Fort Mill Times

Classic cars: A bonding experience

Bill Deaton of Fort Mill is a tax expert during working hours and a classic car enthusiast all other times.
Bill Deaton of Fort Mill is a tax expert during working hours and a classic car enthusiast all other times.

This is the maiden voyage (or should I say first test drive) of a column that I hope is both fun and infor-mational, and I sincerely hope to get a lot of feedback from you, the reader.

It has been my experience from living in the Fort Mill area that there are many guys and gals involved in the classic/muscle car industry, ranging from owning a classic car to just being interested in their designs and/or history. Weekly cruise-ins and car shows have grown tremendously in number in the last few years, some of which has been fueled by the various TV shows and the fact that the ownership of classic cars is truly an investment. There is even a magazine being published now that is mostly dedicated to promoting all the various car shows and cruise-ins in the Charlotte region and let me tell you that it's almost possible to go to a cruise-in every night of the week during the warm summer months.

The Automotive Restoration Market Organization has an advertising program out now with the tag line of "Take a kid to a car show" and I think that's very important as we need to expose and teach the younger generation about older cars so that they will have the same love and enthusiasm for them as we did. I was a lucky kid growing up as my dad worked at a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership for a couple of years and then moved on to a Chevy dealership for nine more years. I consider myself fortunate in that I grew up in the "muscle car" era - I'll never forget my dad driving home an orange '70 Hemi Superbird as a demonstrator and how excited I was to feel the power and the burning of the rubber. It's hard to believe now that this very same car could bring well over $500,000.

The truth was that back when the cars were new they couldn't even give them away, much less sell them to someone (which is why my dad switched to selling Chevys, but that's another story). The main point is that this was a bonding experience between father and son and a memory that I will never forget. Please don't think that this is just a "male" bonding experience - my wonderful wife, who has graciously allowed me to passionately follow this hobby, enjoys going to the local car shows and cruise-ins. I encourage everyone to at least go to a show or two and if you have kids take them also. Strike up conversations with the owners about their cars, because just like proud parents they love to talk about their pride and joy.

I can't tell you how many wonderful and interesting people I've met at car shows and cruise-ins over the years. Just this past year here at the Fort Mill Thunder show we met a bunch of people, one of which had just moved down from Illinois and another who owned a beautiful '63 Bonneville and was a transplant from New Jersey.

Hopefully, this column will bring back pleasant memories of times past when life at least seemed, maybe not easier, but at least simpler. It will be about the cars, but maybe more importantly it will be about the people (and characters).

By no means will I be able to provide any restoration or repair help, as I get by with the basics such as oil changes and belt replacements and leave the technical stuff to my good friend and secret weapon, who shall obviously remain nameless!