This weekend was the National Volvo Club of America (VCOA) meetup in Tulsa, OK. Whatever mental image that sentence might bring to you, I assure you it wasn’t that bad. Yes, there were a lot of old people and a lot of pretty boring cars, but there were also a ton of cool old classics and some really neat people.
The main course of this meetup was Saturday, an all day event that started with technical workshops for steering box rebuilding, followed by SU carb rebuilding, tuning, and balancing. Simultaneously, people who had entered for the car show, officially taking place between 1PM and 3PM were primping and prepping to try and take home a blue ribbon in their class.
I was in that latter group. Specifically, I was in the “C30” class, which contained only three cars total. A friend of mine was organizing the event and convinced me to enter the show. I did it to help with the numbers and I figure if anyone cares about the rarity of my car, it would be the Volvo people. So staying up late the night before for an interior detail, followed by getting up with the sun to wash and wax it in the morning, needless to say I was both exhausted and excited by the time I arrived at the meet at 9AM.
The show was excellent! So many cool old cars! I was totally taken in by the 444/544 models, of which there were only three. I almost bought one for our first cheap car challenge road trip, but chickened out and bought an Alfa instead. Having done some research into these cars, I knew they were good even by modern standards, despite having been made 50+ years ago. After seeing them in person I am hooked. I need one of these vehicles in my life.
The day flew by and soon we were at the awards banquet, a pretty swanky affair sponsored by Volvo Cars North America and the local Volvo dealer. (Sidenote: Sat next to the GM for the local dealer at dinner. Nice guy. Didn’t have the heart to tell him I hated the dealer with a fiery passion.) Unfortunately this meant a very long presentation about how excited everyone should be for yet another crossover entering the already over-saturated market. But it is OK! This one is aimed at Snake People… even though they probably can’t afford it and likely have no interest in a small Volvo SUV with a tiny 4-banger in it… but you know… CROSSOVERS WOO! (Yes, I am biased)
At the Q&A, some good questions were asked about Polestar (Q: Why electric instead of becoming more like AMG? A: Reasons, mostly corporate vision driven) and future models (Q: Any small cars coming back? A: CROSSOVERS!!!! [i.e. No]) .
They also went over their new “Heritage Collection” they’re developing for the South Carolina plant, which was cool. Then they admitted they let three of their collection get completely submerged in Hurricane Sandy and had been letting them sit in limbo since. Not cool. Just restore them you boob! You can’t pretend to be excited about cars while also dooming three classics by refusing to correct a situation that you created.
Ok, that was all very negative and I apologize. I’ll reiterate the people attending were excellent, the speakers were all very passionate and interesting, and despite my cynicism the new Volvos are some of the most interesting cars on the market today. Also the food was pretty OK. And I remembered to bring a flask.
Yeah Ok I lost. There. Happy?
First place was taken by a modified 2008 C30. Cool car and the owner was awesome. Like really, one reason he won was his passion for his car was so completely obvious from every interaction with him. Really cool guy, really cool car. He spent damn near six hours standing by his car, talking about it to anyone who would listen, not because he wanted to win, but because he was just that exited to be around people who care about Volvos as much has he does. No hard feelings. 100%
That said, yeah I’m pretty bummed I got second place. Mostly because I lost to an automatic. That is really the thing that bugs the crap out of me.
Also that fewer than 250 of my cars exist.
And less than half of those are manual.
And mine really is in great shape... but also daily driven.
Here is my thinking as to why I won’t be competing in another show: My Volvo is by far the most “show ready” vehicle I have. The Disco is bone stock and not in great shape. The Saab is a dumpster fire. The Alfa is a 10-footer, at best. I have no plans on making any of these vehicles either heavily modded or 100% restored. They’re all drivers. Despite all that, the Volvo was expected to win, so I guess I was just... counting on it. Further, if the Volvo can’t win against only two other cars, I have no hope of winning a show which, unless I am mistaken, is the point. But more important than all that, the whole thing took what was otherwise a very fun experience and cast a shadow on it. I retroactively had less fun, and that is dumb. But avoidable!
No ones fault but my own, but here we are.
So, I’ve done it once and have no desire to do it again. I will absolutely attend car shows, because they’re an excellent way to see some excellent cars and meet some great people, but I have no plans on competing in one again.
Doggo for your time.