Archive for August 2011
“Don’t worry, that’s just liquid sun!” a DJ boomed over the show’s speaker system.
The owner of a convertible 1965 Ford Mustang started her engine and closed the black leather top down on her car.
It was raining on the last day of July, at a car show. Any other year the moderate drizzle might have been enough to send spectators running for the hills. Luckily most of the people in attendance were La Nina-hardened Vitamin D deficient north westerners that didn’t seem to care; the show had to go on.
Chubby Checker’s ‘The Twist’ began blasting desperately over the speaker system.
“Anyone who’s got the twist in them needs to start twisting to keep warm!” The DJ yelled,
“Oh! She’s got it!”
She did have it. Damn if that song doesn’t still get people moving.
UNOFFICIAL BEST IN SHOW
-1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass station wagon.
Dubbed the ‘Brown Bomber’ by its owners, it was no coincidence the Oldsmobile Cutlass became America’s best-selling car in ’76; the early to mid-seventies marked a slow decline in taste amidst the American auto industry. No one knew any better and the Cutlass reigned supreme.
In 1978 the Cutlass would be downsized to GM’s new A-Body, cutting its curb weight to a relatively petit 3,300 pounds, establishing its predecessors such as the Brown Bomber wagon as one of the last true family boat-mobiles (1).
-1972 Ford F-250 Camper Special
There’s just something about old pickup trucks. This beauty was for sale and had a tiny shivering dog trapped in its cabin, unable to twist to keep warm. He leapt barking at the windows whenever a passerby came near, perhaps to defend the truck, perhaps in a desperate plea to be rescued before the hypothermia set in.
In the owner’s absence prospective buyers were left to wonder if he neglected oil changes the way he did the dog, but that wasn’t enough to discount the strong selling point that Ford Camper Special pickups were built with higher GVWR ratings to accommodate the added weight of a camper and all the fun things pickup folk would pack into them.
This F-250 looked like it had plenty of trips left in it, and possibly a free dog thrown in with its purchase.
-1931 Ford Model A coupe, with Coors Light beer trailer
Beer trailer? Beer trailer!
The Model A sold close to five million units between 1927 and 1931 – an amazing feat by modern standards, but not once during its production years did a Model A roll off the assembly line with a beer trailer full of Coors Light behind it (2).
For years this obvious design flaw went unnoticed until a noble lady of the hotrod scene took the initiative to design, or possibly buy her very own beer trailer, one that appeared to also serve as a cooler. The craftsmanship of it was professional and in step with the year of the car.
She sat proudly behind the hotrod Rocky Mountain ride and discussed good morning-time beach drinks with passersby, one of which asked her if she had seen his small yappy dog anywhere.
-1967 Ford Thunderbird
Suicide doors are the elegant non-douchebag counterpart to Lamborghini (scissor) doors. The sixties showcased the suicide door on luxury vehicles such as the Lincoln Continental and this fifth generation ’67 Ford Thunderbird, considered to be Ford’s personal luxury car.
How does a ‘personal’ car originally conceived as a coupe wind up with suicide doors you ask?
In 1958 it was then Ford executive, Robert McNamara that pushed for the Thunderbird lineup to include a four-seater model in order to increase its sales potential to a broader audience, resulting in the first suicide door Thunderbird in 1967 (3).
By that time McNamara was serving as United States Secretary of Defense and pushing for the escalation of the Vietnam War.
“All he did was create suicide machines, man!” A Volkswagen hippie bus chimed in.
It was promptly ticketed and towed violently from the premises.
Perhaps the most telling moment of the show was on display in front of the Bikini Beach Swimwear Shop. A canvas-top H1 Hummer was parked in front of the store’s display window with a surfboard strapped to the front brush guard and a chrome mannequin in the truck bed sporting a sexy bikini. The shop’s logo was painted on the Hummer’s door.
Behind the Hummer, five beautiful immaculately tanned young ladies stood shivering and smiling in teeny-weeny bikinis. They posed for pictures with pedestrians and climbed into the back of the Hummer for photographs with the mannequin.
“Aren’t you a little underdressed for the weather?” An old codger yelled at them.
The girls laughed and convinced him to climb into the back of the Hummer for a picture. He left with a coupon and a big grin on his face. There were more cars to be seen and no amount of drizzle was going to dampen the mood.
Check out the vehicles mentioned above in the photo albums portion of the page at:
Most people who cross state lines in a car they don’t own and didn’t pay for probably never had a stable father figure in their lives. My dad was nestled in safely in the rear seat of our 2012 Volvo XC70 as we cruised majestically over the Columbia River for a week’s worth of wholesome family vacation on the Oregon coast.
Pride radiated from his eyes; the luxury press car was borrowed legally from Volvo’s press fleet with no strings attached beyond the cost of fuel and several things written into the small print of the contract I had signed but didn’t care to be made nervous of by mentioning aloud.
There was good reason to take such precautions. Volvo’s XC90 won the luxury division of the Northwest Auto Press Association’s Mudfest this year, (http://tinyurl.com/3zdxqk2) beating out competition from Land Rover and Mercedes just to name a few.
As a card carrying member of the NWAPA, it was my duty to hold the XC70 to the same scrutinizing lens, despite any amount of giddiness it might inspire.
It had arrived the previous day in front of my lowly studio apartment in Seattle, polished to perfection in Caspian Metallic Blue.
Property values skyrocketed. Several of my neighbors were driven from their homes by a realtor wielding a length of rubber hose.
Just about any new model year luxury car will make an entire city block pale in comparison when professionally detailed, but there was more to the XC70 than a thin sheen of Turtle Wax glazed expensively over an imported station wagon.
At first glance one would quickly reference the XC70 as such: Station wagon; to be associated with a family of six or more, ill-fated vacations and Chevy Chase’s hilarious follies.
At second glance it was apparent this wasn’t the 1977 Vista Cruiser my dad referenced heavily when he reminisced lovingly of the station wagon’s glory days. Instead of dog dish wheels and fat sloppy rubber, the XC70 had low profile tires, eighteen inch wheels, 8.3 inches of ground clearance and rugged SUV-like styling.
Beneath the glitz a turbocharged three hundred horsepower 3.0L V6 and all-wheel drive system pushed it to an even farther distinction from Volvo’s V70 wagon, into the ever-expanding crossover segment.
For an auto blogger whose bed was shoehorned into a closet atop empty crates of Costco Top Ramen in a studio apartment, being handed the key fob to a $45,000 luxury press car of this brave new variety was the stuff dreams are made of, even without taking into account the rich family bonding it would surely inspire on the trip down to our annual summer getaway in Lincoln City, Oregon.
Stay tuned for incomparable automotive critique and dazzling accounts of all the wonderful things that occurred along the way.