I’ve said it a few times before: static shows are far from my favorite thing to shoot.
This is doubly so for single make meet-ups, but when the name ZCON was associated I threw out any connotations of dullness. Seeing as how I passed up the concours event earlier in the week to get a taste of Atlanta itself, I knew there was no way I’d skip on this.
The last organized ZCON Atlanta sub-event came and went in the form of a good old fashioned parking lot show. The only lot large enough for everyone coming was found at a local baseball stadium, so one could only assume this would mean a decent turnout was expected, and decent it was.
Upon pulling up to the lot I immediately knew I was in the right place. It always amazes me how well the R32 Skyline has aged, but this story is going to be about early model cars only so enough about that. I will have a post dedicated to the more recent stuff that turned up here soon, I promise.
For now, it’s onto the old stuff, the stuff that the majority of attendees at ZCON absolutely love and adore.
When I told my friends I would be heading to ZCON in the first place I got a mixed bag of reactions. They ranged from “awesome” to “it’s just a bunch of purists, you’ll regret it.” But, really, what makes a purist a purist, anyway?
The definition, according to the Google machine, is “a member of a group of English Protestants of the late 16th and 17th centuries who regarded the Reformation of the Church of England as incomplete.” Wait a minute, that’s not right…
A purist is “a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures, especially in language or style.” Or, “an adherent of purism,” meaning “scrupulous or exaggerated observance of or insistence on traditional rules or structures.”
Sort of sounds like someone with a stick up their butt, and all too often we all seem to come off that way online.
In person, especially when find yourself in Georgia instead of California, this derogatory description couldn’t be further from the truth.
Everyone has a preference, and these preferences are expressed in what they do with their cars; this much is simple.
But there was just some sort of intangible feeling that I picked up at this final ZCON event that I just don’t really ever get from other static car shows.
Everything looked just that little bit better; every car was interesting and intriguing in its own way.
Despite being dedicated to just one make, so many different schools of thought could be seen in the cars that came out to the event.
To me, this is why travel is so important. You shouldn’t always go to the events and locations that an area is defined by, either — I missed Caffeine and Octane, for example – because so much can be learned from the more organic events and interactions. This goes, of course, for non-car things too, but I won’t go too far off the deep end here.
ZCON was a manufactured event and tons of people traveled for it, but it had a certain amount of transparency that made it more appealing. You knew why everyone was here.
In taking in all of these old Datsuns (and their owners), I found myself with a general appreciation for the purist.
The car enthusiast at large, whoever that may be; those who just love things a certain way. We’re all purists in one way or another, after all.
It’s that almost imperceptible dance inside and outside the box that keeps us — photographers, builders, collectors, fabricators, painters, and what have you — coming back to look for more.
Whether it’s a rare factory-spec car or a V8 swap, we should all be building our cars with a “scrupulous or exaggerated observance of or insistence on traditional rules or structure.” The only difference is, everyone’s traditions are different. Structure isn’t the same for me or you, and it’s this mixing of philosophies that makes a car show a car show.
It really shouldn’t matter what you do to a car, but rather how you do it. Does it make sense? Is it unequivocally better than when you got your hands on it, or than when it was built in the first place?
One would indeed hope that’s the case in any modified car.
Again, it just doesn’t matter what your cup of tea is, and it doesn’t even matter if you have one. Everyone is in a different place in the automotive journey, and one destination – or even a quick stop here or there for that matter – isn’t necessarily better than another.
Like I said, I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that I wasn’t in California, or if perhaps this environment is just the nature of ZCON. But in hindsight, I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed a car show as much as I did here.
Maybe it’s just one of those ‘grass is greener’ moments or it’s also possible I just plain imagined what I’m trying to describe. Or, there really could be something to it.
Where I’m from there are a lot of people who take themselves really seriously. I’d say this extends from the car world into everyday life, but I’m guessing it’s really the other way around. People who don’t live in California often don’t realize that living here often means little to no time for cars (or family, for that matter). Is that what was different here, that people are inherently more interested in their cars and the culture around them instead of their professional lives?
I digress, but it seemed that just about every car resonated with me and reminded me at the same time that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. It’s tempting to get too far caught up in the details (or shortcomings, or things that are a matter of taste) in a build, but far more rewarding to look at the big picture.
Why is that car here? Why am I here? How did we both get to where we are right now?
Everyone’s answer is different, but it’s our undying love for cars that unites us all. Or, at ZCON, a love for… you guessed it: Z-cars. On that note, I’ll leave you with this stunning Z31. Old school, but not quite an early model.
Or maybe it is; I think everyone has their own rules for that, too.