Friday, February 10, 2012

2012 Kansas City World of Wheels caters to all automotive tastes

If you've been wondering when I was going to get around to covering a new Kansas City car show, your wait is over. Finally, after all these weeks and months of winter, the 52nd-Annual World of Wheels car show is in Kansas City, so we've got a little local action to check out.

I really do look forward to this show every year. Sure, part of it is that I want to get out of the house, but it actually is one of the bigger events in the area. I wouldn't say this year's offering was the best ever, but I certainly wouldn't have wanted to miss it.

As you may have noticed, I really like a lot of different kinds of cars. But I don't like all of them. For example, even though I can appreciate the work that goes into low riders, high-riders, Donks and the like, they just don't trip my trigger. I'm also not really into motorcycles, tuners, or shiny, lifted trucks. Probably half the show floor is occupied by vehicles that fit one of those descriptions, so it cuts the time it takes to get through the show significantly. If you like all of that stuff, and all of the stuff I like, you might spend another two hours perusing Bartle Hall.

In this crowd, most of my personal favorites are the period-correct customs. There's usually a pretty nice selection of chopped Mercs, glitzy shop trucks, and other Starbird or Barris-inspired creations. A few of them were actually built decades ago.  That purple truck in the picture, for example, was built in the early '60s.  It has all kinds of bits and pieces from other cars.  Look at all those '57 Chevy hood ornaments in that grill.

There were also a couple of pretty cool bubble top cars. These things were all the rage back in the '60s, and I think they're making a comeback. One of them was the famous Manta Ray, which was built by legendary car builder Dean Jeffries in 1963. This car is pretty famous, having appeared in magazines and even movies back in the day. And honestly, it's a pretty amazing piece of work, with a custom made tube chassis and hand-formed aluminum body panels.

The other bubble top car is the Ed Roth-inspired Roswell Rod. You would swear that you saw it in an issue of Rod & Custom in 1964, but it was actually completed just a few years ago. It sits on part of a 1970 Buick Skylark chassis. This baby is pure show car, because for all the fun it is to look at, I suspect that it would fry a person like a bug under a magnifying glass if they tried to drive it on a sunny day.

I went to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas a couple of months ago, and I was surprised how many cars I recognized from there. A very detailed '32 Ford High Boy with a Lincoln Zephyr theme was one of the big stars at SEMA. GM Performance Parts brought the '70 Chevelle that was supposedly designed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. There was also a big, black Mack fire truck hot rod with a Viper V10 that was pretty hard to forget.

The traditional hot rod/rat rod guys take up a pretty large part of the show. A lot of these are cars that we saw that the Greaserama last year. These are usually a mixed bag of really excellent and the exact opposite of really excellent. But either way, this is unlike any other part of the show. Most of these cars aren't behind ropes. You can go right up to these cars. The guys that own them are usually hanging around with their friends. They seem like they're having more fun than most.

Strangely enough, my two favorites were two Buick Sedanettes. The black '50 is one that we've seen at car shows around town before, but it is a real standout. That body style is great anyway, and with its original straight-eight and genuine wire wheels, this car really cuts through the clutter.

The other one was a wild, pearl lime green '47 Buick custom. Normally, these tubs don't make very good customs, but this was the exception. A lot of it had to do with the excellent top chop, which had window frames reminiscent of the iconic Hirohota Mercury. It also had lots of neat custom parts from other cars, like the DeSoto grill teeth, Cadillac Dagmars, '53 Buick headlights, '57 Oldsmobile rear bumper, and so on. It was fun to try and figure out where all the trim pieces came from, and somehow still come together to form such a coherent final product.

This is the first outing with my new Canon S100 digital camera. I wanted something that I could carry in my pocket, but I was also tired of apologizing for the quality of my pictures. I got the first part down, because it does, indeed, fit in my pocket. The second part is a little iffy, because I obviously have a lot to learn to get better quality pictures. These aren't terrible, I suppose, but hopefully I'll really have the hang of it by the end of the summer. Anyway, there are 428 photos from the 2012 World of Wheels in the slideshow below.


  1. I thought the photos were very good - an indoor show is a difficult environment for photography.
    Looks like there were several really great cars and trucks - and some really poor english ... Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for all the photos and taking the time to post them.
    Love the Henry J.....

  3. Your pix are fab! Thanks, I wanted to go but couldn't make it. This is the next best thing.

  4. Craig:
    Excellent slideshow (as usual) some beautiful rolling works of art there.
    Feels like I was really there.

    Nice job.

    Happy Motoring.

    Roll safe out there.