Gunners Garage

The 9-11 Syndrome

Today was one of those rare days when everything goes right. One of the best things about it was meeting Bob Norris at Grade A Welding in Fond du Lac, Wis. I had noticed Bob’s shop a couple of weeks ago, while driving to Fond du Lac to visit my son, who was in a hosptal there. One night we drove by Bob’s place on Lakeshore Drive and among the rows of old cars parked there, I spotted a ’48 Pontiac Streamliner sedan that looked like a duplicate of mine. I just had to go back and see it.

Bob Norris got back to his shop a little while after I arrived and we had a great conversation. He said he had been a very active street rodder in the ’70s, but got out when it “turned into all billet doo-dads and $5,000 paint jobs.” The thing that brought Bob back to old cars was 9-11 – or more accurately the economic slowdown after it. Bob’s business seemed to evaporate for awhile and he had time on his hands. “The ‘old skol’ rod thing was starting and I figured life is short and I’m going jump in again!” Now Bob has a building full of project cars and he started a new drag racing class for “old-skol” dragsters. In fact, he has orders for six racing cars similar to his. At 64, Bob feels like life is worth living again. He’s still working, but his heart is really in building rods. The way he sees it in the post 9-11 world, as soon as he shuts down his welding torch, he’ll fire it up again – but only for building street rods. What a great retirement plan!

As for the ’48 Streamliner, that belongs to Bob’s girlfriend.

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