Restoring your orphan car isn't the end. It's just the beginning.

Finally. After a coupla years, you’ve attached that last bit of trim to the Lark Daytona. That 455 V8 in your Olds 442 now kicks ay-ess-ess. The sunroof on your Mercury Bobcat is finally sucking in sunshine instead of just sucking.

Time to celebrate a job well done, right? Um, yeah, kind of. I definitely want you to pour a few brewskis down the personal fuel line. You’ve worked hard to turn that hunk of rust into a certified head snapper. You deserve it. But that job well done is actually just a job well started.

You thought this was a sprint? Uh-oh.

Keep a hand on the neck of one of those brewskis. You’re going to need some medication. Because here’s what will happen if you follow the path of 99% of all the other guys who have restored their classic cars.

You take that beauty to the very next car show you can attend. You park it on the show field. You spit. You polish. You open the hood. And then you just walk away. Maybe you sit stone faced in a lawn chair behind your car all day. Maybe you drift away to talk to your friends.

Your car sits there all day unattended while dozens of potential fans walk by and wonder what it is. You have an opportunity to tell your car’s story. You have a chance to tell your own restoration story. But no one will ever hear it. Why? Because you just walked away.

A few weeks later, you and your Studebaker or Oldsmobile or Mercury friends get together and moan about the fact that there’s no fresh blood joining your clubs. Friends, the reason why is staring at you in the rear view mirror.

Put away the DIY Mechanic. Become the Salesman your hobby needs.

A car show is the only the second greatest opportunity you have to generate excitement and enthusiasm for the hobby. The number-one-with-a-bullet way to attract/seduce/recruit others is you. Your excitement, your passion, and your story will infect others like a virus. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s profoundly powerful.

Smokey the Bear solemnly says, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Smokey’s a chucklehead. I want you to get out there and play with matches. Talk to people at your next car show. Light a few fires in their eyes. Unpark the car, and take folks for a ride. Ignite some passion.

Be the orphan car salesman that your club desperately needs. Stay with your car. Talk about it when people ask, “What’s a Pacer?” Or “Who was Henry J?” Tell them a story. Whatever you do, don’t park and walk away.

Stay tuned in the coming months for more ideas on how to celebrate your orphan car and how to recruit more people into the hobby. Remember: you’re not just fixing up a classic car and keeping it running. You have to keep your hobby running, too.
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