For the classic car enthusiast, the 2012 Hot Rods and Hot Dogs show in the parking lot of The Vienna Beef Company at 2510 N. Damen Ave. on Sunday, September 23, was an event not to be missed. Owners and admirers came out to see classically restored and tricked out rides that appealed to both the purist and to the person who likes a little bling with their wheels. Everything from an Avanti to a Rolls Royce, Mustangs to Chevys, and several trucks and jeeps, as well as a few of indeterminate origin had admirers inspecting paint jobs and interiors, wheels and engines, and chatting up the owners to find out more about the car. And to further set the mood, music from the Shirelles, Bobby Vinton, The Supremes, and other 60’s groups filled the air and had more than a few singing along as they reminisced about days gone by.
There’s something about a classic car show that has us waxing nostalgic. These cars bring back memories of drive-in theaters and soda fountains. Some may have thought about how they had worked hard and painstakingly saved to purchase their first car. Others may have remembered how they carried home their firstborn child from the hospital. Whatever the memories they evoke, there is an emotional bond between people and their cars: unlike a house or almost anything else you purchase, your car often is a reflection of who you are or who you want to be.
Most of the cars that were shown are of another era, another generation, a different time. They are of a time when Detroit was king of the auto industry and everything was big and bold and heavy. A time when bumpers were made of chrome and gas mileage was not even measured. These cars – the Buicks, the Chevys, and the grandaddy of the big luxury cars, the Cadillacs, ruled the road. When you drove down the street in your Caddy, people stopped and looked. You were envied and admired…you had made it. There were more Chevys than any other model at the show…probably because we all wanted to ‘see the USA in our Chevrolet.” And the owners of these cars have restored them meticulously, showcasing their beauty and allowing those of us who love these cars and remember when they were common sights to take a trip down memory lane. Even the owners who are not of the generation where the car was king have a healthy and loving respect for these motorized chariots. These cars are gems of the automotive industry and have inspired a generation of new cars – the PT cruiser and the HHR to name two. But the day of these mansions on wheels is over, and so the classic car buff loving owns and maintains what will never be again.
And not to slight the European car makers, there were plenty of those cars being shown as well; a red Avanti, a while Rolls Royce, an Aston Martin. Back in the day owning a foreign car was rare and those that did own one were usually wealthy and thought to be quite sophisticated.
Hot Rods and Hot Dogs is more than a chance to show off your car. It is a place memories are revived and car lovers meet to pay homage to an industry that once ran the world, fed a nation and took us to places in class and style.