I met a few guys at the show that convinced me to put a little more effort into the car and drag it along on the car show circuit, since they felt it was clean enough to possibly even place well at some shows. I took their advice and worked at it, and was soon utterly and hopelessly consumed by keeping this car clean and dirt-free. I can honestly say it almost became an obsession. The trophies began to accumulate, and I was on a mission!
Eventually, I began to realize that it was all getting excessive. Instead of focusing on enjoying the car itself, I noticed that a lot of my fellow show participants were obsessed with the trophies and the attention, but hardly enjoyed their car! I began to realize that a lot of the so-called 'street-driven-only' shows were populated by folks who trailered their cars to the event, and unloaded the car mere blocks from the entrance gates, in order to qualify. Meanwhile, I would show up after putting 500 miles on the car getting to the event, and then spend an hour or so cleaning it up in time for judging. Trailering is fine for the classics, where it's worth keeping the yearly mileage low for preservation reasons. But coming in second place behind a trailer queen in the late-model bracket (usually 1980-1990) was hard to take... the cars were hardly over a decade old!
What nailed the coffin shut on my car show obsession was pretty much when someone recommended I spray paint the insides of my wheel wells black, "for the look". At that point, I realized I had to make a choice: put my heart into building a show car from the ground up, or keep it as a daily driver. I chose the latter, and have never regretted it.
I still enjoy participating in the odd show-and-shine now and again. When it's a non-competitive event, most participants tend to be more laid back and simply show up to meet other car nuts. One habit that has remained, though, is my refusal to drive the car in the rain, but now it's more for the car's own good rather than my own selfish reasons. However, if it's nice out, you'll most likely find me behind the wheel of this car, putting on the miles!
Nonetheless, I'll forever have great memories of all the time spent in and around the car prepping it for car shows all over the northeastern area of the continent, and will treasure the trophies and getting to know some good people over the years.