SEASIDE - Seaside's Hot Rod Happenin' proved one thing this weekend - a car is more than just a way to get from here to there.

It's a statement.

Chevys, Fords, Plymouths, name it and it could be found at the Seaside Convention Center Saturday and Sunday. Both the Seaside show and the Rod Run to the End of the World in Ocean Park, Wash., attracted car enthusiasts from all over the Northwest.

KIM ERSKINE - The Daily Astorian

Car buffs from all over crowd downtown Seaside Saturday for the Hot Rod Happenin'.Residents and visitors wrapped themselves in blankets and braved chilly temperatures in Long Beach, Ocean Park and Chinook, Wash., during the weekend as they lined the sidewalks in lawn chairs to watch the slow parade of cars of all ages and colors attending the Rod Run, organized by the Beach Barons.

In Seaside, it wasn't hard to get car owners to open up about their classic beauties and give advice on how to restore and take care of them. While the universal rule seemed to be "look, but don't touch," there were other lessons to learn.

'You never take it out in the rain'This colorful Hot Rod was one of many in Seaside ready to fly down the speedway.

KIM ERSKINE-The Daily AstorianDave Campbell from Arlington, Wash., has put about $70,000 into his 1931 Chevy 2-door.

"I quit counting at 50. You can spend as much as you want," he said.

The Chevy features a V-8 engine, 700 R-4 transmission, air conditioning and a compact disc player. It's got its original window handles, but instead of cranking them in a circular direction you only have to push the handle for the power windows to roll down. That alone cost about $1,000, Campbell said.

The addition of contemporary amenities was a prevalent theme at the car show.

"You take an old car and you put all the modern stuff in it," Campbell said.

But what about driving?

"Oh, you know, only on nice days. You never take it out in the rain," he said. "You go to some car shows now and then. You might go to Burger King or McDonald's."

The Chevy features a black base coat with violet pearl - when the sun hits the car, it gleams purple. The hood flips to reveal a sparkling engine - "probably $6,000 here," Campbell said - with about $1,000 worth of polishing.

KIM ERSKINE-The Daily Astorian

This gleaming 1936 Chevy Pickup is owned by Astoria resident Starr Boudreau."You really don't realize how much work goes into them," he said. "It takes a lot of engineering and a lot of work."

And it takes one of two things to get there.

"You've gotta have patience or a lot of money," he said.

Campbell said his car stands out because there are not a lot of early Chevys around. The car contained a lot of wood which he had to replace with steel.

"People can see that it's a little bit different," he said.

However, Campbell is both cursed and blessed by his love of cars.

"It's a weakness," he said. "Just like all these other people here."

'The old cars, they're not gonna go away'After Ben Garland of Grants Pass retired from the fire department in 1991, he started working on his '57 Chevy Bel Air nicknamed "Big Red." He and his son-in-law spent about 11 months restoring it.

Dave Campbell happily shows off his 1931 Chevy Saturday at the Hot Rod show.

KIM ERSKINE-The Daily Astorian"It was kinda a family venture," he said.

The 2-door hardtop Chevy holds a 502-cubic inch GM engine and a 700 R-4 transmission, and it features air conditioning, power windows, tuck and roll upholstery, red fuzzy dice and pom-poms in the back seat.

Plus, it's flame red.

Garland's most recent offer for the car was $65,000, but he wasn't so quick to give it up.

"They don't make it like this anymore," he said. He scans the plethora of vehicles around him. "Look at this. It's an bygone era."

Wearing a red Chevrolet jacket to match his car, Garland explains why he's into cars.

"I always liked speed, I always liked the old classics and I wanted a '57 Chevy way back when and couldn't afford it," he said.

"The old cars, they're not gonna go away."

'It's never done'Anybody need a ride? This Checker cab was an attraction at Saturday's Hot Rod show in Seaside.

KIM ERSKINE-The Daily AstorianJack Beck from Hillsboro has been working on his 1940 Plymouth Coup for seven years. At one point it was "finished," and then Beck tore it down again.

"It's never done," he said.

"Plum Fierce" is painted Hawaiian Orchid, its top is cropped three inches and it features air conditioning, cruise control, tilt wheel and power windows. Beck's had it appraised at $28,500.

He has two other Plymouths in addition to the one he showed Saturday.

"I'm a Plymouth freak," he said.

His hobby is nothing new.

"I've been doing it since I was about 14 years old," he said.

Julian Jensen from Longview, Wash., restored his 1930 Model A Ford Sedan with help from his friends. It took five years and "lots" of money.

"It's got the old look but it drives new," Jensen said. "In the summertime we drive it all the time. It's our toy."

Like most owners at the show, Jensen has been interested in cars for a long time.

"I've always loved cars. Ever since I can remember."

The car show attracted people from all around the area, but was not without its locals. Starr Boudreau of Astoria was surprised that she had to come so early for an event so close to home. Some owners came as early as 2:30 a.m. Saturday to set up, she said.

"This is a nice-sized car show," she said.

Her husband began restoring their 1936 Chevy pickup before he died in 2000. When they got it in 1996, it had bullet holes in it after sitting in a field. The butternut yellow Chevy, which features a 350 engine and 700-R transmission was completed in 2001.

"It's been on the road since," she said.

Boudreau said the car is now worth $25,000 to $30,000. She attends car shows about every other weekend in the summer.

"It's just something that we've always done. We've always had old cars," she said.

The last ruleRon Sumner from Klamath Falls, the owner of a red "55 Chevy Bel Air his kids call "Queenie," summed up the basic technique to restoring an old car.

"All you gotta do is have a suitcase full of money and hide it from your wife," he said.

Queenie, which has a 454 engine and a double carburetor, sat indoors Saturday in the guarded Convention Center building.

Sumner said his kids joke, "What Queenie wants, Queenie gets."


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