with Steve McCarthy
Car Shows. Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? If you’re a Car Guy, ya can’t ignore ‘em. Their ubiquity is distinctly American. Sure, Concours d’Elegance sounds so TERRIBLY Continental and, well, Elegant, but it’s STILL a Car Show. And yeah, they have ‘em all over the world, but here in the USA, especially in SoCal, You can hit a car show every weekend, often two.
Every thing from the more recent fad of “Cars And Coffee” at a local place with a big parking lot. to well planned events with trophies, raffles, vendors and blocked off streets. Some attract hundreds of cars whose owners have gotten up at O’Dark-Thirty to head for some city’s Old Town (these have been top venues for as long as there have been Old Towns), wait in the pre-dawn darkness, pay $40, park on the street, find breakfast at a local place smart enough to open up, then wander about looking at rows of Plastic-Deuce-Roadsters-With-Small-Blocks, then sit and wait for the awards to be given, hoping against hope that they will bring home a piece of coveted tin (well, mostly plastic and genuine ersatz faux marble) to bring home and gather dust on a shelf. When something weird, like the Blue Meanie or Yellow Submarine shows up, the Hot Rodders get a bit edgy.
OK, I’m descending into snarkiness (and perhaps some sour grapes--I’ve long given up thinking my cars will win awards, unless there’s a trophy for “Weirdest”) and I shouldn’t. Most shows have a $40 buck buy in not only to cover costs, but they DO write pretty big checks to charities. That’s a Good Thing. They are also a time to meet old acquaintances and make new ones. Heck, even WIVES get involved. GASP!.
For whatever reason, this past month seems to have been Car Show Month for us. Yep, we hit one every weekend in September! So, here’s a run down. And yes, we had fun, showing off the Yellow Submarine and giving the oft repeated lesson on how the suspension works.
First up was the most local, our own hometown of Monrovia. This is one of the longest running shows (almost 30 years) and dates from when Monrovia decided that the moldering center of town should be remade. This show and the Friday Night Street Fair went a long way to bringing locals back to the center of town, a place where going there after dark was not a good idea, unless you wanted to score. This year, there were some 300 cars AND a Soap Box Derby. Huge crowds of families wandered around all day, pushing strollers and being tugged by dogs on leashes.
The Yellow Submarine drew hoards, and was possibly the most photographed car, and being our usual affable selves, we probably fielded more questions and had more discussions than most. I mean, what’s to say about a black ’32 Ford with a small block? (oops there I go again...) Five or six people commented on the fact that someone in their past (often a weird uncle or crazy friend) had one, and how they remember how comfortable it was. Lots of “ManSplainin’” as well, as guys would make motions to their ladies, making up and down gestures with their hands. “This has that air suspension, doesn’t it?” Then the lecture on Citroen HydroPneumatics would ensue.
The next weekend was a show on Mission Street in South Pasadena. For this one, I scored big. Managed to talk the guys in charge of parking to let me park in front of our now Favorite Pub, Griffin’s of Kinsale. I’d be able to quaff a pint or three of Guinness. I (Marianne bowed out of this one) set up the car, it’s “accessories” and the table chairs and umbrella (all bright yellow, of course), set out the picnic ware, including a bottle of French (of course) wine, baguette, cheese, and pate. Hey, if your gonna show a Froggy Car at a Hot Rod Show, ya GOTTA rub their noses in it. Again, a nice collection of maybe 150 cars. What kinda pissed me off was the awards.
Unlike Monrovia, where the awards are blatantly boring (best Deuce, Best Tri Five, Best Muscle Car and, eventually, best “Foreign Car--often won by an Anglia that had been made into a dragster), this show had much different categories. Mayor’s Award, Most Likely To Get Pulled Over (given by the PD), Hottest Paint (you guessed it, the Fire Dept.), Best Pick Up Car (no, not truck, this was given by the local Rose Parade Float Princesses), and Most Unusual. Now, I’m thinkin’, “Hey, I might get something here!” And if not me, the all original, vinyl sided Pacer Station Wagon, of the Mini Cooper Pick Up, or the Morris Minor. but no, a 1948 Chevy Pick Up? REALLY? How the bloody hell is THAT unusual, in anyway, shape of form? Sheesh. sigh.
The next weekend was the Citroen Rendezvous in Cambria. This was a lot of fun. Fifty, count ‘em FIFTY RUNNING CITROENS all in one place at the same time! Over 100 people to celebrate the centenary of Citroen Cars. Some REAL gems showed up, all but a couple drove from both NoCal and SoCal, decent banquet food, hysterical entertainment, what can I say? A weekend of chatting about insanely odd Froggy Cars, getting technical help, buying odd nards and skizzies at the swap meet, and a comfy room to boot. Add in the usual beautiful drive up and down the coast and a few wineries? What’s not to love. The best part was the return of 1 Fine D. The DS Safari wagon that was the pride and joy of Wally Escherick. A very melancholy moment, but joyous in the knowledge that the car has gone to a good home.
This years Do was planned by the NoCal bunch, next year is our turn, and I have Plans.
The last show was this past Saturday, again nicely local, Duarte. For whatever reason, they hold a “Route 66 Festival,” complete with a Parade down Huntington Drive and a car show in a local park. Sadly, it threatened to rain, so the more prissy hot rodders, fearing their cars would melt stayed away. They’re as bad as the Ferrari and Lamborghini owners. Still, it was a lot of fun. People had all the usual questions which we happily answered. A club of Low Riders were FASCINATED. Took them through the whole thing. No, it can’t do a Tall Boy, but sure as hell rides better. One guy seemed serious about how he could adapt the Citroen system to his ’63 Chevy Wagon. Shame the late drizzle kept the crowds down, but hey, this IS SoCal, and we all fear that wet stuff from the skies.
Anyway, Car Shows can be a lot of fun, if you let them. You can kick back, relax, nibble on a picnic lunch or sample local fare, chat with people about your ride, meet new friends, and get frustrated if you don’t win “Most Unusual.”