The Knights of the Auto Order Proudly Present: The Auto Body Estimate: Vol. II, #109, July 2012
Last Thursday I high-tailed it out of town right after work and drove clear across Wisconsin to sleep in a camper with my dad in the middle of a sun-scorched hay field. My motivation? The 40th Anniversary Iola Old Car Show and Swap Meet in Iola, WI.
While my car collection is limited to the family minivan and a rusty, hail-dented Mazda 626, I love everything automotive, from Volkswagen Beetles to muscle cars, from deer-stand trucks to full-on rod and custom show creations. I also love browsing through acre after acre of junk for sale, including completed cars, less-than-completed cars, and all manner of junk only marginally related to cars.
So for me (and more than 100,000 others like me,) this particular hay file is the place to be. Think Burning Man for gear heads (minus the ban on cash transactions).
Some of my favorite vehicles at any car gathering are the street rods. For me, they exemplify creativity and "engine-uity" by combining everything their creators love about dozens of different cars and trucks, from multiple decades, into a unique, original vehicle. It's sort of like taking things you like from different genres of music, from multiple decades, and combining them into unique, original songs. Street-rodders also think nothing of investing way more time and money then they'll ever recoup should they sell their creation at some point down the road. It's just not something they do with profit as a motivation. I guess what I'm hinting at here is that like them, I'd probably keep making Auto Body Experience CDs even if they (inexplicably) didn't earn the Yoho family tons of money.
I've also come to realize that while I can enjoy a glossy, show-quality car, street rod or otherwise, these aren't the vehicles that hold the most magic for me: I love the "project cars." There's something about a car with mismatched fenders, sun-baked paint, and surface rust that excites my imagination for "what could be." Perhaps this is because these vehicles are priced closer to my budget, and thus feel more attainable. I'm not sure that's the main reason, though.
I think my fascination with junk yards and rusty cars goes back to the "CARtoons" magazine of my childhood. If you couldn't guess from the title, this was a car-themed comic book full of characters who inevitably had garages or yards full of old vehicles and parts. Plot lines involved the desire to build something (like a dune buggy to keep up with the latest youthful trends,) an ingenious variation (let's power it with a surplus jet engine so it can REALLY move!) and comic consequences.
What I took away from the CARtoons universe was the unformed idea that with the right combination of ingenuity, energy, and raw materials, you can create anything. This concept then developed into a sort of super power. From my first trips accompanying my dad to the salvage yard to look for parts for our old truck, I could see things others couldn't. They see junked cars. I see resources. I see potential.
In fact, I get such a charge out of imagining what could be, "finished cars" rarely offer me the same magic. As novelist Michael Chabon once said, "A hope fulfilled is already a half disappointment." Once a car is perfect, part of me feels its trajectory is all downhill. Not only does the owner live in mortal fear of parking lot shopping carts, they can almost hear every hose and bushing and piece of trim deteriorating. For me, the thrill is gone once I can't imagine bolting on some new part or taking a torch to the roof. As such, my highest admiration goes to the rat rods, with their bare-bones approaches, eclectic sources, and oxidized patinas.
The band's name notwithstanding, I can imagine my non-automotive friends may be wondering what all this has to do with the next Auto Body Experience gig. Fair enough.
I suggest that the next time you hear me flub a guitar lick, sing a little flat, or, heaven forbid, forget some of my own lyrics, you try a little experiment. Instead of thinking "oops," imagine that by providing these rare glimpses of imperfection, we're offering you a portal into a world of untapped possibility. Resources. Potential.
There'll be just such an opportunity on Monday, July 30, when we'll play the last show of our spectacular 2012 summer tour at the Lake Harriet Bandshell from 7:30 to 9:00PM. It's a free show, for all ages, at a great outdoor venue with ice cream, trolley rides, and--when we're there--just the right degree of musical patina. Please come and enjoy it with us!
Best wishes and love, Scott Yoho, Grand Pooh Bah, Knights of the Auto OrderReturn the Estimate Index...