May 29, 2007
Goodness gracious, it’s that time of the year again to roll the good ol’ drop-topper out of storage and show it off to fellow car nuts at your favorite collector car show. Alas, here in theGreat Lakes area it’s been a cold and wet spring — global warning notwithstanding — and I almost forgot to give you the car-show calendar and commentary.
As always, for major car shows it is heavy duty in June and August, unaccountably slow for July. June is heavily front-loaded with many events the first weekend.
First up in the Motor City area is Ypsilanti’s appealing 11th Annual Orphan Car Show, held in a park on the banks of the Huron River , Sunday, June 3. This show draws a wonderful turnout of the near-forgotten ordinary cars of yesteryear, brands usually long discontinued, cars people other than the always rich can identify with. For instance, the Nash Ambassadors of the Thirties and Forties remind me of my father’s cars.
Orphan’s theme for 2007 is Kalamazoo-built cars, mainly Checker, known for its roomy taxicabs with Chevy engines. The show site is easy walking distance from Ypsi’s Depot Town restaurants and Jack Miller’s famed “last Hudson dealer” museum of Ypsi-associated cars.
If you can believe internet search engines, other communities — Phoenix, Ariz., and Portland, Oregon, for example — are emulating Ypsilanti’s orphan car theme, understandably catering to the discontinued-brand collector cars enjoyed far from Motor City territory.
Chicago’s Chi-Town Kruze also hits its third year Saturday, June 2, but has become more of a Woodward Dream Cruise kind of cruising event than a static car display.
As long as we’re momentarily astray of Michigan, let me note that on the Left Coast there is a new Concours d’Elegance marking its second year, the L.A. Concours held on a country club golf course in historic Pasadena, also the first Saturday in June. Southern California, as most everyone knows, is an automotive nut mecca and I find it odd that it has not previously put on such a notable event (but note Palos Verdes show later in this report).
And on the effete East Coast, the first June weekend also will see the 12th Annual Greenwich Concours d’Elegance for American cars 1900 to present on Saturday and the Concours Europa on Sunday. The event is held in a park right on Long Island Sound.
Back to Michigan, Saturday, June 9 is the date set for an RM Auction of more than 80 cars from Pontiac dealer John McMullen’s large collection, to be held at Metamora, Mich. , north of the Detroit Metro area. Usually such auctions are held in connection with major classic car shows such as Pebble or Meadow Brook or at popular resort watering holes. In this case, the venue is McMullen’s farm and collector-car storage facilities, but may also appeal to ordinary folks because of the selection of rare Pontiacs included. (Full disclosure: I wrote some of the catalogue descriptions for this auction.)
Sunday, June 10, is the date set for the 44th Annual Carnival of Cars at the historic Packard Proving Grounds in Utica, Mich., the other side of metro Detroit . This show, under the auspices of the Michigan Region, Classic Car Club of America, features both car exhibits and flea market, er, swap meet. I would expect the Packard boys to be out in force, as well as other collector cars from the nearby northeast suburbs.
Third weekend of June is a triple header, the case of you can’t be two places at once so you’ll have to choose. On the west side of the metro area, it’s Motor Muster time at Greenfield Village both Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th. Saturday’s programs include bicycle parade at 11 a.m., 1933-49 model car procession at 11:30 a.m. and 1950-59 cars at 2 p.m. In addition, at 1 p.m, Saturday there’s a lecture by author Marsha Ackerman on her new book about auto air conditioning and all day the Benson Ford Research Center (Ford Archives) will be holding a rummage sale of its duplicate materials.
The Sunday program at Greenfield Village comprises the motorcycle and motor scooter parade at 10 a.m., commercial vehicles at 11 a.m., and 1960-76 model cars at 12:30 p.m. Narration both days will be provided by some of autodom’s most knowledgeable historians and authors.
At the same time Sunday, June 17, Father’s Day, on metro Detroit’s far east side at the Edsel Ford estate on Lake St. Clair, the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology and the automotive design corps will present the 20th Annual Eyes on Design car show. This year the fund-raiser’s theme is Aerodynamics and Streamlining by Design.
