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Many of us take our remaining vacation days during the holidays. This is a good time to visit an automobile museum. The weather can often be nasty and unless you're into winter sports there isn't a whole lot to do. We're lucky to have several motoring museums within easy driving distance. Nearby there's the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum in Cleveland, the Canton Classic Car Museum in Canton and the National Packard Museum in Warren. If you're willing to drive a bit further there's the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, IN, the National Studebaker Museum in South Bend, IN and the Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. Also located in metropolitan Detroit is the National Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn and the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, MI. Also located in metro Detroit is the last Hudson dealership-Miller Motors Hudson and the Automotive Heritage Museum in Ypsilanti, MI. If you're into motorcycles the Motorcyle Museum and Hall of Fame is located in Pickerington, OH. For racing aficionados there's the Indianapolis 500 Hall of Fame and Museum in Indianapolis. If you go to Indianapolis check out the restored Stutz automobile factory, which now houses several businesses. One of the newest museums is dedicated solely to the Hudson automobile; the Eldon Hostetler Collection and it's located in Shipshewana, IN. Now, did I miss any of your favorites?
The sad state of the American auto industry has been in the headlines for the past few months but the fact is that it has been in decline for decades.
The most obvious reminders of this are various abandoned car factories, especially in the Detroit area. The sad state of these once-majestic architectural tributes to a former world leading industry is an eery foreshadow of what the big 2 1/2 are experiencing. Follow the link for a little history and some current photos of five historic former car factories.
I was looking at today's ohio.com classifieds (doesn't everyone?) and noticed something that I found very interesting. There were only ten listings in the "Antique and Classic" cars for sale section. Within those ten listings, only six had cars that were actually for sale. The other four were offering services such as chrome plating or promoting events such as future swap meets.
As a contrast to the six ads with antique cars for sale, ohio.com today has thirteen classified listings for towing companies that will come and pick up your old for free. Some of these overly generous individuals will even pay you scrap value for your old car. What a deal!
During these winter months many of us use that time to perform not just maintenance on our collector cars but restoration work, as well. Paying someone to work on your car can become very expensive very quickly. I've learned the importance of not only getting an estimate from the restorer but maintaining regular communications. An estimate is just that-an estimate. Restoring old cars isn't like have work done on your modern car, where mechanics can pretty much follow the book. When it comes to old cars there can be plenty of surprises as things are taken apart. I know; I've been there. I would add 20% to whatever a restorer tells you and expect more. And, if this is a long-term project, there should be monthly billing with details on work performed, parts purchased, etc. It should go without saying that a car owner must do his/her homework before choosing a restorer. It's not just enough to see the restorer's work. And, remember, a car restoration is a partnership between the owner and restorer. Both parties must be candid and honest with one another and, again, communicate clearly. There's a shared responsibility. I've seen this work out well-and, unfortunately, not so well.
I know it's always better to give than to receive, but receiving a special treat every once in a while is pretty nice too. Even though many people have tightened their budgets on holiday giving this year, cool gifts for car guys* are available in all shapes, colors, sizes and price ranges. Of course, a new car is the ultimate gift but tools, accessories and even services like detailing are sure to make any enthusiast happy.
Automotive lifestyle gifts are the latest hot trend. Everything from reproductions of vintage shop rags to motorized four legged stools are available. Last year, my kids got me a coat rack with different shift levers as hanging pegs. It's useful and brings a smile to my face every time I see it. Typically, these types of things were only available the specialty catalogs but Summit Racing has recently picked up a wonderful line of these products. If you haven't been to their flagship store in Tallmadge, you really owe it to yourself to take a visit. Just make sure to budget a couple hours to browse the amazing variety of products they have to offer.
It's the holiday time and people find reasons to get together and celebrate the season. As a lifelong car guy, I've found that car people make their own reasons to get together all year long, even in our less than ideal climate.
Of course, in the summer, we have shows and cruise-ins and all types of racing. In addition to these events, I have found that there's an abundance of casual, semi-organized and even formal breakfast/lunch/evening get-togethers of car people year round in our area. Some are based through established car clubs but many are just a group of enthusiasts who enjoy each others' company and convene to tell lies, umm, I mean share stories about cars. These things take place in dive bars, fancy restaurants, corner repair shops or just someone's garage (heated of course).