Classic Car Culture

Appreciation of the automobile is an all-American past-time.

by Brenda Kissko

Transcript of Layer Cake Podcast Episode #5

Welcome to Layer Cake!

I'm your host, Dr. Angela Brumett, and this is your English fluency podcast. Layer Cake is sponsored by Parlay Vacay English Immersion Weekends. Build your English fluency online and in person at beautiful and relaxing destinations.

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For this episode, Layer Cake is honored to feature the work of American freelance writer Brenda Kissko. Brenda is a freelance writer, designer and marketer. You can find out more about Brenda on

Layer Cake presents "Classic Car Culture" by Brenda Kissko.

Route 66 lures all, from street rods to muscle cars.

We are probably the closest-knit family you could ever find because most of the time we can read each other’s minds and know what is needed without ever having to say it,” says Mona Roberts from Ralls, 30 miles east of Lubbock, Texas.

Roberts lives and works with her sister Melinda and mother, Laverne, and the mind reading refers to the family business of restoring vintage cars and trucks. Laverne Roberts, who turns 80 this month, has been restoring vehicles in Ralls for more than 40 years.

In that time, Roberts’ family has restored more than 50 vehicles, including a 1947 Willys Jeep, 1970 Ford Mustang convertible, 1961 Airstream travel trailer and 1974 International Scout II.

Laverne’s father was a John Deere mechanic in Crosbyton, where he also farmed. Laverne grew up on the farm and became a bookkeeper for a motor company in Crosbyton, where she met mechanic Lon Roberts. Three months later, they married. For date nights, they went to Lubbock to see movies and then to Hi-D-Ho, a popular drive-in burger joint where Buddy Holly and The Crickets played.

Lon and Laverne raised their three girls in Crosbyton before opening Lon’s Auto Clinic in Ralls in 1987. Restoring cars became a family affair when Mona was the first daughter to turn 16, and they restored a 1967 Ford Mustang convertible for her to drive.

“When we restore them, it’s a family project,” Mona says. “We restored them as we got enough money together to restore them. Dad was the mechanic, and I was the painter. Melinda's the paint mixer, and Mama’s usually the hose holder.” They laugh as they fondly remember car restorations together.

Mona and her dad were both pilots—Mona also is an airplane mechanic—and went out on “morning patrol” together on Saturdays, when they’d fly around in a Cessna 150 to look for old cars they could restore. Mona would mark the map so later they could drive out to find the owner.

Lon died in 2015, but he left his girls a few projects. A 1954 Ford F-100 pickup and a 1940 Chevrolet half-ton pickup are two of the vehicles they’re working on now. And Laverne and Mona continue to do state vehicle inspections at Auto Clinic.

Though Laverne’s middle daughter, Michele, doesn’t work on cars, Michele’s son Nick inherited that talent, having restored a 1960 Ford Thunderbird and a 1946 Cushman Scooter (at age 11), making him a fourth-generation mechanic.

Car culture in America has influenced the development of our cities, our highways and the businesses along the way. When horsepower replaced horses, we paved our streets. When we began driving longer distances and for pleasure, roadside diners, service stations and motels appeared.

And car culture shows no signs of slowing down. Since 2010, the number of antique, classic and custom vehicles registered with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, including street rods, has more than doubled.

In December 2017, there were 187,958 vehicles registered with the Texas DMV categorized as antique, vintage, custom or street rods. This is up 147 percent from the 76,171 registered in December of 2009. The state defines a “classic” as a motor vehicle that is at least 25 years old. An “antique” is at least 25 years old and a collector’s item. A car with antique plates has restricted use.

Bob Terhune, a South Plains Electric Cooperative member, is president of the Caprock Classic Car Club, based in Lubbock. The club’s 194 members meet regularly for cruises, fundraisers and fellowship. Terhune says he “got the bug” for restoring classic cars when he worked on a 1970 Buick GSX, number 160 of the 187 made that were white.

Buick only made two cars with the same options as his. He knows the entire history of this car: It was in an episode of Hawaii 5-O, was bought by a serviceman in the Navy who hauled it from Hawaii to Louisiana, sat in a barn in North Texas for 15 years, and passed through several more owners, including Terhune’s brother, before ending up with him.

“These cars are rolling works of art,” Terhune says. “And they’re fun to drive. There’s something about taking a rusty, worn-out automobile and making it look new again. That satisfaction of seeing your hard work pay off and the appreciation that like-minded people give you for the work you’ve done, it’s just something else.”

