Cool Cars for Kids

That’s the word I used a ton of times Sunday at the Cars For Kids show put on by the Hot Heads Car Club in Oxford, MA., for the benefit of the Clara Barton Summer Camp for kids with diabetes. 
As the club’s Bob Keogh told me early in the day as I set up to sign books amidst a traffic-jam of classic cars of every description, “We call it a car show, not a hot rod show, because we want everything.”  That was great, because if it’s a car, I want it, too (Yeah, even a Prius). 
Y’up, there were rods, of every style from rusty rat to elegant swan. There also were impeccably-restored antiques of any vintage that could roll into town on its own, from Model A’s to Mustangs and beyond. 
A few cars defied description. Sunday brought with it the first Kaiser Darrin I’ve ever laid eyes on. Kaiser built cars into the 1950s, and the Darrin was its answer to those first kinda-crappy Corvettes. This example was pristine in its original yellow-going-green color that carried even to the leather seats. And talk about unique. The Darrin is the only car I’ve ever seen with sliding doors. Yeah, sliding. 
But where the car had been manufactured with one of Kaiser’s anemic flathead fours, this owner had installed Vette-like smallblock-Chevy power. Of course he had. 
In the midst of all this celebration of cool cars, a couple of things got me thinking. First of all, these shows always have a DJ. Great idea. But why do they all insist on spinning nothing but doo-wop music? I mean, doo-wop (Am I spelling that right?) pretty much died with the Beatles, Stones, and that British-Invasion thing of the early 1960s. That means if you were into doo-wop, you’re likely into your 70s - at least. Most of the car owners I saw Sunday didn’t look that old. How about some Beatles, or Stones, or maybe the Animals or - hey! - what about the Beachboys, Jan And Dean, and all those 1960s performers who did songs about cars, like “Little Deuce Coupe” and “GTO?” 
Here’s a bigger puzzle. I was chatting with one car owner and the subject of getting kids into cars came up. If you know me, you know I look for places where kids and cars come together so I can convince kids my books are worth reading if you like cars.  That’s why I was there; “Cars for Kids,” you know? 
Yet, in the middle of that discussion, I looked around and, amidst all these car nuts, there were precious few kids.  If you want kids to catch the car-nut bug, you have to expose them to the virus. You need to bring the kids along with you. You need to force them away from their little plastic slabs of light and into the real world. 
I’m convinced, sit a kid in some muscle car with a flaming red interior and a big-block motor and fire it up. There’s no computer that can capture that music. 
Closing at 1pm didn’t help, as the more casual fan isn’t up early on a Sunday morning. And I expected a bunch of kids from the camp. Diabetics love cars, too. I’m proof.

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