We are visited by Sam Fiorani, who has a background as an automotive salesman, author, show judge, industry forecaster and museum board member. We find out how to make a profit on an Austin Healey in less than a week. How does the automotive industry find out who is making how many of which product and when? Who makes the motors in today’s hybrids and EV’s? What does the ICE to EV changeover curve look like? What are the strangest doors ever seen on a production vehicle (hint: it’s not Lamborghini.) What is in the Boyertown Museum of Historic Automobiles? Did Maytag make both appliances and cars? Why might one need OEM assembly line booties? In trivia, we find out about flip-up headlamps. All this and more…
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Have you ever wandered around a car
show, looking at all the cool cars, wishing that you could be one of
the judges? That you could help determine who gets to take home
those shiny trophies? I recently had that honour, and I’m here to
tell you- it’s not as easy as it looks.
Recently, The Thing About Cars was
contacted by the organisers of the Mountain City Mayhem Festival, who
invited us to provide a judge for the festival’s car show. After
some discussion among the TTAC team, it became apparent that I was
the only one who was available that day. So I volunteered, eager to
add show-judging to my growing list of automotive experiences. Look
at a bunch of cars and evaluate them in a competition? This should
The day finally arrived. I had
recently done a bunch of electrical work to my trusty BMW mo’orsickle
and was eager to road-test that stuff, so I threw a leg over the
saddle and told the GPS to take me to the small-town airport where
the show was to be. I mention this because I arrived at a car show,
noted that some cool cars were present, and found a text message from
fellow TTACer Mickey, who said he was by the stage. What stage?
There was an EZ-up with a band set-up under it, but Mickey wasn’t
near it. After some asking, I learned that I was at the wrong show!
A kind person informed me that the show I wanted was on the other
side of the airport. Back into my gear, back on the bike, and around
the airport. Too bad all those cars weren’t at the same show!
Finding the Mountain City Mayhem Festival on the other side of the
airport was no problem, although everybody there was so nice that I’m
left wondering where the mayhem was. Maybe I should come back after
midnight to see it? That will remain a mystery for now.
I found the guy in charge, got the
basic rundown, and we had to find the other two judges. Once
everybody was there, we got the judging forms and clipboards and were
turned loose. There were thirty-five cars to judge, and each needed
a form filled out. The form had basic information at the top: the
car number, which was found on a slip on the dashboard (or tucked
under the seat of the two motorcycles in the show), and fields for
make/model and class. The classes were things like Domestic, Import,
Truck, Classic, Motorcycle. Then we had to give 1-10 points on body,
paint, interiour, engine compartment, and tires/wheels, and then
there was one more field for extra points for dual class (e.g.
Classic and Domestic) or whatever bonus-points we wanted to assign.
I had some fun with that last field.
The first thing I did was to walk up
and down the line and just give everything an initial glance so I’d
have an idea of the overall field of entries. They ran the gamut
from a first-generation Mazda 3 with tired paint and no discernible
custom-touches beyond a sticker, to a fully show-worthy 1963 Impala
with tons of chrome under the bonnet and custom leather inside.
There was an early ’50s GMC truck that was immaculately restored
without being over-restored, four or five old Toyota pickups
converted into lowriders in desperate need of paint, a Suzuki GSXR
600 that bore some battle-scrapes, an old Dodge truck with faded,
patina-ridden paint carefully protected under matte clearcoat, an
immaculate ’57 Chevy, and so on- you get the idea.
After my once-over, it was time to get
down to business and start filling out 35 forms. Time to start
giving one to ten points in six categories, thirty-five times.
Anywhere from 210 to 2100 possible points to allocate. How do I do
it? The first one seemed easy, then it felt trickier, then as I
became aware that I needed to finish them in time for the tallying,
it felt like pressure. On top of that, it’s really subjective.