Vehicle categories at Eyes include a potpourri of Fastbacks, Fins, American Classics of the 1920s and 1930s, Prewar Ford Design Evolution, European Postwar, Sports, Exotics, Pro-Touring, Rat Rods, Rod & Custom, 50th Anniversary ’57 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, Motorcycles, and Aero Muscle, Race and Tuners. In addition there are “special displays” of Chaparral Race Cars and Pedal Cars. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Another Father’s Day event we’ve covered in the past is the Ohio Region CCA’s Annual Classic, Antique and Collector Car Show at Akron ’s Stan Hywet Hall . Cars from 1896 to 1978 will be displayed and judged in 25 classes, plus two special exhibits, one on “Future Classics” and the other featuring film star Greer Garson’s 1939 Cadillac. This event claims to be the nation’s second oldest car show in America . Wonder who’s Number One?
The fourth weekend of the month, classics fans will head to Northern Michigan for the Bay Harbor Concours Festival, Friday and Saturday, June 22-23, featuring both “motor cars and motor boats.” In the past there was an attempt to include antique seaplanes at Bay Harbor but it was hard to lure them from Alaska where most survivors now live.
We can all wish these June car shows cool, breezy days with NO RAIN ALLOWED. If our wishes are granted, I may even roll out my own recently acquired collector, a ’65 Comet convertible.
It must be noted that the Gilmore Car Museum near Kalamazoo , with its fabulous collection of classics, opened May 1 for the season and holds some sort of car event practically every summer weekend, beginning June 3 with a CCCA recognition of Cadillac. Of special note are its British car show July 8, Mopar event July 28, and Pierce-Arrow “gathering” August 26.
Big August events
In the Detroit area, there are two big August events, Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance Sunday, August 5, and Woodward Dream Cruise, arguably the biggest car event in the world, Saturday, August 18. In addition there is a new and possibly unique automotive event looming for the following Saturday, August 25, a true urban car show, Detroit Festival of Speed and Style, planned for downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius plaza athwart lower Woodward Avenue. I’m not aware of any other major inner-city static car show.
Detroit big shots will be torn two ways again in August, with the Dream Cruise the day before the most prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Sunday, August 19, overlooking the Pacific. Within any given corporation, I guess they must draw straws to see who goes where.
September brings us back to Greenfield Village, Dearborn, for the annual Old Car Festival, Saturday and Sunday, September 8 and 9. This event, which was one of the first automotive vintage car shows I ever attended nearly 50 years ago, covers vehicles up through 1932 models — in contrast with June’s Motor Muster for cars from 1933-76. Authors Dr. Charles K. Hyde will lecture on Dodge history Saturday and Larry Gustin on Buick history Sunday. Displays and parades involve early bicycles, motorcycles, and trucks as well as cars.
Wrapping up the 2007 season will be the Antique Automobile Club of America’s annual Eastern Fall Meet at Hershey, Penna., autodom’s largest flea market, Thursday through Sunday, October 10-13.
No doubt there are many significant regional shows, as well as Brand Nationals that I’ve overlooked. The problem is knowing where to stop. Here are a few I’ve not mentioned in previous calendars: 41st Palo Alto Concours on the Stanford campus, June 24; 35th Annual Forest Grove, Oregon, Concours, July 15; Keeneland Concours, Lexington, Ky., August 25; Palos Verdes, Calif., Concours, September 16; the second (but not annual) New York City Concours, Central Park, September 28-30, and the 6th Annual Hilton Head Concours, November 4.
Two Southland events that we’ve missed already this year were the Amelia Island, Fla., Concours, March 21, and the Houston, Tex. , 12th Annual Keels & Wheels Concours, May 5-6.
Calling All Deuces—Back to Dearborn by Marty Padgett (5/2/2007)
Ford plans 75th anniversary for hot-rod icon.
Detroit Revs Up with Dream Cruise by TCC Team (8/21/2006)
Automakers show up in style, including Wagoner and the Camaro.
Pebble Beach Reaches New Heights by TCC Team (8/21/2006)
A $200 million used car lot.