Maintaining our Automotive and Spiritual Pulse
Car shows and meets are special worlds that have unique vibes to them. There is something about being completely surrounded by automobiles that makes people forget where they really are for a short time. For automobile enthusiasts, it is a place where they breathe and come alive. No matter what vehicle discipline one may be accustomed to, a mutual respect for all others prevails on a small patch of asphalt, or inside of an exhibition hall.
These periodic events can be considered socially-psychological drugs containing highs and lows. Car meets heighten the spirits of onlookers who stop and stare, or glance while walking by. People become excited by outstanding works of art that are both mechanical and aesthetic. Some viewers become so overjoyed by a machine that they question the owner for more details of the build.
On the flip side of this emotion, standing in awe of these crafty works sometimes makes people feel their cars are inferior to the one that they are staring at. A car built at such a high caliber makes people question what these enthusiasts do for a living to fund these expensive projects. Some of us – if not most- cannot afford to dump several thousands of dollars into a car and still manage life’s responsibilities without skipping a beat. The low-budget hopefuls of American society try their best to scrape up enough change to order just a basic cold air intake.
I have only lived in Arizona for two years (I am a Las Vegas native). The last time I attended a meet was about five years ago when I was in the army stationed up in Washington state.
Back then (2008), I made a contribution to the scene with my SR-powered S13 240SX, dressing it as sleeper. On the outside, it looked like a completely stock 240, including the factory MY 1990 wheel covers to boot. The only parts that compromised the “stock” appearance were the Seibon carbon fiber hood (which I cracked in an accident) and a 3” APEXi cat-back exhaust. But underneath that carbon hood was a genuine red-top SR20DET. By the following year, it became drift-ready.
Relishing old memories of my last ride, I took up an offer to go to a meet in Scottsdale, Arizona a friend of mine had told me about. Peter had told me that it began around 6:00pm, so around 5:15, my trek east across Interstate 10 to Scottsdale began from a distant suburb of Phoenix.
After getting my $8.99 fill of Jack in the Box, riding across town, and finding my way there, I pulled off the Loop 101 North at Indian Bend Road in Scottsdale. Finding the McDonald’s I was given as a landmark to find, I pulled into it and what I saw next made me utter two words: “OH S***.”
What would normally be a parking lot for a typical shopping venture became a tarmac stage that spanned from its entrance to the other side with the Scottsdale Pavilions serving as a sort of town square. I had just discovered an automotive amusement park that required no monetary charge for admission. Stepping out of my Z, I was greeted by a DJ playing music from the 1950s, found people scattered everywhere, and CARS CARS CARS; “sensory overload” is a very minor understatement. It was only about 6:45 when I showed up, so this was just the beginning. That moment when a lifeless soul becomes resurrected – this was it.
This is how people roll in the Sonoran Desert north of the border. So many cars that nourish the eyeballs and the brain…..Rat Rods of the 30s, 1950 Chevys, old-school Vee Dub Bugs, both classic and new age muscle, tuners, Corvettes galore – I expect to see a C7 pull up later this year – some exotics, and even our two wheeled cousins. Let the tour of the Arizona car scene begin….
Although I am a Japanese import enthusiast, I respect cars from every corner of the globe, including the ones made right here on our American soil. Walking by a row of modern-generation Dodge Challengers, I took it upon myself to learn what the badge R/T meant. My Nokia Lumia 710 educated me by telling me it stands for “Road/Track”, with no “and” between the two nouns; Interesting to know after twelve years of automotive passion.
Here’s the cool thing about the Dodge Challenger: its Dad’s Saturday night cruiser around town and still hauls rear wherever it goes. With those iconic headlights and 5.7L HEMI engine, it makes grown men blush. Once again, mad props to the Dodge brothers.
Moving on to other things, since I saw a row of Z-cars, I had to pay a visit and see what was on display. An eclectic band of Zs, mainly composing of 4th, 5th, and 6th gen Fairladys. There wasn’t much to see here, but it was nice to see some people rocking the classic Z32 of the mid nineties with the famous VG30DETT Twin Turbo V6 – sad how Nissan yanked the snails seven years later…..
Heading to the south end of the lot, I stumbled upon “The Heartbeat of America” in the form of the Chevrolet Corvette from every generation. There were lined up together as if they rolled off an assembly line and were awaiting delivery to dealerships across the country. Its only a matter of time until C7s are pulling up with mods…
Cars become streams that follow their own path, but are connected to a massive river that flows to a mountain. Even if every car has a different style, each one flows to one stream. The one that brings the entire automotive community together: classics. They are the machines that started it all, the rare rides that distinguish themselves from all others with no effort, the ones people restore, and the ones that privileged owners hold onto for as long as humanly possible. It is the one generation that gains appreciation from all walks of life.
As the night carried on, some cars began to peel off, and what seemed to be a club of STIs and EVOs started to fall in. About an hour after walking the lot, my friend Peter pulled up with two of his three 4th Gen Camaros. After walking around with him and having dinner, we walked back to his cars.
Funny thing about men and cars: pop the hood, and they will come. Sure enough, he drew a small crowd to his dark blue Camaro and began to be interrogated by Camaro enthusiasts. While standing with Peter and his entourage, there was a guy pumping bass out of a lowered Nissan pickup truck with enough force that the sound waves would read on a Richter scale. One of the guys chatting with Peter asked him to start up his car. Firing up his modified LS1 is the only sound heard by everyone standing within a 300 foot radius of that motor. No more earth-shattering bass after that!
Sadly for me, it was time to start rolling back to the house. Being the college student that I am, I had homework to attend to (LAME!!).
This is the part that hurts the most about meets – leaving them. It’s the painful realization that the guests of the show have to return to their toilsome lives that can’t afford them to build these museum exhibits. Car meets are what help people maintain a pulse in a dull life, where people come together to exchange ideas, forge new relationships, show off their works, and create an atmosphere people never want to leave. Hopefully some time in this next year or two I will regain my membership to the society of modified wheels.
Find Charles here.
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