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Hotrod, Harley, hamburger

22/06/2013 06:33 |  Comments: 

Contributing editor

8 years of working for IBM have chiselled Balázs’s English skills to a level inappropriately high for this magazine, but did much to blunt his interest towards office work and computers. Earlier a reader and seldom contributor, also a deeply affected car maniac, he left IBM and joined us for a longer term as a journalist, but he’s back again to making money – at another IT company. Luckily he kept on writing for us and hasn’t dropped his love for photography either.

I could’ve stayed in the hotel and work. I could’ve watched the game on TV. But no! Sipos, my buddy wouldn’t let me. Instead, I ended up re-living my 8-bit childhood…and getting a new one, in HD. The best/worst thing is that it was just an average Friday night for some.

If you don't know what a Commodore 64 is, you're either too young, so carry on playing with your smartphone or you never had a childhood. In case you did have a C64 but never played Street Rod then I don't know why you ever bothered turning it on and you are probably on the wrong website. But in case you really don't know the best videogame of the 80's, then here's a quick summary: you're a kid in the mid-60's US with a garage and some cash. You buy a car, you juice it up, and head down to Bob's Drive-In to challenge your peers on the drag strip.

I killed countless joysticks trying to beat the King to get his girl, but more importantly his '63 Corvette. That was 8-bit heaven. So imagine my surprise when my esteemed colleague, Sipos took a couple of lefts and rights in LA just for us to end up at Bob's Drive-In. The fun didn't stop there. Far from it. The place was surrounded by hotrods, leadsleds and anything and everything a vintage carnut can dream of...and more.

Bob's Drive In is actually the oldest one from a chain of restaurants called Bob's Big Boy. In addition, this hamburger joint was the very first drive-in. It was built in 1949, and for decades now it's been the meeting place of local rodders, bobbers and pretty much any gearhead apart fromJapanese import tuners. Though there was a slammed Prius across the street with some fancy wheels and a shiny paintjob, but I'm fairly convinced it was just a coincidence.

Already at the entrance we got stuck. You see both Sipos and I have butterflies in our respective stomachs whenever we see a Ford Crown Victoria police car. I want one, want one really bad. But there's not much fidelity in a place like that since all the cars were delicacies for the Trabant-trained eyes of an Eastern European. Corvairs and Novas, Model A's and T's, Corvettes and Mustangs. A Willys Americar here, a Ford F-100 there. Cobra, GT 40, you name it. Just to keep things interesting, and not so American, there were vintage Porsches, like a 914 and a 356, some VW T1's, buggies and Beetles.

Sipos took off to the left to talk to his video camera, I took off to the right to talk with everyone else. Apparently I seemed pretty alien with a tripod since everyone came to ask me if I'm really taking pictures at night. Everyone was really open and friendly, I was shown countless of worn-down, black and white family pictures, heard their stories, had the some debates about why the Merc W123 is better than a New Yorker, smiled to the mandatory Hungry Hungarian joke (never gets old...actually it's way past death), and moved on. I must admit, the people were just as interesting as their cars.

I know that there is not a day in LA when there isn't a cruise night, car show or club meeting, but Friday night at Bob's Big Boy is special, even for the locals. Jay Leno is also a regular, though he wasn't there that night. One of his mechanics was, who was surprisingly nice with us, given how long we nagged and annoyed them a day before.

Anyway, the only drama and my unwanted glory for me was taking the last picture of a convertible F-body Camaro from its healthy days. A Ford F-150 was parking next to it, and the driver of the truck didn't notice the Chevy when leaving. He simply drove over its nose. The owner and the police were there immediately, as well as Mr. Lopez, the restaurant manager. After they were done with the paperworks, Mr. Lopez turned to me and told me to put away the tripod, as it is forbidden there.

I blurted out a surprised “Why?” and he explained that were someone to trip over it, they'd sue the restaurant. Anyway, no harm was done, as we were done with the pictures, the only thing left was to enjoy the cars and Bob's burger. The latter, according to the locals anyway, is the worst from the Big Boy chain, but it was good enough for us.

We hope you'll enjoy the pictures.

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A Ferrari's a tractor compared to this

It could rev to 11,000, had a carburettor for each one of its cylinders and its wheels were driven by chain. All this in 1965.