It’s evident that Americans love their automobiles. First, we keep buying them in spite of ever-growing “sticker shock.” Despite an initial cost, operating expense and depreciation that few consumer goods rival, the love affair (maybe love/hate at times) continues.
The ubiquitous array of clubs, collector auctions and vintage car shows all over the United States, including shows nearly every summer weekend in the inland northwest, suggest that the love affair is alive and well. The “My Favorite Car” feature in this newspaper alone reveals an abundance of car “nuts” living right here.
It seems that just about everyone is at least “going steady” with a four-wheeled conveyance, if not “in love.” Even those not totally afflicted by the automotive appeal tend to be addicted to the convenience of on-demand personal transportation. Stepping out of your home, turning a key (or pushing a button), stepping on a pedal and steering wherever one wishes to go is pretty alluring.
But those who are in love beyond the transportation feature of motor vehicles are plentiful. The annual Goodguys car show here displays over 1500 cars owned by such enthusiasts. That event happens in cities all over the country year after year, featuring many cars with values of $100 to $200 thousand! Many of those owners have also invested over 1000 hours of labor in their love.
Hobbyists even pay $25 to $50 to display their pride and joys on the lawn at these events. Mostly, the prizes are minimal, so the draw is mainly the chance for proud owners to display the fruits of their time and effort to others. Typically, eager entrants are “camped” behind their cars in lawn chairs ready to engage in discussions and Q & A regarding their prized rides.
For example, the local Hassie Club recently held a show at Mirabeau Meadows. Over 150 cars entered the event, under the requirements of being at least thirty years old, and original survivor or restored-to-original examples. Everything imaginable is represented, and condition ranges from worn-but-complete to museum-quality perfection.
That latter category is represented by a “Best of Show” award presented to the auto deemed nearest to perfect by a group of expert judges. This year, my friend T.T. won the coveted award with his flat-out gorgeous 1949 Oldsmobile convertible. There is also a “Best Survivor” award (for an unrestored car) that went to a 1957 Chevrolet station wagon “barn find.” The third “big award” is the “People’s Choice,” voted by attendees of the show, which went home with the owner of a 1959 Oldsmobile convertible. First and second place trophies were also awarded to cars representing each decade appearing there.
The love affair has gone global as well. A 1974 Ford Elite I sold on eBay last year ended up in Gluckstadt, Germany. Both the winning and second place bidders were in Europe. Evidently, the demand has outplaced the supply of American cars there, so many of them now here will soon be headed there. This particular buyer owns two vintage American cars now, and regularly attends European events similar to the Hassie Club show described above.
I knew there were Route 66 celebrations here, but only recently learned that they are held in Germany and Sweden! Images of the events show that American car lore, complete with vehicles from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, along with rat-rods, pin-up contests and Route 66 gift shops is addictive overseas too!
Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org