Car shows are a prime opportunity for enthusiasts and collectors to show off their work. In addition to the Route 66 Festival car show in Shamrock, Texas in July, there are countless car shows across the state. Motor Texas ( keeps a list along with a blog that digs deep into the automobile culture of Texas through the lens of travel.

Today, vehicle ownership rates in the U.S. are down 3.3 percent from 12 years ago. As we look to a new era of transportation, it’s impressive to see so many families restoring these classics. “To restore cars together was a pleasure,” Laverne Roberts says. “It meant that my family all worked together.”

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Brenda Kissko

Brenda Kissko is a freelance writer, designer, and marketer focusing on travel, nature, literature, faith and community. A Texas native, she has lived in West Virginia and is currently based in Arizona.

Brenda grew up on a West Texas ranch, influenced by the healing power of nature. She writes for people navigating their way through life with a message of unplugging and living to the fullest.

Brenda has finished her first novel, a coming-of-age story set in West Texas.

For more info., please visit her at

Layer Up your English!

These items may be useful before and/or after listening to the recorded episode.

Key concepts are followed by the Vocabulary and Phrases then Questions for understanding and Discussion Topics.

Items are presented in the order they appear and are defined only as used in the featured piece (other uses may exist).

Key Concepts

all-American: possessing qualities characteristic of American ideals.

past-time: a hobby or enjoyable way to spend free time

Route 66: a famous scenic cross-country highway created to provide a means for tourists to see important sites in the US

restore: to return something to its original condition and purpose

classic car: an older car of historical interest to collectors who restore and preserve it

works of art: things which are very attractively presented or artistically detailed

seeing your hard work pay off: seeing good results from your heavy efforts

Vocabulary & Phrases

lures: attracts to bring in

closest-knit: most intimate

mind reading/read each other’s minds:

turns 80: becomes the age of 80

vintage: typical of a past era

collector’s item: something of interest to collectors

plate: license identification letters and numbers on the backs of vehicles

John Deere: a well-known American tractor company

date night: a prearranged occasion when a couple, especially one with children, go out together.

drive-in burger joint: a very common and informal way to refer to a business, usually one that sells food or drink in a casual setting.

drive-in restaurant: a business which serves food to customers who park and remain in their vehicles while they eat.

where Buddy Holly and the Crickets played: where two popular bands of the 1950s decade performed their music

raised their three girls: provided a home for their three daughters

a family affair: a matter or situation that remains within a family

got enough money together: saved or accumulated a necessary amount of money

hose holder: someone who handles the long tube through which water passes often used to water plants or wash objects outdoors

morning patrol: a tour of an area in the morning to observe conditions in that area

he left his girls a few projects: he left behind a few projects for his daughters to do

middle daughter: any daughter who is not the oldest or youngest in the family

horsepower: a common unit of power measuring the rate that work is done by machines

paved: describes ground covered with concrete, asphalt, stones, or bricks.

roadside diners: a restaurant near a main road for travelers, traditionally with booth seating

service station: a gas station which offers common vehicle repairs and maintenance

motel: hotel lodging designed for motorists or people driving long distances

custom car: a passenger vehicle that has been altered to improve its appearance and/or performance

street rods: a vehicle manufactured before 1949 that has been modified for travel on today's highways.

fundraiser: an event or process of asking for and gathering voluntary financial contributions

fellowship: a friendly association, especially between people have something in common

got the bug: to suddenly be excited about something. Also “to be bitten by the bug.”

episode of Hawaii 5-O: one chapter of a popular TV police drama set in Hawaii in the 1970s

hauled: pulled or dragged by force, usually by a truck

rusty: corroded (metal)

worn-out: not useful anymore because of too much use

like-minded: having similar thoughts

something else: something exceptional

car shows: events which present cars of value to attendees

prime opportunity: uniquely valuable opportunity

to show off: to display someone or something as source of pride

countless: too many to be counted

across the state(s): from border to border over a large distance

digs deep: goes further than the surface or the superficial

through the lens of travel: from the unique perspective of a traveler


navigating (their) way: figuring out how to do something new

unplugging: spending time away from electronic and battery-powered devices

living to the fullest: enjoying the best life possible

coming-of-age: the time leading to when a young adult reaches maturity and makes the transition from child to adult

Questions for Understanding

1. Why does the Roberts family restore older automobiles?

2. What other changes occurred in the United States after horsepower replaced horses?

3. What did Mona and her father do during "morning patrol" ?

4. What are the purposes of car shows?

Discussion Topics

1. How have automobiles shaped the history of your city, region, or country?

2. Describe your perfect automobile-- or alternative means of transportation.

3. What sorts of vintage or antique items do you admire and why?

4. Describe a project or achievement when your hard work really paid off.

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