Reno’s streets are a little emptier at the close of another Hot August Nights. The vintage car show wrapped up its 29th year on Sunday. Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey caught up with one car collector and brings us this audio postcard.
“My name is Len Trout, I have a 1975 Hurst/Olds, W-30, one of 600 year they made that year."
Trout’s parents paid $5,200 for his barely used Oldsmobile about a year after it came out.
“Her name is White Lady,” he says.
It was his senior year of high school and he has a long list of historical place markers to remember the era.
“Disco, but I’m sorry, it’s dead," he laughs. "[And] rock ‘n' roll .... gas crisis ... economy ... new president ... Gerald Ford …”
After marriage and two kids, he switched to more practical transportation, but never abandoned the coupe.
“Your priorities change, but I held onto it," he says. "I moved it from weed-filled back fences to side yards to putting it on top of old 4-by-8 sheets of plywood so it wouldn’t get muddy and sink in the mud.”
As a native Nevadan, he’s been a regular fixture at Hot August Nights and dues-paying member of the Oldsmobile Club of America.
“In 2011, when the Oldsmobile Club of America came here to Reno, the only time I had it judged, it scored 991 out of 1,000 and I got first place,” he says.
Trout says he wishes General Motors hadn’t discontinued the Oldsmobile. Until they phased it out, it was one of the oldest American auto brands.
After 40 years of constant companionship, Trout says, it would take a lot to part with his White Lady.
“Would I ever sell it? That’s a tough question," he says. "Everybody has their price, but you can’t put a price on history.”
To Trout, and many of the other gear heads at Hot August Nights, his car is more than just a collectible hunk of metal, it’s his partner, friend and personal time machine.