I've always found it entertaining and somewhat enlightening to question "accepted truths". Oftentimes I've found that these accepted truths become so more out of repetition and indifference rather than any coherent thought process.
For starters, engine covers and "power parking". Engine covers: a piece of sheetmetal used to hide or disguise the engine, generally elaborately made and/or painted and detailed. Power parking: stationing your hot rod in a spot or location, generally near the front or main gate, at an event that's exposed to heavy foot traffic or heavily trafficked by cruising cars.
Really, do hot rods need their engines covered and do the owners really need to "power park"? Clearly there are those who do think they should. So, who am I to tell them that they shouldn't—correct, to each his own. However, we live in a world of unintended consequences and the fact that I have a keyboard at my disposal puts these actions squarely in my sight.
Engine covers while well intentioned, I think?, destroy everything that is the history, lineage, and birthright of any hot rod. A hot rod is by definition (at least mine) a car that has or is currently being modified to enhance its performance. Generally speaking performance begins under the hood and works its way through bigger and better brakes and handling performance. Afterward there is any number of other modifications that are both useful and fun to perform on our projects. But engine covers?!
Really, why would you want to spend a wallet full of money, invest copious amounts of time (and a fair amount of flesh from those freshly crunched knuckles), and self-sacrifice many other things you would like to enjoy so that your hot rod can look and perform at its best only to have admirers be so sorely disappointed when the hood is propped open? (Wow, that's a personal best for one long sentence!) Come on, shouldn't the motor resting between the 'rails and nestled beneath the hood be something you, and the rest of us, look longingly upon and gaze at in amazement?
I remember when the first engine covers arrived. OK, I was fascinated by the metalwork and the novelty. However, it didn't take long, definitely by day's end, that I and the engine cover had run our course. "What was the builder or owner trying to hide?" Was the engine poorly dressed, was it particularly ugly, or maybe it was the parking lot equivalent of the Exxon Valdez? Regardless I have always felt that the engine was and still is the heart and soul of any hot rod. This doesn't mean it has to be an over-the-top V-8 or an anemic four, it just means whatever you have residing under the hood should make you proud. Is it well cleaned and detailed? Is it hopped-up to some degree? Do you show it off with pride? That's a hot rod engine.
Lose the engine cover and spend more time detailing the four, inline-six, or bent eight into something all of us can admire and be proud of. Our hobby is steeped in the tradition of performance—and it all started under the hood for all to see!
OK, onto my next pet peeve, the power parker and the act of power parking. What is humorous about power parking is the lack of power that it requires from your hot rod to "power park". In fact, it takes little, if any, energy other than to get out of bed at an unlikable hour. This gives the professional power parker the time necessary to make sure he is the first to rush the gates and plant his flag (nowadays recycled revival tents) to make sure he and his buddies can gulp down their beverage of choice, suck down a double-double, cheese dripping, artery clogging, 30 percent fat burger three times a day for two days, all the while belching in unison as they watch the passing parade. Even I know when too much is too much! (Most of the time.)
It's been my experience that the cars typically anchored in the power parking sites, while nice cars, aren't necessarily the most interesting. To find the truly interesting cars and their owners one needs to scour the grounds.
I've often been asked, "How do you go about selecting cars for the Top 100 award?" Good question. And I tell everyone who asks this question the same answer. "I start at the fence farthest from the main entrance and work my way back." If history is any indicator, by the time I make my way to the midpoint off the grounds I've usually fulfilled my 10 picks."
This isn't to say there aren't worthy cars parked just inside the front gate because there are. I have 10 picks and they go quickly. I have found that those rodders who step away from the "maddening crowd" to be worthy individuals as are their cars. I have also found these individuals have, as a general statement, been involved in the hobby the longest and have the greatest of "back stories". Good, bad, or indifferent it's been my formula for many years and, as the saying goes, "If it works, don't fix it." (That reminds me of another of my favorite hot rod sayings and the credit for it goes to the senior rodder on staff Ron Ceridono: "A true hot rodder can tune anything until it doesn't run." I've always enjoyed that saying.)
OK, now it's your turn. All of you who are fans of the engine cover and power parking let me know. Give it your best shot, I can take it, as I am protected by a wall of doughnuts.