a Cobra (or Daytona Coupe or GT40) aficionado, you're a member
in good standing of a splendid community of fellow Shelby-metal
owners and admirers. From my 35+ years of photographing and driving
and writing about Cobras and Daytona Coupes and GT40s, I estimate
that at least 99.7% of our area-of-interest brethren are
certifiably fine chaps in every respect. Probably a conservative
estimate. What other fraternity could you join that you could
summarize so glowingly?
the less there is that lamentable 0.3%. You may have heard them
characterized as "the fringe," or "the
few bad apples in the barrel," "assault squads,"
or as one club president astutely labeled them, "bushwhackers."
As an unfortunate corollary, though, that 99.7% tend to be "The
Silent Majority," while the 0.3% bad apples tend to
be loud and obnoxious and fixed in a perpetual attack mode. Cynical
assumptions and unfounded accusations constitute their raison
d'être (reason for existence). I've periodically been
on these bushwhackers' hit list, as have others in the industry.
About 10 or 11 years ago, when I was at the very epicenter of
the illegal (indeed: criminal) practices of a large, Florida-based
telepredator in the kit car industry, I received a particularly
vicious "personal assault" letter from one of that
firm's customers. In thoroughly predictable fashion, the fellow
challenged my reporting, asserted that nothing that I had reported
was truethat (verbatim) "It is you, Mr. Scott,
who should be indicted." Moreover, in the unfailing
pattern of all cynics, I had to possess some ulterior, avaricious
motive... I was writing those investigatory articles only because
they weren't an advertiser. Sigh. Quite true, they weren't an
advertiser... but only due to the fact that I had kicked them
out as an advertiser out 2 or 3 years before (and when I booted
them out, they were our LARGEST advertiser). Bushwhacker du
jour wasn't aware of those facts... simply because he never
bothered to ask. Once someone sets sail to pursue a cynical agenda,
the very last thing he seeks to do is run it aground on a shoal
of rock-solid facts. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon (i.e.,
his accusing me of having a sinister motive) as "projected
personality," whereby he, with his clearly-manifest
agenda, accuses his target (me) of possessing an agenda. In any
event, the accusation of possessing some avaricious motive clearly
seems to be a reflex condition pervading the DNA of The Fringe.
bushwhacker had engaged in all of the predictable assault tactics
of The Fringe, including taking for granted that his assumptions
were facts... not only before he assaulted me... but more
pertinent to this story... before his kit was delivered.
You see, he hadn't yet taken delivery, he'd merely sent them
a lot of money, and he was incensed that I had found fault with
his provider of choice.
shucks, shuffle shuffle, there's a marvelous conclusion to that
more than 3 years after he'd paid for his kit in full, long after
he'd mailed that poisonous missive to me, his kit was finally
delivered to him. Everything I'd cautioned the world about that
firm was right on target: the quality of both fiberglass body
parts and the chassis was universally wretched; nothing fit;
more parts were missing than were delivered; the weld quality
was abysmal and the paint was already peeling off the frame rails;
he was charged more than SEVEN TIMES what he'd been quoted to
deliver his kit (the firm's boiler-room bunco artist had quoted
him $350; he was charged over $2600). Moreover, he'd phoned them
no fewer than 75 times over that 3-year period to demand his
kit without ever getting even a single returned call... then
another few dozen calls thereafter to demand his missing parts...
the roster of grievances went on and on. Did he ever contact
me to apologize? You gotta be kidding... after all, this fine
fellow was a charter member of the 0.3% bushwhacker fringe.
I learned of these final-inning details purely by chancein
a phone call from the owner of the shop he'd contracted to take
over the well-nigh impossible task of assembling his crappy kit.
Sometime in 1995 I received a phone call from a long-time college-buddy
friend on the east coast, during which he cautioned me against
participating in Internet "forums." Seems he'd joined
some topical discussion group, and promptly became concerned
that some postings seemed to be a bit unfriendly. He didn't think
too much about it. Then in one of his postings he aroused the
ire of some woman in Los Angeles, who accused him of being "a
male-chauvinist pig" and "an a--hole," among other
disparaging terms. He reread his posting, and altho' he couldn't
fathom what had offended her, none the less he apologized profusely,
only to have her proceed with her attack, even enlisting a couple
of her colleagues to broaden the assault in subsequent postings.
Ms. Bushwhacker's initial personal assault catapulted (in
predictable forum fashion) into a full-blown lynch mob.
Dismayed, my friend abandoned the discussion group altogether.
