Purpose Built Cars


Image from telegraph.co.uk

Every year after Autorama is finished and the Ridler winner is decided, it seems the same conversations happen on all the forums: “I can’t believe they spent $x xxx xxx on that car!  They won’t even drive it!  That’s not a car show, it’s an art show!”  …and on and on.

I think the only way to recognize the Ridler winner is to compare it to something, and most people would compare it to their daily driver.  Whether it’s a hot rod or a Nissan, that becomes the reference point.  Because the Ridler cars (or Great 8 cars as a group) are ________ (nicer, more expensive, more custom, shinier, faster, whatever) than the average daily driver, we put them on a pedestal or lazy Susan and say there’s no way the owner would ever drive that thing.
And I think that’s probably the closest-to-right thing to do.

Think about it – try pitching this to General Motors: “Hi, I have a great idea.  You should build a car with your cool ZR1 motor in it, so people can go really fast.  They should also be able to take six of their friends with them to share the experience, so it will look sort of like a limo.  But it has to be able to clear rocks and stuff, too, because off-roading is popular these days, you know.  Waddyathink?”

Cars are purpose-built.  The car you drive to Detroit with your buddies won’t win the Ridler.  That’s not what it was built to do.  Guess which car will win the Ridler?  That’s right – the car that was built and preserved to win the Ridler.  Along this same theme, what about the car that you’re going to enjoy cruising with the top down on a late summer evening?  The car you’re trailering to Bonneville?  The car you’re driving to Bonneville, which happens to be the same car you’re running there too, thankyouverymuch?

I think you understand my point by now: the car you build will be best at it’s intended purpose.  To me, getting upset at someone who says “I want to win the Ridler”, then builds a car to do that very thing, is the same as getting upset over the guy who builds a car to run at Bonneville, or the guy who has a drag car just for the weekends.

I enjoyed looking at all the cars in Detroit… and secretly hope to see each and every one on the road in the future 😉


  1. Who is this D.W. Guy?

    You should consider journalism sir or maybe politics; D.W. for Prime Minister.

    All kidding aside, very accurate,clear and concise. I couldn’t agree more. Pleasure to read something on this topic that is grounded.

    Keep up the great work.
    Best regards,
    John Edwards
    Dream Machines Ltd.

  2. Jaybee says:

    Absolutely correct. I don’t think it’s anything new, either. The show rods of the ’60s certainly weren’t built to drive on a regular basis, they were built to win trophies and draw attention. Same as today.

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