Gunners Garage

Small Fish in a Big Pond

   It struck me at SEMA last week that we — the “old car” collectors — are a little fish in a big pond at this giant trade show in Las Vegas. I know that SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) has its ARMO (Automotive Restorers Market Organization), but are either of these groups really reaching the owners of Chandlers, Ford Model Ts, Erskines, Packards, etc? In a large sense, I think not.

   Each year for the past three years, the SEMA Show has given me the opportunity to fly to Las Vegas and see the show. It has also given me time to visit my old friend Richie Clyne, who helped put together the Imperial Palace Auto Collection. These days Richie spends less time at the office, but only because he’s busy doing old car things. His current project involves a collection of antique fire trucks.

   So here’s Richie Clyne, who lives in Vegas and seriously collects old vehicles, and how many times does he visit SEMA? Try one day! In other words, he can take in everything at SEMA that interests him in just one day! And he’s not the only one.

   Don’t get me wrong . . .  I think the old car hobby needs a trade show like SEMA and I think SEMA is the best there is for us at this time. And I think that SEMA and ARMO help a lot of people who collect Early V-8 Fords, muscle cars and even 1950s cars (to some degree). But there are other types of collector cars.

   Five or so years ago, professionals in the British sports car hobby formed the British Motor Trade Association (www.britcar.org) and it is beginning to take off a little, with the latest meeting scheduled for Jan. 18, 2008 in Tampa, Florida. But as I say, the owners/restorers of Chandlers, Ford Model Ts, Erskines and Packards — not to mention Ahrens-Fox fire trucks — could still use a helpful “little pond” trade organization to promote their interests and protect their rights.

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