REALLY. Subjective enough that I started to envy the concours judges
at the prestigious events, because they have solid criteria for
originality and authenticity to guide them. On top of that, I needed
to try to make it somewhat objective too, so that I could judge
fairly. A certain car might not be my personal taste, but it
deserved a fair shake. Regardless of style, the owners put a lot of
effort into their vehicles. Then there’s the fact that I’ve been a
car-nut all my life, which means a certain amount of my own jadedness
that I had to be careful with. And how do you fairly judge both a
dead-stock car and one that has been highly modified, in the same
contest? How do you give everybody a fair chance, especially when
some show up with working-class daily drivers and some show up with
cars worth more than the guys with the daily drivers make in three or
four years? And on top of that, I’m inherently enough of a nice guy
that I want to be generous with the points for every car. I know
what you’re saying, it’s just a small-town car show that doesn’t mean
much in the grand scheme of things. Why get so deep into it? Why?
Because I’m a car-nut, and I want to make my fellow car-people happy.
In the aforementioned grand scheme of things, this is a hobby for
most of the people involved. Hobbies are supposed to be fun. I want
everybody to have fun. Therefore, I wish I could make everybody a
winner. But it’s a judged show, and I was there to judge. There
weren’t enough trophies for everyone. So I had to make choices. It
was difficult, but I managed. And on top of that, it was HOT out
there, and I had to juggle my clipboard and pen and a big cup of
lemonade. The ice melted quickly.
But I got through it, and I’m glad to say that I only overheard one person trying to make me overhear them about bribes. They mentioned dropping some twenties on the ground around their car. I pretended not to hear them and went about my business. There were a few buckets of candy by some of the cars, but I’m trying to watch my sugar-intake so it was lost on me. Nice try, although I wonder if it got more votes from the kids for the Kids Choice Trophy. The few owners with whom I came into contact were very nice, and that’s one of the things I love about being into cars: the people. I can say the same thing about the motorcycling world, but we’re talking about cars here. I’ve had great conversations with people of all socio-economic levels who just plain love their cars. From the guy with whom I worked years ago who felt a close kinship and devotion to his somewhat beat Geo Prizm that had seen him through thick in thin to the guy who brought a truly gorgeous 1963 Ferrari to a recent show, they’re all great people who love to commune with other car-lovers. But back to business.
The people in charge were already
tallying when I turned in my forms, and I made a lot more work for
them. As it turns out, the other two judges skipped a bunch of cars.
I don’t know how, but they did. So I guess that means that my
judging was even more influential on who got the trophies. If I had
a bigger ego, I’d be proud of that. The tallying got done and the
winners were announced. Several people won two trophies, and I’m
happy to say that two trophies were decided by children. One was the
Kids Choice Award, and the other was the Queen’s Choice Award, given
by the Marble Queen and Princess, a high school kid and elementary
school kid, respectively. I assume the marble in question was the
rock rather than the game, since the local business association had
something to do with the festival. The winners were happy with their
trophies, everybody had a good time, and the lemonade sure was good.
Not a bad day.
So the next time you find yourself at a
judged car show, have some sympathy for the judges. It’s hard work.
Friends, we have a couple of car shows on our calendar, and we hope you’ll join us at each event. We might even be recording an episode or two on-site.
Italian Car Day Atlanta is set for Saturday, March 2nd, 2019, 10AM to 3PM at Lillian Webb Park, Norcross, GA. The show invites all Italian brands of cars, motorcycles & Italian scooters. Concours, classic or daily driver, your Italian car is welcome! French cars are also invited to join in the fun!
On March 30 we’re planning to go to the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival for their C5 Car Show. There is no cost to register a car, and space is limited, so if you’re going to register a car, it’s highly recommended you pre-register. See their website for more information. Awards will be presented for Best of Show, and First through Third places by popular vote.
Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama is set for Saturday April 27 to Sunday April 28 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. We’re looking forward to the swap-meet, all the vendors, and (of course) all the cool cars to see. Will you be showing your car? Pre-registration for Motorama closes on March 25th. Before March 25, registration is $35 per vehicle. After the 25th, registration jumps to $50. We’re looking forward to seeing you there. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information about our visit to Motorama.