mechanic

     You do not have to be a mechanic to enjoy cars and trucks. When you take on a project building, a hot rod, custom, truck or street machine it certainly helps to have a basic understanding of the mechanics of the automobile.

    The more you do yourself helps to keep the cost down and adds to the satisfaction knowing that you did it yourself. Some people are just naturally mechanically inclined, others enrolled in secondary schools that offered automotive courses. Another great way to learn was to hang around with your father and grandfather. In the fifties and sixties usually both or at least one of them had worked in the automotive sector. Unfortunately, I did not attend a secondary school that offered an automotive course plus I never met my father or grandfather. But not all was lost, magazines like Rod and Custom, Hot Rod and Car Craft had how-to-do articles with informative pictures. People that know me would be the first to acknowledge that I was not mechanically inclined and encourage me to stay away from power tools before I hurt myself. My career of choice, architecture, was about the furthest career away from automobiles. In my teens I hung around with car guys and we eventually formed a car club. Most of the guys could take things apart and put them back together, fabricate what they needed, weld and paint. Obtaining a clubhouse and putting all this talent together with the required equipment and tools and an individual like myself we had no problem in putting a hot rod together. In the early days activities for car clubs were limited. No NSRA, GoodGuys, Canadian Street Rod Nationals or cruise nights. You cruised Main Street with stops at the local fast-food joint to be see and hang out with your buddies. On Sundays, a trip to a drag strip, Deseronto, St Thomas, and Cayuga etc. were common and indoor car shows were just starting. As a club activity the Kontinentals Rod and Custom Club started to participate in indoor car shows. We would enter a club display usually with a minimum of four vehicles. Having a club house and putting together club displays meant costs.

       When the two clubs amalgamated to form Motor City Car Club, we decided to hold an indoor show of our own to raise funds to help cover our costs of operating a car club. An arena was rented, 50 vehicles were put on display and the rest is history. Believe me it was not a money maker, but it turned out to be a tremendous learning curve that laid the foundation for the future.  M.C.C.C. is still hosting a car show today. Now back to ‘you don’t have to be a mechanic’ when the club decided to participate in an indoor show with a club display the first thing on the agenda was to form a committee. The committee would decide on a theme, number of vehicles and establish a budget. The budget would be presented to the membership for approval. Somehow, I always seemed to be on the committee, and I wondered if this was a way for the members to keep me out of the shop. When we put a display together it was always something that we could be proud of and maybe win a Display Award (cash) that would help cover some of the costs. This philosophy of being proud of what we were doing carried over to when we started our own indoor shows. The club soon realized that to be successful you must be organized, professional and treat your Exhibitors as you liked to be treated.

      Serving on these committees made me realize that there was another side to the hot rod community that would allow the mechanically challenged to stay involved. Now was I not only driving my hot rod, but I was dealing with city officials, building owners, celebrities, vendors and car owners like yourself and other promoters. It did not happen overnight.

As a teenager the Chev and DeSoto really impressed me and I was hooked. I took these pictures with my trusted Brownie. I did meet the owners of the DeSoto it belonged to a construction worker  that was working on Donovan Collegiate on Harmony road in Oshawa and the 55 was sitting on a side street by Gratiots Auto Supply in Detroit.

                                                                                                                                           For now,

                                                                                                                                                         Gary Challice

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