Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Bronco returns, and a salute to the Hirsch Autos of the world

Nice that it all went to plan today. I picked up my new trailer tires, went over to my old place of employment ( Latondrus Auto World ), refreshed my memory on using the tire mounting machine, got them on the trailer, and I was off and running. Today was one of those days when I was glad I didn't trade my enclosed trailer for that really nice open lightweight aluminum one, as I nearly did several years ago. Something about the fact that it was pouring rain most of the day here and the Bronco is not only an open vehicle but doesn't have a top to its name. Did I mention Gary was from southern California? I can tell you with great confidence that where I was born and raised, you had a top for your vehicle no matter what it was. 

       My friends and my boss would laugh out loud if they heard me say this, because they've been hearing it for the past couple of months, but we really are getting close now. This time it's as true as that statement can be. I mean, when you're running out of things to do you're getting close. Simple as that. The carpet looks great in the truck and was an excellent choice made by Gary. His instructions were, find a really high quality, almost felt-like, black, Mercedes kind of carpet. Fortunately for me we still have people left in the hobby like Bill Hirsch. Hirsch Auto has been the gold standard source in our hobby, for a lot longer than I've been alive, for quality interior fabrics. Whether you're doing a Duesenberg for Pebble Beach or a hot rod, Bill Hirsch has what you need. What I could never say enough about is the kind of old world service I got from him when ordering this material. Yes, I meant to say him. When was the last time you called a business and not only didn't get an automated service from the down beat, but were instantly speaking with the person whose name is on the catalogue? Really, try and remember. I know I can't. 

      That simple happening when placing the order really made my day. I guess I'm funny this way but, I enjoy speaking with people who are completely knowledgeable about what they're selling. Even with what I'm sure was an exceedingly vague description ( more musician speak than restorer ) of what I was looking for, I quickly got an,"Oh yeah, I know what you're looking for... we've got that in stock." - Hirsch Auto part number MB21 for anyone who cares. I told him the size of the inside tub of the truck and he told me what I should need to cover it, I placed the order, he told me off the top of his head when it would arrive ( he was spot on by the way ), and we were done. Just like that. 

     Again, I don't know what this says about me. Old soul? I've certainly been called that before. Nostalgic for another time? Definitely. And I'm not talking big idea "we need to go back to what we were like in WW2" nostalgia, not that that isn't a fine idea in some ways, I just mean a basic humans helping humans existence. Sorry, but I have to quote Dennis Miller here and say,"Now I don't want to go off on a rant here but..." It just reminded me of when I first took on my own projects as a teenager and would end up thumbing through my Dad's Hemmings Motor News until I found the number to call for whatever part or service I needed. Half the fun was talking to the guy who answered the phone who was usually running a small business out of his home, was a car guy just like you, except that he'd been around the block a lot more and would share his knowledge with you as you were in the middle of a project that he'd done a hundred times.

     Discovering that, in the Hemmings community of my youth, was a great early lesson about the hobby and it not being just the parts and the projects and the cars, but the people. I'm not saying that world is gone, because it's not. I still deal with a lot of individuals who are out there keeping the faith and doing business in a personal way, but I can't help but notice that that kind of service is slowly tapering off. I'm also not saying that I don't have consistently good dealings with businesses like Summit, because I do. It's just different. 

     It makes me think back to my local NAPA store when I was a teenager. First of all, I knew every person who worked there by name, and most of them were builders, restorers, or were car enthusiasts in general, and they knew me and knew what I drove. There were no computers on the counter and when I asked for a part it was very rare that they ever had to flop the giant parts book out onto the counter. It usually went like this... "Hey Steve, I need a set of valve cover gaskets for a small block Chevy." No exaggeration, somewhere in between the word small and block, Steve would start to turn away from the counter and would head back into the parts shelves. Halfway to where my gaskets were you'd hear him say,"Yeah, we got those." 

     Fast forward twenty plus years and this is how it usually goes for me...  "Hi. I need a set of valve cover gaskets for a small block Chevy." While talking on a cell phone, a completely uninterested teenage kid asks,"What year?", I say,"Well, to be honest, it doesn't really matter, but lets say a '79." The kid then pecks around on the keyboard, looks up at me, and asks,"Does it have air conditioning?"

     It just makes me appreciate people like Bill Hirsch that much more. 

 PS;  Sorry for the poor quality photos of the Bronco's new carpet... camera troubles that I couldn't seem to fix. 

Also, a great big thanks to follower SS62 who posted a stunning top 25 list in the comments section of the Nov 24 post( actually two ) that you just have to check out. 






No comments: