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Old 11-30-2014, 10:41 PM   #1
steven321
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Default Can the Model A hobby survive?

I'm a newbie to the Model A hobby (31 Tudor) although I have owned many many other classic & muscle cars. I may be somewhat unusual in the Model A hobby in that I am a Baby Boomer yet have close ties with the Busters, Gen Xers, and Millenials, both at work and socially. I have also been involved in bringing change to old, entrenched institutions that didn't particularly want to change, yet were forced to by the changing culture.
Now it's not rocket science for those concerned about the future of the Model A hobby to understand that most of those involved are in their 60s and up, and that younger folks MUST become involved or the end of the hobby is only a matter of a few years passage.
Here are some random observations upon recently getting involved in the Model A hobby that may (or may not) be useful. I hope they are at least interesting and will provoke discussion.

I joined both of the major Model A "clubs" (MAFCA & MARC) by signing up online. MARC took 3 weeks and two additional phone contacts by me in order to confirm that I had in fact joined and paid the dues. Both times the respondent acknowledged that my info was there but they had just not acted on it. MAFCA sent a "snail-mail" letter about a week after I joined. Several months down the road I have yet to get either magazine, and have had ZERO contact electronically (e-mail, text, etc.) from either organization. I see that only one of the clubs has any presence on social media.
My point? Folks of my generation will MAYBE tolerate this kind of response to a new member....the newer generations most decidedly will NOT. They will invest their time ad money elsewhere.

All the forums that I have looked at so far (including this one) follow this pattern; someone makes a comment or asks a question, and the discussion devolves into personal attacks, name-calling, politics, etc. or it is dominated by the same few experts talking to each other. Or, there are endless discussions among the same few about minute and obscure details that almost no one cares about.
A few in my generation and older enjoy this kind of combative interaction, but most do not. Younger generations most assuredly do NOT, and will quickly back away.

Now, I enjoy my restored 31 Tudor. However, it's no secret that original cars are slooowww, hard to drive and shift, have no sound system, vibrate a lot, are somewhat unsafe, etc. etc. Very little there to attract newer generations without some kind of revolutionary changes in the way the hobby operates. Probably changes that are going to be unacceptable or at best uncomfortable for most in the hobby today.

These are just my impressions and opinions, for what they are worth. Certainly not the last word on the subject. I hope I can provoke some discussion and ideas about the future of the hobby.
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

I'm not all that concerned about the future, I'm enjoying the present. My kids will sell Sarah, I won't be around anymore to enjoy her. They might sell it on to another interested in keeping her as is and then again, they might sell her to some young kid who would chop her into a muscle car and change her name from Sarah to Sam.

I joined MAFCA, thought it my duty to join, I had to call a week later to confirm my membership also. My magazine did arrive, I've read it. I have patience..............most of the time.

I've found most all here helpful and sometimes entertaining with their jocularity, a few have found me irritating....different strokes for different folks but we all have one thing in common....Model A Fords.
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

As you know, this is a very controversial topic. Most discussions concluding that this hobby is on the decline. There are many reasons, lots you have already listed. I don't see a true sollution to this issue. Times are changing, young people don't enjoy Model A's for lack of speed and other reasons already listed.

I'm 15 years old and I'm very involved in my local Model A club. I look forward to meeting up with everyone on Wednesday nights to work on the projects at hand. I dream of the day I'll have the money to afford my first Model A. I enjoy everything about them.

Everyone needs to reach out to their friends and family who enjoy cars and get them involved. That's the only way I see this hobby surviving.
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

Some good points. I will give my opinion based on my kids interest in the hobby. My kids are 25 and 19. After being "dragged" to car shows for years, and being exposed to the street rod scene, my kids did not develop an interest in model A's until we began to compete in rallies and do some touring. They are much more interested in actually using the cars and the "experience" of spending time on the back roads than they are in becoming associated with an organized club. Perhaps there are two issues. This first being the future of MARC and MAFCA. The other, the future of Model A's. If MARC and MAFCA do not recognize that we old farts are not going to last forever and become relevant to the younger generation, my theory is that the Model A will continue to have a future with a generation that relate to very active use of their Model A's and probably will tastefully modify the cars for dependability. Now, I hear that the Model T Ford Club has managed to attract itself to the younger generation. Perhaps a member to that club could help us understand why younger people seem to be attracted to Model T's

Attached picture of my son have a blast in a model A - one of his favorite things to do.
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

What part of the hobby are you talking about?

Stock
Modified
Hot rod
Fine point

These are separate branches or the model a tree.

This site was started as a place to go for restoration of the Model A. While side bars happen occasionally, the main thrust is stock restoration. You can look up the site owners comments on the purpose of the site.

Now lets take a look at some specifics in your comments,

"...there are endless discussions among the same few about minute and obscure details that almost no one cares about."

As mentioned above this forum was founded on restoration.

"...it's no secret that original cars are slooowww, hard to drive and shift, have no sound system, vibrate a lot, are somewhat unsafe, etc. etc. "

I have been luck enough to drive in a properly restored Model A. They start easy, steer easy, the lights are bright, they stop easy, and they go 60+ MPH.

Yes there is no built in sound system but some are happy listening to the music of the car. Safe, there is different aspects of safe. The safest cars are the cars built today.

As for "attacks" when ones long held beliefs are questioned there is often hostility. It is hard to defend ones self when all you have to go by is "that's the way I have always done it." It is easier when you have others that do it the same way. One must realize that there is more then one way to skin a cat.

Again there are different aspects of the model A hobby. One needs to find what they want to do and find the source of help that fits that need. There are a whole lot of people here with all kinds of experience in many areas of the hobby. There are sites that specialize in some areas and site for other areas. Those that enjoy text book restorations have a limited source of online resources and and tend to go a little overboard in defending this site. There is another site that used to be the number one place to go, politics, name calling and the like have turned it into a ghost town. If it were not for one poster, the site would go weeks without anything new.

Enjoy your A, seek out and drive a truly restored one and you will see that alot of the notions you have are a little off.

I hope I did not offend you with this post.
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

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1. Many of your points are valid.
2. Many young people cannot afford to mess with Model As because the costs are thru the roof compared to later muscle cars, etc. For example, you can buy 2 crate SBC for what an A rebuild will run you
3. There are some young people that are becoming active
4. Yes speed is an issue for many younger people, and there are ways to make them go faster, but you gotta have some bucks to get a Mitchell, change out the rear end, get a better head and cam to go with all this, etc. In other words we are right back to dollars again
5. I do not think the future will be all that bad to the A hobby. Interest in Model Ts on the other hand has fallen way off because of HP, speed, safety, small size, etc. I am optimistic that the A will fare better.
6. This paragraph, however, is a gross generalization and does this valuable forum a grave disservice:

All the forums that I have looked at so far (including this one) follow this pattern; someone makes a comment or asks a question, and the discussion devolves into personal attacks, name-calling, politics, etc. or it is dominated by the same few experts talking to each other. Or, there are endless discussions among the same few about minute and obscure details that almost no one cares about.

There are many many experienced people on here giving good advice from years of experience. It is being soaked up by the newcomers. In fact there was a very recent thread by a poster thanking the pros on here. You should take the time to look at all the comments it generated. Some of the pros have upwards of 15 thousand posts. These are people who are knowledgeable and passionate about Model As. They do not deserve to be painted with this brush.

My nephew, 24, has 4 antique cars including an A he is totally restoring. He is also active in Auto-cross with his 6 cyl manual tranny Lexus and does well there. He is also on the Lexus forum, which is clearly mostly 20-30 yr-olds. . He says the same thing about that forum. Many very knowledgeable posters and many more who are lost mechanically who are seeking help. The help they need is offered, but not always taken. No different from any other public forum. Users are not required to take a mechanical aptitude test or a personality assessment screening. Forums mean different things to different people. They are, after all, still very much alive and well.
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Old 11-30-2014, 11:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

I agree the hobby will definitely survive, I think it'll evolve a little, I'm one of the younger members of my club (21) but there are a few children or grandchildren of older members that are taking interest in the hobby, and I do agree with mike as far as the shortcomings you have mentioned, my car felt drive able, but to me "old", with less than stellar suspension and steering etc. But since I've had my car, adding original shocks that had been missing, replacing a worn 7 tooth box with an early and correct and rebuilt 2 tooth, along with going through the ignition and reverting back to 6 volt and point ignition, I feel very safe in my car, and drive it without hesitation, day or night, rain or shine, and just approach it as one would a motorcycle, drive 5 steps ahead of everyone and know your limits and that the general public on the road is not aware of your limits. That mindset has given me a little over 1500 safe miles in the last two years.

I will say though, being introduced to model a's before I was introduced to the clubs, I was hesitant until I knew a few people in the local clubs and then joined. I was and continue to be blown away at how welcomed I've been and how selflessly helpful everyone has been to never hesitate to share knowledge and experience, and I am eager to return the favor as I become more knowledgeable.

Overall though, I think a large part of my current generation are a lot less mechanically inclined, or interested, although I recieve a lot of interest and questions when I drive it to school, and I always oblige any questions, or give rides, and people are always impressed with how driveable and capable the car is in modern non-freeway traffic. I think model a's will definitely be around for quite awhile, at least mine will for sure!
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Old 12-01-2014, 12:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

This has been discussed in detail. The threads at the links below may address your question.

https://www.fordbarn.com/forum/showthread.php?t=146389
https://www.fordbarn.com/forum/showthread.php?t=148268
https://www.fordbarn.com/forum/showthread.php?t=128704
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Old 12-01-2014, 12:16 AM   #9
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

Or, there are endless discussions among the same few about minute and obscure details that almost no one cares about.

A quick sort of the forum by "Replies" reveals over 14 pages worth of topics that have received 50+ replies. I think this reveals a strong level of engagement beyond "the same few", after discounting the multiple contributions by this group.

I don't see postings by "the same few" as a negative in any sense. As a newer member, I soon sorted out who seemed to be highly regarded around here and actively seek out their responses, while keeping in mind that old adage about various ways to skin a cat. Many of these people have contributed to greatly expanding my knowledge of my car and I, too, thank them for this.

If a post is based on "obscure details that no-one cares about", the members vote with their feet by not reading. So be it. Move on. New topic! There's plenty more to choose from!

Forum members are all big people and have the freedom to chip in whenever they wish. They are also protected by whatever degree of anonymity they choose to utilise.

I can't see any reason why a forum member should feel disengaged or disinclined to post/reply.

Lastly, as to the future of the Model A hobby? Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn! I'm here for the here and now! Like 31 Model A (Post 2), my kids aren't interested and will probably sell my car when I'm gone. I don't have control over that, and there are plenty more things of greater importance in the world to worry about.

The world changes. The way I see it, many/most "old car people" seem to be interested in something that harks back to their own childhood (I'm an exception to the rule), so many collectors these days are getting into 60s and 70s cars that, despite a passing interest, I have absolutely no desire to preserve.

I do know this - whatever they do now or in the future is not going to interfere with the enjoyment I get from my beautiful '28 Phaeton!! That's enough for me and I'm going to keep driving it as long as I'm able. After that . . . .???
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Old 12-01-2014, 12:27 AM   #10
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

To Be, or Not to Be . . . . that is the question.

Lots of threads on this forum illustrate the pluses and minuses of many subjects: Electronic Ignition vs. Stock Ford Distributor; Alternator vs. Stock Generator; Stromberg/Weber Carb. vs. Stock Zenith Carburetor; Hydraulic (and ‘Flat Head Ted”) vs. Stock Mechanical Breaks; 12 Volt vs. Stock 6 Volt electrical system; 16” wheels/tires (from 1935) vs. Stock 19”/21” Wheels; Six-blade plastic Fan vs. Stock Ford Fan; etc. , etc.

Basically, it looks like we all have the same religion (FORD), but read from two different ‘Bibles’. Some prefer to focus on the OLD TESTAMENT (Ford Service Bulletins), while others prefer to focus on the NEW TESTAMENT (Les Andrew’s “Mechanics Handbook Vol. 2”). Ofcourse many of us read both the Old AND the New Testament, but have a strong and heavy leaning towards one over the other, while still maintaining respect and understanding for the other.

And then too, there is yet a THIRD group of us that gives little credence to either the Old or the New Testament, and chooses to (like Frank Sinatra) ‘Do it my way’ – thus the ‘Hot Rod’. Although better fitted to ‘The Jalopy Journal’, many ‘Hot Rod’ fans find their way to the more traditional site of our FORD BARN Forum.

If there is a concern about the future of the Ford Model A as a hobby, it will take the first two groups to appreciate each other as allies and work together to find a ‘common ground’ that will ‘bring in new converts’ to the Model A “religion”. Fortunately, that seems to be the case, and I think it will continue to do so in the future. The ‘Hot Rod-ers’ should have no trouble keeping their turf healthy, as they offer a bit of ‘James Dean’ that will always attract the younger generation.

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Old 12-01-2014, 01:52 AM   #11
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

Most of us young guys are about driving these old things and using them. I know 3 mid 30's guys within a 5 mile radius with stockers that drive them daily in good weather...

I'd drive mine if it would run, but it's more of a "touring" style car.

I've also got an entire backyard full of stock parts for sale, but don't post much as I have been chastised my local and online members of the stock community for what I choose to build which is hot rod model A with all bolt on parts. Still A powered. no cutting

My interest in stock A's lies in replicating used stock style car, so it would appear as a used vehicle in the late 30's to 40's. I like the wood inside, not tube steel. I like a slightly worn stock interior. I like banger motors, and wire wheels. Stock hardware. roadsters with just the fenders removed. I know this isn't the focus here and those of us with that interest keep our mouths shut, even though we may own a stock A or two. I have 4 btw. 3 stock one hot rod. none run.
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Old 12-01-2014, 02:17 AM   #12
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

In the middle of the 20th century stamp collecting was huge. People of all ages and incomes were doing it. Today, I would say interest in stamp collecting is perhaps only 15% of what it was 60 years ago. BUT! There are still stamp collectors, and the surviving market and hobby, though much smaller, is still strong. I think the same thing will happen with the Model A hobby. Interests wax and wane, but most remain in some form. We happen to be in a very active period for Model A's, and we're lucky to have the resouces we have. I agree with those who say, enjoy the here and now. Tomorrow is not my problem.
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Old 12-01-2014, 07:31 AM   #13
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

I think what motivates a person to buy an old car is the attraction to it's beauty. The lack of driveabilty on modern roads is the sacrifice and must be tolerated to enjoy the aesthetics of the vehicle. If future generations don't find an attraction for these old vehicles, the buying demand will dwindle. I think we see a bit of this happening with the model T's. Sure, the T's are unique and interesting but they may look too antique to be beautiful to many. Of course, beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder. The fact is, model T's prices and demand are down. Will this happen to the model A's? Only a crystal ball could predict.
With the increasing technology of modern cars, its getting more and more difficult to drive the model A with the current traffic. Maybe retro-mod type vehicles will gain popularity.
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Old 12-01-2014, 10:45 AM   #14
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

to reply to a very narrow point on our new member's many interesting aspects, I would say that in an urban area of any size, yes, driving the cars would be limited to narrow circumstances and very select traffic routes. I am aware that a number of members comment on driving them frequently if not everyday etc., I have always assumed that they live in rural/small town areas.
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Old 12-01-2014, 10:57 AM   #15
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

ericr,my thoughts exactly.mine gets driven once a month to pick up hay.somebody on forum has said he's had A'S for years & has never driven one. its a big country&world&some live on farms&maybe some on ranches.some may drive&never encounter another car. just enjoy your hobby. tom
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Old 12-01-2014, 11:46 AM   #16
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

I'm probably one of the "in betweeners" at 61, the kids are grown, house almost paid off, starting to power down toward retirement. I've been into old airplanes and old cars since I can remember. Old cars are alot cheaper than old airplanes, so our current focus is old cars. I love the slower speeds of the Model T's, but nothing beats a Model A for more general use, or an early V8 if you have to get on a highway. Moreover, both my son (30) and daughter (25) are equally fond of the old cars, in fact tend to look down at the muscle cars at shows and I have to remind them to each his own. My daughter in particular loves not just the cars, but the eras as well - vintage fashion, accessories, etc. She loves going on tours and dressing for the era whether its 20's, 30's or 40's. The whole family, including my Russian-born daugher in law, got into WWII re-enacting 10 years ago and all three of the "youngsters" are quite avid.

