"...we'll be sifting through...
"...we'll be sifting through the entries once again, this time looking for those home builders who, in our estimation, did the best job with limited resources."
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For the majority of gearheads, the thing they want to see in a car magazine is the stuff that they can afford to do. In the absence of an unlimited budget, DIY builders have to make some compromises, and oftentimes the art is in knowing just where to place a limited number of hard-earned dollars. And believe it or not, even guys with a bankroll have the same challenge. Whether you're on a budget, or have a "comfortable" level of funding, if you walk this line just right, you will be the hero.
Nevertheless, some people resent the spendy cars (nicely done or otherwise) not because of what they are, but because they are a sore spot for the limitations regular guys deal with. By corollary argument, I've noticed that some guys with high-end hot rods-probably unintentionally-exude an air of superiority that reinforces that resentment. I guess you could say the hot rodding world is a microcosm of class struggle in general. The "haves" and the "have-nots" will probably always butt heads, but it's all in good fun, of course.
To the meat-and-potatoes hot rodder, the key to flattening the playing field is to do more with less. The rich rodder may think he can mindlessly spend his way to the top, but the average Joe can still end up the victor with ingenuity and hard work. In point of fact, it's not about the money, but the bang for the buck-irrespective of the amount spent. We can argue all day long about what cars PHR should feature, but in the end, the cars that are in your garages, driveways, barns, and fields (expensive or not) are the only ones that matter.
Along that line, our yearly photo contest is more than a photo contest, it's the opportunity to celebrate the community of "real" cars out there. It's the chance for all corners of the hobby-from high dollar to blue collar-to come together on a level playing field, and be judged in a very unique way: to show the world how each car owner sees his car through his eyes. One of the most striking examples of this is the photo of Brian Ober's '66 Buick Riviera. Yes, its paint is chalky, scaly, and rusty, but the patina and shape of this iconic car in low light is almost three-dimensional. Brian makes you want to love his Buick-you simply have to love it through his eyes, warts and all.
On another note, I'd also like to thank our contest sponsor, Nitto Tires, for adding a much-needed 200hp shot of nitrous to this year's event. In past years, we've offered piles of swag from the dribs and drabs that get sent to us unsolicited every year. With Nitto putting up a set of serious rubber to the winning photographer, that really got your creative juices flowing. That extra incentive resulted in almost 300 entries, as you can see from the boxes of envelopes on my office floor. Our winners, Tom and Amy Craig, of Schertz, Texas, have chosen a pair of Nitto NT555 225/40R17s for the front of their '68 Camaro, and a pair of 285/40R18 NT555R Extreme Drag Radials for the rear. Congrats to Tom and Amy, who did an exceptional job of capturing a beautiful, fleeting moment at sunset.
We realize it's inevitable some folks won't like our selection of winners and finalists, but it's important to remember it's not about what kind of car, or who spent what, but about how well each individual got across their vision with the resources at hand. And some more good news: Due to the breadth of this year's contest, we'll be sifting through the entries once again, this time looking for those home builders who, in our estimation, did the best job with limited resources. If you entered the 2009 contest, don't besurprised if you get a call from us asking for more photos and information on your contest entry. Specifically, we're thinking about something along the lines of "Top 10 Hometown Hot Rods," so stay tuned!