Tab Koontz always wanted a muscle car.
“I wanted a cool car to drive around on the weekend and pick up girls,” he said.
Koontz’s wish came true in 2010 when he bought Tigger, a 1974 Dodge Challenger. However, the car was in bad condition, so Koontz and a friend had to restore the car from the bottom up.
It was nine months of intense labor, Koontz said. He and his friend had to tear every nut and bolt off the car to bring it back to its original glory. Now, Koontz regularly shows Tigger at car shows such as the Monroe County History Center’s 3rd Annual Hot Rod and Classic Car Show on Sunday.
People from the community bring their cars to show them off and hang out with like-minded people, said Alexis Pruitt-Andronikos, a volunteer with the Monroe County History Center.
“You meet such an interesting group of people at these shows,” Pruitt said. “You’ll get people who live for these cars. That’s their passion.”
Since restoring Tigger, Koontz and his friend have restored 10 others, and the job has become his primary hobby. He said he loves to go to car shows because of the camaraderie.
Car show attendees can also vote on their favorite car, and the vehicles are judged by experts on criteria such as paint and finish, body, tire and wheels, upholstery and interior, engine compartment, age and presentation.
Tim Lloyd, a Bloomington resident, has loved cars since he was a kid who sat in his garage watching his dad fix cars.
“My wife claims I’ve never grown up,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd now owns five vintage Hudson cars, all of which he mechanically restored. His every day car is a 1954 Hudson. The model he brought to the show is from 1948 that he bought in 1998. This model was not completely restored, just freshened up, he said.
Lloyd said there is a misconception that old cars are just for show and not actually drivable, however, he and his wife drove the car to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the national Hudson meet and Rock City, Georgia to go to Lookout Mountain. The car drives comfortably down the road at 75 miles per hour and averages about 20 miles per gallon.
Though his wife owns a 2008 BMW, Lloyd prefers his old Hudsons because of the participatory driving experience. Drivers must be focused at all times, which makes the cars safer because the driver cannot text and drive, he said.
“I have no interest in driving a new car,” Lloyd said. “I get bored.”
Lloyd said he appreciates the simpler times when everyone who owned a car knew how to fix it. Vintage cars are easier to fix than today’s cars because there is less technology involved. Mechanics were not on every street corner, he said, so people had to know car mechanics out of necessity.
Similarly, IU sophomore Nicholas Oxender loves old cars and the car show experience. He bought his Army Jeep, known as a Willys, when he was 17. He began to mess around with the car, but ended up “accidentally restoring it” over the course of a year.
However, the time spent restoring a car is always worth it, Koontz said. The nine-month labor of love for Tigger was not a waste because every time he looks at the car he smiles.
“It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m patient,” he said.