For the past several years, I’ve been writing automotive-related articles; both on the Internet as well as for my Volkswagen club’s newsletter. I’ve also had a couple of letters published in magazines. I try to cover a diverse number of topics related to peoples’ fascination with cars and consider myself to be moderately successful in conveying my thoughts. With that said, I will put forth my thoughts regarding a relatively new trend that is gaining momentum in the car show circuit.
For decades, and I would suspect more or less since the automobile was borne into our culture some 120 years ago, there have been shows ranging from small gatherings of a few cars to major events where several hundred will converge. Until recently, they have all shared one thing in common: The owners are proud of their vehicles. They meticulously clean every nook and cranny of their prized possessions. If finances permit, a fresh paint job will shine with a mirror-like finish. If not, the owner is still conscientious when making an original car look as nice as possible. In short, the typical participant ensures that no stone is left unturned. Whether a person openly admits it or not, he or she would like to take that trophy or plaque home; for it is a testament of sorts that their car, their baby, their pride and joy, was one of the best. The only exceptions to this are when somebody has recently found a classic car hidden in a barn or perhaps sitting in a weed patch somewhere. The vehicle will be in restorable condition, but there hasn’t been adequate time for the owner to either get started on the project or to finish it before show time. These kinds of cars are treated as “Works in Progress” or even classified in a category such as “Diamond in the Rough.” It’s important to remember that the owner’s intent is a complete restoration. However, as I have foretold, a new and rather disturbing trend is taking a foothold at some shows.
There are people out there who have begun to purposely induce rust on either all of their cars or specific parts of them. The individual will actually go to extreme lengths to accomplish this. He or she will remove factory paint and deliberately expose bare metal to the elements. The faster it succumbs to the ravages of salt, dirt, and moisture, the better. In a perverse sort of way, the person is under the belief that this somehow gives a car “character,” or that it looks cool. Call me picky if you must, but I just don’t get it. This would be akin to trashing your house or entering some run-down shack in a home improvement contest. Or how about not bathing for a month or two before entering a beauty pageant? Hey, I know! Make sure you don’t brush your teeth a week before that hot date. That’ll wow ’em. I think this illustrates my point.
Thousands of aftermarket and factory replacement components are available to keep one’s car looking good indefinitely. Rust is an unsightly, damaging, and unfortunately, inevitable process. Why would anyone wish to speed this up, and worse yet, brag about it? Am I missing something?
I’ll opt to keep the appearance of my cars as close to the way they looked when they left the showroom. For those of you who share my beliefs, we can hope that, like a mullet haircut, the aforementioned trend is a passing and soon forgettable fad.