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Primer Rods and Classic Trucks at the 2018 Lone Star Round Up!

A show for all American-built vehicles from before 1963

Joe HoppewriterBrianne Cornphotographer

The 17th annual Lonestar Round Up hit two extremes during its April 7-8 run at the Travis County Expo Center in Austin, Texas. More cars than ever pre-registered, with about 1,000 paying up front for the privilege of being exhibited, said host club Kontinentals chief Steve Wertheimer. And while Friday's weather was all you could ask for with warm southerly breezes and occasional sun in the mid seventies, a Texas-style Blue Norther blew through for close-to-record cold temperatures all day Saturday. The 45-degree high seemed to lessen spectator attendance only slightly, while car owners huddled inside their vehicles, and vendors selling crawfish etouffee, hot chocolate and authentic old-style Pendleton shirts turned healthy profits.

The cars came from all over Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, and California. And in the case of bomber-seated rat rods or the seemingly large percentage with blowers blocking drivers' visibility, it couldn't have been an easy trip. More cars seemed to be cruising on bagged air this year, so that might have made the highways a little smoother, but just as many traditional style rods made it to the show on skinny bias ply tires.

Rat rods and freaks were abundant, in the classic forms of oxidization and eyeball-tetanus inducing run-whatever-you-unearthed-on-the-back-forty, slap some form of rubber on it and rev it on up. Crosscut sawblades make excellent visors. Massive multilinked chains used to drive drill bits on oilrigs can be welded together for bumpers that proclaim outta my way. Tractor seats let you know that the driver is a hard ass. A lot of rat rod motivation seems to come from a general up-your-exhaust aesthetic compared to the somewhat fussier custom crowd and a year zero obliteration of traditional hotrod date-coded accuracy.

Big Trucks were also big news at the event, and with most everything imaginable done to pick-ups, builders turned their creative efforts to 1950s-era, over-the-road big rigs, ton and ton and a half behemoths with modern diesels turning at least one turbocharger, 30s era shells built to support a cooling system under the hood so that a mid-engine diesel could sit behind it, duallies spinning enough rubber to shoe twenty Minis, school buses both short and long, a whole row of utility vans, and the ever popular fast and bulbous cab-overs. Meticulous restorations sat next to satin jobs that started out as original colors but ended up flattened and metalicized into something truly special. A plethora of patinas glowed with the pride of thorough use, and commercial purposes from electrical companies, municipalities, school districts, repair services, florists, and even old speed shops, were proclaimed in faded letters on the doors. A few might have been ersatz, with the word rusty used fairly often, but they all had a lot of heart.

Some cars arrived in trailers, but nobody would begrudge protection to some of the gorgeous lengthened and lowered customs sporting mile deep paint, often in subtle hues to accentuate their flowing lines. Barely pre and slightly post-war works of art dotted their traditional place of honor near on the hillside near the show's entrance.

As long as it was American-built and pre-1963, there was a place for it at the Round Up. From bathtub Nash wagons to gassers to tri-fives and deuces to driveway Frankensteins exhibiting the full spectrum of fabrication skills to tow trucks that would make 'Mater seem like a stuck up beauty queen, it was there on four wheels at the 17th Lonestar Round Up.