The first thing that overcomes a passionate auto-enthusiast at the Greenwood Car Show is total darkness. Most will suffer a harmless aneurysm and be rendered temporarily unconscious from the sight of over 700 classic vehicles splayed out over 1.5 miles of Greenwood Avenue.
Once recovered, the philandering eye of car lust is free to wander the Northwest’s premier auto show, a gathering committed to celebrating an endlessly eclectic mix of vehicular history.
There’s no better way to describe this year’s joyous gauntlet than with a:
-1936 International Harvester Garbage Truck with a sign in the window that reads, “Please touch this truck”, in the windshield. I didn’t touch it for fear of coming in contact with the remnants of seventy-five year-old garbage.
-Nash Metropolitans. A half dozen of the Mr. Magoo cars barely took up three feet of street space. They look like little bumper cars that escaped from their rink. Fun Fact: They double as an alternative fuel source for Hummers.
-Mustang Alley - A line of sought-after Stangs that would arouse Carol Shelby: 302 Boss, GT 500’s, ’66 GT350 convertible, 2007 Saleen/Parnelli Jones Edition, early 90’s Vanilla Ice 5.0’s, 1979 Mustang pace car for the 63rd annual Indy 500, etc.
-Weiner dog with hind legs in a sad little cart.
There was no time to feel pity. The 4:00pm closing time for the show was fast approaching and the echoes of thunderous vintage V-8’s was beginning to reverberate up and down the avenue as the more antsy owners pulled their classics from the stalls.
The scene was classic, as old the cars themselves. Older gentlemen lit cigarettes in the drivers’ seats of their show cars, waiting for the engines to warm enough to calm the cam-lopes and for the crowd to thin out. The tension was rising.
I started pacing south, hoping to catch the best of it and walked directly into the electric-car block of the show.
Every owner there had a sales-pitch. Some of it sounded alright. Others stood in front of a battery-powered Geo Metro limousine with a gull-wing door lofted ajar in the far rear to showcase something I didn’t take the time to look at. It was probably a battery. Other cars at this section included:
-Mid ‘70’s Datsun station wagon converted to electric
A ponderous thought occurred: If electric cars now make up an entire section of the Greenwood show, would their little block slowly expand outwards like a softly humming cancer, marking the inevitable demise of gas-powered automobiles?
The faint roar of petroleum engines was rising. Time was of the essence. I kept walking south-bound, scribbling observations on a pad of paper:
TV MUSCLE CARS
A General Lee Dodge Charger – One of the original cars used in the making of The Dukes of Hazard. It had a confederate flag draped over the bumper and was equipped with a roll cage and ramming bar. The driver’s seat had the faint aura of faded Levi’s jeans in the imprint of Luke Duke’s buttocks.
1975 Gran Torino – Used in the filming of Starsky and Hutch. There was probably a pulp fiction ass-print in this car as well but vehicles up and down the strip were beginning to pour out into a ridiculously eclectic exit parade.
A line of four Shelby Cobras, originals and replicas grumbled past, the tops of their doors well below my waist line.
Most of the lil darlin’s had side-exhausts that funneled the headers straight from the engine. One of the testier drivers introduced me to a Cobra honk: Revving the engine to startle pedestrians out of the way.
A sharp flick of his foot released a calf-level exhaust explosion that threatened to singe the hair from my leg.
Directly after the Cobras, a progression of three Mini Coopers puttered silently into the exit line of traffic like diligent little butlers working dutifully unnoticed.
I continued walking against the flow and began to notice that the randomly timed exits were mixing dangerously eclectic portions of the show.
A dream car of mine appeared: 1964 Lincoln Continental. Only it was lowered, rollin’ on gigantic rims and low-profile tires.
For lack of a better term, I had fumbled into the “Urban” portion of the strip. Both tastefully and gaudily blinged-out classics sauntered into the street. Hydraulics and bass music were predominate.
Elderly female pedestrians covered their ears with their hands and complained to their husbands, whom without a ceiling or broom to jab at it with could do nothing to help.
A group of Latino dudes in a lowered 1964 Impala convertible rolled into the procession blasting Latin music, followed cautiously by three elderly gentlemen in a 1925 Packard riding in white-knuckled silence. Suddenly, a gear-head in a lowered 1949 Mercury hot-rod convertible pulled in tight behind the Packard and began to blast AC-DC, creating a terrible sandwich of incompatible genres.
The Packard exploded.
Back at my trusty 1998 Subaru Legacy station wagon, it occurred to me that even if I didn’t have a car blog and couldn’t so much as tell the difference between a Geo Metro and a Chevrolet Suburban, I would still be entertained and warmly included at the Greenwood Car Show.
Such a happily random mix of automotive love could trick even the muddiest philistine into appreciating art and history; there’s just something about cars everyone can appreciate.
Maybe next year we’ll hear a few Tin Pan Alley favorites blowing proudly out of a Packard. That would really add to the scene.
PART 1: http://tinyurl.com/6bqznc9