Is your Hot Rod legit?

Is your Hot Rod legit?

I was riding my motorcycle down to Laguna Seca last Sunday to watch MotoGP racing. It was a nice, leisurely cruise down Highway 101 until a CHP pickup truck lit ’em up in my rear view mirror. It took me a moment to realize he actually wanted me to pull over, and not some random pothead weaving across the lanes on a cell phone. I was only going 5 or 6 mph over the limit, riding with a full face helmet on a fairly new, registered, and reasonably stock and tame Moto Guzzi V-11. I pulled over and did all the right things in order: Engine off, side stand down, helmet off, stayed on the bike. He immediately started asking about the exhaust (fairly quiet factory performance pipes), the missing rear fender (which I cut down a bit), and random custom bits. He runs my license and registration and then comes back with the ticket book out.

“How fast was I going, anyway?”

“Oh I’m not going to write you for speeding today…” (probably because I really wasn’t) “Your missing the reflector below the license plate.”

Seriously? Yeah, I got a fix it ticket for no rear reflector and no dedicated plate light, which I threw in the trash when I cut the gargantuan rear fender down 7 years ago after I bought the bike. I just shook my head in disbelief and went on my way without giving Johnny Law any more reason to fret. If I had 10″ drag pipes, or ape hangers a mile high, I would have taken the ticket easily, but this was pure desperation to find some small thing wrong with my bike.

This made me think about how fortunate I’ve been with my old hot rod. No fenders, plate light, bumpers, hood, turn signals, real seat belts, or even wipers. I don’t even know what the California Vehicle Code book says about my roadster’s legality, but I’m sure it’s not good. Truth is, I don’t think most of us get pulled over in our old cars very often because the majority of Police aren’t out to get us- They’ve got bigger fish to fry, and *most* of them respect a guy driving a 70 or 80 year old period-customized car. Truthfully, I only got a small taste of what every hot rodder was getting after the war and well into the mid 50s, until the SCTA, NHRA, and organized clubs began to work with the Police to keep our hobby from becoming totally illegal.

So, how legit is your hot rod?


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