We belong to both Model A clubs, both Model T clubs, the EV8 club, AACA, and the military vehicle club. They all have their strengths and faults, but we've never experienced anything but good cheerful service from any, and all their forums are extremely useful. Yes there is the occasional diatribe in all the fourms, that's just human nature, but that's not the norm. I've yet to meet the dreaded individual at a show who looks down their nose at your vehicle and proceeds to tell you every little thing that's wrong. I would have to say that the AACA probably has the most up-to-date system with a website, facebook page, online magazine, etc. but that's not to denigrate the other clubs efforts which for being almost entirely volunteer do a remarkable job.

Somebody made the observation that the Model T clubs seem to do a better job of attracting the younger folks. I'd say that's probably true, but just. We were impressed at the Model T Centennial in 2008 in Richmond at the number of young folks, particularly young ladies, driving their own Model T speedsters. These had stock or near stock engines and certainly weren't painted as Henry intended, but they were everywhere and brought smiles to everybody. Enough so that my daughter decided she wanted her own (which is now nearly complete). I'm not sure they do anything differently than the other clubs, it seems to be an attraction to the Model T's themselves.

An off the cuff observation for what its worth - in general, the Model T guys seem to be a bit more light hearted, the Model A guys a bit more technically oriented, the EV8 guys a bit more so, and the military guys more passionate. That's just an impression and not meant to be a generalization. Its all good, and I think the future of the whole old car hobby is OK. It may look a little different than it does now, I can't get used to the idea that something from the 70's/80's as a classic, but the hobby will evolve.
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Old 12-01-2014, 12:05 PM   #17
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

Steven welcome to the Model A Ford hobby, have fun Don't be shy about posting here , pictures etc. you may have something the rest can learn from!
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Old 12-01-2014, 12:37 PM   #18
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

One of the bigger things I notice around here is:

Parts hoarders hold onto parts too long. They die and stuff goes to scrap. Good parts are now taken out of possible circulation and the families lose out on what could've been a higher dollar amount to pass on.

Sadly, I've seen this happen a few times over the last five years. Two times it happened to excellent parts collections.

Another thing is some folks don't take care of stuff. Recently I've gone to a place that could've been one of the best spots I've ever been to parts-wise but the man kept everything on the ground. Some stuff sat so long it was embedded into the dirt. Among these parts were a few dozen top irons that were likely incredibly good before he put them at the base of a bush.
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Old 12-01-2014, 12:39 PM   #19
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbirdtbird View Post
6. This paragraph, however, is a gross generalization and does this valuable forum a grave disservice:

All the forums that I have looked at so far (including this one) follow this pattern; someone makes a comment or asks a question, and the discussion devolves into personal attacks, name-calling, politics, etc. or it is dominated by the same few experts talking to each other. Or, there are endless discussions among the same few about minute and obscure details that almost no one cares about.

.
I agree T-Bird.
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Old 12-01-2014, 01:09 PM   #20
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Default Re: Can the Model A hobby survive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by steven321 View Post
Now, I enjoy my restored 31 Tudor. However, it's no secret that original cars are slooowww, hard to drive and shift, have no sound system, vibrate a lot, are somewhat unsafe, etc. etc. Very little there to attract newer generations without some kind of revolutionary changes in the way the hobby operates. Probably changes that are going to be unacceptable or at best uncomfortable for most in the hobby today.
One thing to consider about this... Try to enjoy the quirky weirdness of your Model A in all its glory.

I drive my A at least twice a week, and almost never exceed 50 mph. Mostly, it's just 40 - 45. Hey, it's not a Honda!

Part of my enjoyment is watching the fence posts go by and listening to the engine hum. Of course I revel in the fact that I can cross intersections at 10 mph, clear hills at 25, hit 50 with a tailwind... and drive a thousand miles without a hiccup. I love every antiquie detail of the machine. The big wire wheels, the flat windshield, the simple engineering -- no fuel filter, no oil filter, no air filter, no turn signals, no electronics, no radio, no cd, no heater, no sensors, no synchros, and of course, it's awesomely elegant design. I brag about it's 'modern' conveniences and 'powerful' engine every chance I get.

To me, those are things worth recognizing. And I suspect younger folks will too. Just point them out, and jaws will drop.

Welcome to the barn!
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