How often do you get to touch an original 1935 Desoto Airflow? Or see a bright red ’51 Ford Vicky that looks like its design was inspired by a sea lion? Since 1900, with the first American auto show in New York’s Madison Square Garden, summer has meant classic cars. Since then, car shows have spread like wildfire. Whatever type of car interests you, whether you prefer the hot dog and beer or the wine and cheese atmosphere, the 2011 summer car show season has it all.
From their hibernation in dusty garages and museums, the rarest, most expensive, and strangest bunch of cars you may ever see emerge each year around this time. There are antiques, like an all original Ford Model T. From its flat wood steering wheel and wood spoke wheels, to its starting crank that can kick back and sometimes break the arm of its owner. This is fun stuff.
There are cars the size of an aircraft carrier, the chrome lover’s dream otherwise known as the ’59 Cadillac. With enough shine to blind a bat, the grill alone has over 300 individual pieces of carefully assembled chrome. Sparkling from the dash, dripping from the sides, this car shines in the summer sun like Liz Taylor’s diamonds. It also comes with a massive trunk, able to hide 20 kids sneaking into the local drive-in theatre, or large enough to carry a spare Volkswagen Beetle.
Classic Car Show
Car shows display cars like the slab-sided ‘61 Lincoln Continental, made famous in the movie “The Matrix.” This is a car that saved the Lincoln brand, and became the infamous Kennedy Presidential limousine. There is the 1970’s Ford Maverick, a car that came in paint colors like Anti-Establish Mint, Freudian Gilt, and Thanks Vermillion, fun colors you won’t see in any showroom today. Other cars include the AMC Gremlin, designed on April Fools’ Day, and whose design was written on a Northwest Airlines air sickness bag. I once even saw a rarely imported Citroen Mehari, a summer beach car built from plastic with the unfortunate tendency to erode away in direct sunlight.
Recently, I attended the Newport Concours D’ Elegance in Newport, RI. This show is a high end, wine and cheese event for rare classics and exotics. They had a beautiful Ferrari Daytona, made famous by its replica on “Miami Vice.” This car was completely designed in seven days, at a time when it normally took a company four years. Also displayed was an ultra-rare convertible designed by the French firm Figoni, a man who loved his creations so much that he included matching gowns, hats and shoes for his customers. There was a Morgan car, an ultra-exotic “gentleman sports car” still made with real ash wood frame rails, and even a 1976 Lincoln Mark V, an overfed and bulky personal luxury car the size of a barge. This three-ton, twenty-foot battleship was built primarily for two passengers in a time of automotive excess.
Car shows are a great way to see and feel automotive history, and an inexpensive way to catch a glimpse of classic car culture. Check out an American Auto Show this year!
Chris Raymond is a guest blogger from Chris on Cars. In exchange for sharing this content, the Allstate Community has compensated him via cash payment.