MAX Update No. 81: No Business Like Show Business

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/100-mpg-no-business-like-show-business.aspx

I regularly support my local Lions Club by attending their pancake breakfast before the Cave Junction Lions Club Annual Antique Classic Car Show. Once a year is regular support, right? Anyway, this year (the 13th Annual) I was talking with some folks at the registration tent and one of them said, “Why don’t you enter your car?”

“Because it’s not an antique and it’s not a classic,” I said.

“Well it looks like one,” she said.

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True enough. It looks like a 1959 Lola Mk1 more than it looks like anything else, but frankly, all the race cars of the late ’50s looked much the same. People guess, “What is that, a Jaguar D-Type?” or “Lotus 11?” or “Birdcage Maserati?” and once “an Osca?” because that’s the race car that caught their eye Back In The Day.

50 years later they still remember the name, and they remember it was low and small and swoopy and the fenders blended into the body in deep, voluptuous curves. What they don’t remember is that all the serious road racers looked like that back then. Racers didn’t have huge horsepower yet, and the role of race car aerodynamics (which dictated the body shape) was to reduce drag, and thus get the cars down the straightaways as fast as possible, despite their pipsqueak powerplants.

MAX’s body is also designed to reduce drag, so it can get down the straightaways at 55 mph with the pipsqueakiest power possible. Modern race cars don’t look like that at all, they have loads of power and their bodies are aerodynamically designed to hold their wheels firmly to the ground. Hence MAX looks decidedly old fashioned.

“Yeah, it looks like an antique,” I said, “but it’s not.”

So I parked outside and walked into the show to check out the deuces…

A deuce? That’s slang for a 1932 Ford Model B (’32 = thirty-deuce) hot rod. The Beach Boys sang a song about it (“She’s my little deuce coupe, etc. etc.”), and the rest is history. If you go to a car show nowadays, you’ll find replica deuce bodies on replica deuce chassis and they all say ’32 Ford on the entry form. I think deuces have become like People Who Went To Woodstock, or Navy SEALs That Served In ’Nam — I think there are more ’32 Fords today than there were in 1932.

So after confirming that looking like a ’59 Lola was just as valid as looking like a ’32 Ford (and confirming that the judging was over and done with) I registered MAX and drove to the last spot on the lawn in Jubilee Park. People love MAX at the eco-freako-green-machine events I’ve attended, but this was MAX’s first appearance at a traditional car show and I was curious how normal people would react.

In brief, the normies dug MAX as much as the greenies do, though for different reasons.

And now, for some gross generalizations: the kids thought it was Speed Racer (is that show still on TV?), the women thought it was darling (it is), the young women thought they’d look good in it (they would), men of middle age and up wanted to know if a small block Chevy V8 would fit in there (it won’t) and younger men wanted to know if a Honda K23 would fit (it’s a four-cylinder engine, so probably, but it’s going to need a big bulge in the hood). Most of the guys I talked with were focused on MAX’s potential as a performance car, and thought all it needed was a bigger engine

It was an interesting experience for me. Spectators come to classic car shows to dream about the past, and part of the dream for my generation is 29 cent gasoline, and dollar gasoline for those younger. But even the dreamers thought MAX was cool, and when they wake up some day and gas is $5 a gallon, they’ll think MAX is even cooler.

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P.S.: Despite (or perhaps because of) my tardy entry, MAX went home with the You Made It award. I wasn’t done making it, I was still getting MAX ready for the trip back east…but note the temporary spoiler mount. Maybe they were impressed by my use of green painter’s tape as a structural adhesive. Another feather in MAX’s cap; the local paper used a photo of MAX as the graphic for their car show story.

Maybe next year I should show up in time for the judging.


Photos by Jack McCornack 

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