Every now and again, the things around me converge into a picture, a landscape view of our hobby and the industry that is both created and supported by it. It's part the stories I'm working on, part developments in the industry, and part just the everyday news of the world. What really seems to trigger it, however, is when I get to go out and have a good look at what's actually happening, what people are actually building and doing in the hobby.
Just looking at the day-to-day grind, it would be easy to decide that things aren't looking good at all, much less for the classic car hobby. Despite the recent easing, gas prices are still brutal, and news of impending economic disaster abounds. On the other hand, if my recent trip to the Goodguys PPG Nationals at Columbus, Ohio, is any indication, the hobby is alive and kicking.
Yes, it seemed like more people had their cars up for sale. On the other hand, plenty of average guys still want to get out there and drive and show off their cars, and pro builders are still producing high-end cars with fantastic fit and finish. These rides have loads of horsepower, of course, but what really stood out is the attention being paid to handling and braking. All-around performance continues to be an attractive proposition.
Not that horsepower is losing its fascination factor in any way, shape, or form. Sure, that's easy to figure given the mondo powerplants, often of the LSx variety, found in the top cars being built around the country. But in this very issue, we've got a 327 making 500 hp and throwing out a broad, usable torque band to boot. And believe it or not, "mpg" was even mentioned as an advantage to this build. Amazing.
Speaking of amazing, of course the most incredible development is the battery of muscle coming out of GM in the next year or so. The Camaro is finally coming, and it's packing 400-plus horsepower. Then check out the LS9, all 638 hp of it, that'll be powering the new ZR1 Corvette. Even as gloom and doom is proclaimed throughout the land, horsepower and performance are reaching new highs. I don't know what it all means or what will happen in the future, but I will say this much-the next snapshot sure should be interesting.
At first she just stood there and I couldn't quite figure out if that was a good thing or a bad thing. She stood in perfect silence and refused to breathe. Her eyes like dinner plates and her jaw resting on the floor of the shop. In my case, that's usually a sign of bad things to come. Way to mess this one up, Sean. She's going to be bored out of her skull, I thought to myself. I figured her next statement was going to fall along the lines of, Are we done? Can we go yet? But, to my astonishment, she completely surprised me. She didn't turn and demand to be driven home immediately. No, instead she began firing away like a machine gun. What's this? What does this do? How does this work? What's this switch do? Does it have a parachute? Can I sit in it? It was a barrage of questioning that I wasn't quite prepared for and neither were the guys who were working on the race car-slammin' it together for this weekend's race in Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. I was shocked, to say the least. I knew she was into cars, but hey, we've all heard that one before, right?