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Every old car has a story

Years ago I read a story about a service manager at a Cadillac dealership who always emphasized exceptional service for each and every customer. He repeatedly told his staff that regardless of the year or condition of a customer’s car, “Remember, it’s his Cadillac.”

If your 1957 Chevrolet convertible doesn't stand out enough already, add Elvis and Marilyn, along with a customized finned  scooter!
If your 1957 Chevrolet convertible doesn't stand out enough already, add Elvis and Marilyn, along with a customized finned scooter!
picture by Ted Hollman

The same philosophy applies to the collector car hobby. Not every car enthusiasts can own a rare, one of kind automobile - and just think how boring it would it be if the hobby were limited to that! Chances are, owning a car like the one you learned to drive on would mean more to you than owning something rarer, that you have no personal connection with. Don’t believe me? Jay Leno can, and usually does, buy any car he wants, regardless of price, but guess what car he says is one of his favorites? It’s his 1955 Buick Roadmaster that he owned when he was a young, struggling, stand-up comedian, during the time he met his wife. (see video with this article). Cars are something people connect with on a personal basis. So even if your collector car was produced in large numbers in it day, it’s your car and it’s unique in some way from all others.

While it’s great fun to own and enjoy a collectable car, we also have a stewardship responsibility to preserve the car for its next owner, which includes preserving the car’s individual story. Your car is a cultural icon that preserves a little piece of American if not world history, with its own personal story. At car shows and cruises, people will admire and appreciate your car, not just because of its make and model, but also for the car’s individual history. What is it? What engine is in it? Did you restore it? People almost always want to know more about your car and I’m guessing, as the proud owner, you’re probably more than happy to tell them about it.

When displaying your collectable car, sharing its story with attendees will enhance their appreciation of the car and the time period it came from. Make up a poster to describe the car. Display a photo album showing the pain-staking efforts you put into the restoration. Collect original advertising material for the year, make and model and have it available for viewing. Display time-period consumer items in and around the car so the viewer can put your car in context. This can include magazines, toys, picnic, camping or travel items from your car’s time period.

The attached slide show give some examples of ways others have displayed their classic cars at shows and cruises, as a way to enhance the viewer’s appreciation and enjoyment of the car and it’s time period. Be sure and also check out the video of Jay Leno’s 1955 Buick Roadmaster.

This week’s Trivia Question: What is the oldest still-active American automotive make?

Answer to last article’s Trivia Question: STP stands for Scientifically Treated Petroleum. Starting n 1961, STP was owned by Studebaker-Packard Corporation, with it’s CEO and spokesman being Andy Granatelli beginning in 1963.

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