He advised me to never make the mistake of partaking in
an online forum, concluding that the topical forum of his regrettable
experience was populated mostly by nice people, but that they
were intimidated and browbeat by "a pool of circling
sharks" representing only a microscopic fraction of
time my friend's admonition faded from my memory. Sometime in
1996 or early '97 I received an email from a reader who was urging
me to set up a forum on KitCar, and he asked me to look up a
specific site, which was some street rod subsite, as I recall
on GeoCities, and he asked me to let him know what I thought
of the site and how it worked. So I called up the site, whereupon
the very first posting I read was some fellow who was thinking
about purchasing a street rod kit from that same telepredator
I referred to above. Seems he'd heard that there might be some
of my friend's warning, I replied to this fellow's post, providing
him with details about quality considerations; moreover, I went
to my databases and looked up and provided him with the names/
numbers of several people in the industry (including 2 or 3 of
the firm's customer/victims) who were better qualified than I
to expand upon quality concerns of that specific kit. I added
that the firm was under investigation by several state and federal
agencies. I concluded by stating that the reason I was aware
of all of this was because I'd conducted an intensive investigation
and had recently published an 11,000+ word investigatory article
in my "Complete Guide to Cobra Replicas" about
the firm and its business practices and product concerns, and
that if he had further specific questions, he was welcome to
should've been the end of the story. But only 2 or 3 days later
the same reader who had originally asked me to look up the site,
emailed me again, almost sheepishly, to advise me that I should
read the subsequent postings on that site. I called up the site,
and was astonished to read a reply posting (from the 0.3% bushwhacker
fringe) that demanded "Who is 'Curt Scott'? Why couldn't
he just answer the guy's question instead of trying to sell him
a book?" This was a preposterous accusation, since that
fellow was looking to purchase a street rod, not a Cobra. And
another posting from a fellow bushwhacker stated "Yeah,
why couldn't he just provide more details." I guess
these b-whackers would've been satisfied only if I had sat there
for 8 or 9 hours and keyboarded-in all 11,000 words of that article.
Sigh. That was the first time... and I assure you, the last
time... I've ever posted anything on a forum.
A couple of years ago, one forum bushwhacker (one Wayne McAllaster
of Fremont, California) was having such fun assaulting me during
a Jerry Springer-style forum attackfest, he just
couldn't get enough of it. So he decided to assault me via personal
email; in true bushwhacker fashion he emailed me a series
of particularly vicious missives, during the course of which
he accused me of having cheated him in some fashion or another.
He felt such conviction that I'd cheated him, in fact, that he
changed his name to "Craig Morgan" and emailed his
poisonous missives from what he confidently deemed to be a fail-safe
anonymous Hotmail account. Shucks, if you think someone
has cheated you, would you elect to change your name and tender
your accusation by "anonymous" email? But that's the
modus operandi of the bushwhacker fringe. I've been advised
that Mr. McAllaster/ Morganwhatever he's calling
himself this weekhas been at a number of carshows I've
attended and covered... but, in unfailing bushwhacker form, he
scurries away like the proverbial scared rabbit when he
sees me heading in his direction.
jaded erstwhile participant in a forum emailed me his reason
for abandoning forums altogether: "Instead of being an
enlightening discussion group, it more closely resembles a symposium
of cynics and party spoilers, most of them spending their time
congratulating one another about how wonderful and informative
their site is."
idea of a forum is fine in theory... it's the reality
that spoils it for all the rest of us. I've been advised by several
people that there are hopeful signs that the administrators of
many of the Internet forumsperhaps for legal-liability
considerationsare less tolerant of abuses and personal
assaults today than in the past. None the less, occasionally
each forum reveals its susceptibility to be a bully pulpit
for the 0.3% bushwhacker fringe. And that's why you're unlikely
to ever see a forum/ discussion group on CobraCountry.
to worry. I'll carry on, traveling and writing and photographing
and covering Cobra and GT40 events and editorializing for you
and the rest of that 99.7%; it's unlikely I'll lose much sleep
that I'm not accommodating that 0.3% riding drag at the back
of the herd.
Today I received what is no doubt a sincere and contrite (and
signed!) email response from a Cobra replica owner in northern
California that reads in part:
Curt... I just finished reading your bushwackers editorial...
Im sure Im one of those people your writing about... you may
recognize my name... let me just say my comments were ill considred
and unfair and out of character and you have my very sincere
heavens! There may be hope for the species just yet.
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