'message' and FABULOUS cars .... thanks for that day-brightener :-)

    All best

  22. Tell hubby the grille looks great. Looks like it came right off of my 1957 Mercedes 220S. While in college I had a neighbor who built a rail similar to yours. I volunteered to drive it. Scared the crap out of me and I lifted before the finish line. Never got into that thing, or anything else like it, again. Another, more intrepid driver (his mentally impaired cousin) took it to 1/1000th of an NHRA record.

  23. Hi, Tracy. Thanks. Yeah, we do have a lot of fun. (Laughter's free!)

    Kittie- The '61 was definitely sweet. Ours was competition orange, which looked red, with red line tires, a deep deep shine, and a tiger in the tank. (AKA reverb in the trunk) Only drawback was the huge expanse of glass windows. Could really get hot in there in the summer.

    Al- Petrolheads, huh? Never heard that one before. Thanks for the info.

    Karla- Glad to brighten your day. Just call me sunshine. Or light bulb, maybe. About twenty-five watts, I'd say.

    Mr. C.- I can see how the rail could scare the stuffing out of you. Those babies SOUND scary, VIBRATE like nobody's business, and they can FLY. But they DO have a roll cage and a chute ... and I would've loved to see my hubby's go down the track. With (ahem) someone other than my hubby behind the wheel.

  24. I'm in awe of people who can take old cars and bring them back to life. Love this post!! Great pics too.

  25. Hi Susan,
    My hubby would be salivating at those cars. He is from Michigan (Grand Rapids) and oil runs in his viens. Up until a few years ago every extra minute he had or didn't have (instead of changing diapers and helping with the kids), he was out there washing or checking out his cars. I know he loved them more. Now that he is older and "his frame" does not work as well, he only talks about cars and leaves the work to others.

    I, like you, am directionally challenged. I got lost a few years ago in our town of only .8 sq miles, which .1 is water. I just drove around and around in a circle until I gave us and had to make the dreaded call to hubby to rescue me. I was only about .2 miles away from home. He has told this story to many people and I am sure it has spread far and wide about the dumb redhead who could not find her way home. Have you heard it?

  26. Hot Rod! LOL!!

    My husband nicknamed me Gummy Bear so you can see where my envy lies ;)

  27. Hi, Arleen. I think a lot of men from "our generation" (early baby boomers) had oil in their veins, because the cars we grew up with were more user friendly for shade tree mechanics. (Plus they LOOKED better!) The younger guys who grew up with the boxy, generic-looking cars with all that electronically-controlled stuff in it didn't have that same experience, unless they were fortunate enough to get hold of a "real car." HA If your hubby isn't up to actually working on the cars anymore, I hope he can at least make it to some good car shows every once in a while. (We found a '61 Impala at one of the shows we went to, and it was even the same color as the one we used to have. I asked the owner if we could "sit in the back seat for a little while for old time's sake, but the old fart didn't have a sense of humor ...)

    Okay, I concede. Sounds like you have me beat in the directionally challenged category. (But my mother could've beat ya!)

    Take care.

    N. Scott- Ooh, I like that nickname, too. (Means you're really SWEET, right?)

  28. We fill up cars with petrol down here (not gas) hence the expression. You don't generally use the word petrol up there do you?
    Gas-head just wouldn't have the same ring.
    Rev-head is another one we use.

  29. Hi, Liz. Oops, how'd I miss your comments before? Anyway, thanks. I'm kinda in awe of people who can take anything old and restore it. (Like on the show "American Restoration.") Alas, no takers on restoring ME so far.

    Al- Yeah, we generally say gas or gasoline here, although I suspect the many owners of Brit-made cars here may call it petrol. (in case the MGs and Morgans won't run on "gas!")