By John Gunnell
Thousands of “traditional” hot rod enthusiasts traveled to Symco, Wis., to participate in the Symco Hotrod & Kustom Weekender on Aug. 9-10. Those who like the ‘50s and ‘60s lifestyle enjoy this event because it features attractions such as a large vintage camper section, pinup girl clothing for sale and beauty contests, min-bike drag races and parade, classic bicycles, barbers giving ducktail haircuts and rockabilly bands.
Symco features some of the best “old school” hot rods and customized cars in the Badger State and from throughout the Midwest, although other types of vehicles are also allowed entry. All cars must be from earlier than 1975, but the focus is on pre-1965 traditional hotrods and customs with two or more modifications or pre-1961 stock vehicles. All bikes must be pre-1970. If you want to build a car or truck and get some great ideas, Symco is a great place to see what the latest hot rodding fads are.
A swap meet with auto parts and nostalgia items is part of the show. The vendors at Symco sell everything from balloon style bicycle tires to pinstriping services. Pinup girls can even get their pocketbooks pinstriped. Part of the Symco excitement is Unionville—the old-fashioned village where the show is held, which was put together by members of a tractor collecting club called The Union Threshermen. Unionville includes a cop shop, a bank, a post office, a blacksmith shop, a bar where brews are served and a church.
Good weather added to the success of the 2019 Symco Hotrod & Kustom Weekender. As far as trends, we noticed there was an increase in pinup girl costumes, more “jalopy” style hot rods, more interest in off-brand vehicles from De Sotos to Willys and what seemed like a smaller swap meet, offset by more vendors in the show car area.
Vicki and Rich Tessmer of Weston, Wis., won the Symco raffle prize—a purple Advance-Design Chevy pickup with a brand-new crate engine. Bonneville racer Burton Brown brought his 1933 Chevy roadster with a blown GMC six to Symco (a car recently featured in Old Cars Weekly.) Brown built the car for his dad, who since passed away.