We are not too far from the start of the 2012 car season although some of us car guys live in a place where spring is still a theory…


A warm and fuzzy theory-but definitely still in the conceptual stage here in the land of the ice and snow, to quote Led Zeppelin.


The 2012 car show season will unveil trends in the vintage vehicle scene and we want to drag out the crystal ball to discuss what will be hot this summer.



The smallest segment at every car show will continue to be survivor cars and we don’t need Spock’s logic to noodle out this one. Survivor vehicles have beaten tremendous odds to make it past the crusher. They may have been pampered by an original owner or forgotten and stored by an owner along the way. Either way, they have made an amazing journey into present day car world.




Some of the cars have worn the years well, while others have fallen prey to the ravages of time. The important part of the equation is the originality factor in the survivors. The TV car auction guys call it patina, presumably to sound more sophisticated, we just call it wear and tear.


A survivor car will still have all of its battle scars, although the fewer the battle scars, the higher the value of the vehicle.


The next smallest segment would be rat rods. These stripped-down tributes to the lean look of the 50s hot rod scene are still a pretty hot point of interest for car guys. The rat rods can offer an affordable entry level ride right up to a very expensive ride that only looks like it was built on a tight budget.


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The rat rod culture has grown into a solid part of every car show and shows few signs of easing up on the gas pedal in the future world of the car guy culture.


Restored vehicles are always a solid part of the car show scene. These rides typically reflect an emotional attachment to their vehicle, usually with a family or personal emotional link to the past.




The current owners take great pains to bring the car back to its original roots. The process can be costly and time-consuming to the owner, but the real value to the owner is the experience of time behind the wheel of a cherished vehicle in its original state.


The important part of the equation is the original factor. The owners want their vehicles to have the same feel and engineering found on them when they originally left the dealership. Armstrong steering, single master brake cylinders, vacuum wipers, three on the tree-they want all of the period-correct components of the vehicle.


The owners want that blast-from-the-past time machine feel to be complete with an authentic vehicle from a bygone era-with a shiny and new look on the old girl.


The biggest vehicle component of the 2012 car show season will continue to be resto-mods and customs. The sky is the limit when it comes to this category because there are a tremendous number of variables in the equation.



Some car guys want a complete transformation from stock-looking to a wild custom job that makes a bold personal fashion statement for the owner. It might even make a bold statement on the street because the owner may have put a mega-horsepower monster under the hood-if there even is a hood.


Other resto-mods are wolves in sheep’s clothing-stock looking and powered by insane excess horsepower with a raging bull of a power-train under the old wool. These guys just like the enticing combination of an old school skin as a disguise for a merciless street killer.


So we dream about the new season for car shows here in the last days of winter.


It is a very pleasant dream that helps remedy severe signs of cabin fever.


Jim Sutherland

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