It's the fundamental reason behind the creation of Asphalt Ego-Rama, Tom's Fun Run, the Hot Rod Power Tour, Americruise, the Street Rodder Road Tour, and every other on-the-road run ever organized, and should be the fundamental reason behind the creation of any hot rod or custom car. It's not winning a trophy. It's not getting your picture taken. It's the thrill of climbing behind the wheel, firing the engine, and driving your car.

Jim and Eleanor Sheldon don't need to be told this. The '56 Olds Super 88 two-door hardtop they drove from Michigan to California to compete in Ego-Rama V is their means of participating in a hobby they've been living their entire lives.

The '56 Oldsmobile the Sheldons were driving when they got married was too new to be considered a classic, but even then, Jim says he thought the car had a lot of class. A few years later, it hauled the Sheldons on family vacations and on the cross-country journey to California when Jim had to report for Navy duty on the West Coast.

This two-tone '56 probably reminds Jim and Eleanor a little of that earlier Olds and of those road trips in the early '60s, but nostalgia wasn't strong enough to keep Jim from building his new Olds with some performance components-and a level of detail-that was unknown 40 year ago.

Most of the car is homebuilt with a bit of assistance, notably from Detroit Speed & Engineering and Motor City Classics. The first Sheldon family '56 never had a 385-horse Chevy FastBurn small-block, a Camaro subframe muscled up with performance suspension parts and four-wheel disc brakes, 17-inch billet rims, and Z-rated tires. This car has all that and more. But even with all the modifications and upgrades Jim injected into his current ride, none of the original "class" he talks about was removed or hidden. Door handles, trim pieces, the interior, and all of the '56 style that the Sheldons loved about their first Olds were retained on this car. Jim and Eleanor may even end up covering as many miles with their new Olds as they did with their first. But when you start talking about performance, all similarities cease.

Jim & Eleanor Sheldon Livonia, Michigan '56 Oldsmobile