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Old School Kicks At Christmas-N-Paradise Holiday Toy Drive

This past weekend, the Paradise Dragstrip, located just north of Calhoun, Georgia sponsored an event that I thought our readers might like a report on.  The plan was for a swap meet first, then a patriotic opening ceremony, and, finally, the rest of the day would feature an unlimited amount of back in the day racing down the picturesque 1/8 mile dragstrip nestled in the foothills of North Georgia.  While the rain from the previous night had stopped, the cold and overcast conditions may have put a damper on the number of participants.  However, at least fifty cars showed up for either the vintage drag racing or the car show that followed the swap meet.  The miserable conditions moved out by late morning, warming the track and spurring the participants to put on an amazing display of old school horsepower and speed.  It ended up to be a great day for motor heads, with the sights and sounds of speed freaks blasting down the strip, and local kids benefitted from the money raised and toys collected.

In order to cover this fun event, I will break the pictures into two posts.  This post covers the swap meet and two pictures of the gorgeous period correct Model A Ford phaeton hot rod that carried the flag for the opening ceremony.  The next post will be a mix of the car show and drag racing.  If the readers request a third post, then it will consist of car show participants and drag racing as well.  While I wish all of you could have made it to this event, I hope you are inspired enough by this report to make it to a late season holiday toy drive car event in your area.  While the weather might be frightful, the company and camaraderie of die hard enthusiasts and getting to see their rides while making a difference in your community makes it all worth while.  If you can’t make it to an event, please consider donating to the United States Marine Corps Toys For Tots program.  There are still a lot of needy kids out there that need a toy under the tree Christmas morning!

At the swap meet, there were a number of vendors selling body parts, engines, speed parts, and all of the other vehicle related trinkets and treasures you would expect.  What I tried to concentrate on were the interesting vehicles in the swap meet area.  Some, like the 1930 Ford Model A tudor sedan, were for sale.  Others may have been someone’s custom parts hauler.  Of the cars in the swap meet, this Model A was my favorite.  The body was very solid, except for an area at the bottom of the driver’s side fender that had a sheet of old Bondo separating from the damaged metal below.  The car might have been original, but I think it had been restored long ago and stored improperly some time afterward.  The $7,500 OBO price was probably not too far out of line, but the market for Model As that need a restoration isn’t that big.

Next up was probably the only car for sale at this event that I might be able to afford.  When I was growing up, a neighbor kid had one of these fire truck pedal cars, and I wanted one like it in the worst way.  Pedal cars had kind of fallen by the wayside by then, as kids were more into Big Wheels and smaller BMX bikes at the time.  I ended up with a Big Wheel that had an almost square front tire on it thanks to my foolish desire to make black streaks on the sidewalk with it.  It was kind of hard to spin the front wheel fast enough to do a burnout by pedaling alone, so skidding was the next best thing.  I think I ate a lot of paint chips as a child, as you probably have already surmised from my writing.

Farther down the field was this wicked postwar Ford truck, which was a cross between a resto-mod and a rat rod.  I think it was a 1948 Ford, but I’d like some confirmation from our readers who are in the know on these things.  There was no sign to let you know it was for sale, and there were no parts for sale in its spot, so I have no idea what was going on with it.  All I know is that it was pretty cool, and had the perfect stance and look.

Another blast from the past that was looking for a new home was this radical sixties style T-bucket roadster.  Sporting a small block Chevy engine, and straight axles front and back, this lightweight throwback must be a blast to drive.  With a power to weight ratio as low as this one likely has, how could it not be?  Unlike many of these I have seen, the paint work and attention to detail was, in the words of the late, great Commandant Eric Lassard: “Very, very good!”

My favorite car of the event was this Model A phaeton that had been made into a period correct hot rod.  Phaetons, which are four door convertibles that have side curtains in place of standard roll up windows, are rarely seen nowadays as hot rods.  People seem to prefer coupes, roadsters, and convertibles, leaving larger cars like phaetons to usually be restored by purists.  This one was built as if it were a back yard custom in the 1950s, complete with a mildly modified Flathead motor and the removal of the hood, hood sides, fenders, and running boards.  Whoever did the work was very talented, as the jet black paint showed no imperfections and the rest of the car was well finished and not overdone.  This car and its family had the honor of carrying Old Glory down the track during the National Anthem, and the display of patriotism was nice to see.  There wasn’t a kneeler in sight.

Finally , I thought a picture of the quail hood ornament on the Model A pictured above was a good place to leave off.  While a Moto Meter radiator cap with a temperature gauge is much more practical, the quail cap represents a time when the little things mattered.  The passion that car manufacturers frequently displayed carried over to the owners, and it is good to see that there are so many people still passionate about preserving these vehicles decades later.  What I got to experience was basically a living museum day at the track, and an added benefit was witnessing the charity in the hearts of automobile enthusiasts.  The event was a reminder that our hobby is rich with people who may be a bit rough on the outside, but their hearts are filled with gold.

Stay tuned for the next installment covering this unique event!



  1. Madmatt

    Sounds like it was fun,and for sure a great way to
    share our wealth and blessings with others who are in need!
    I wish there was no need for charities in this world,
    but there are constantly disasters,that make all people equal,
    and there is no better feeling than helping someone in need!
    Merry Christmas to all…let us all have peace on earth..,and “goodwill toward man”this season and all year long!

  2. jw454

    In the summer of 2010 I was sent to the Rome Ga. plant from the Ohio office to assist with a new model launch. Paradise was the closest dragstrip I could find. I spent considerable time there over that summer. Interesting track layout that you have to see to believe.
    Sounds like it was a fun event.

  3. Jay E.

    Thumbs up for sharing the post.

  4. George

    Great article , thanks for sharing. Would love to see more.

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