Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012 Old Marais River Run. 1,200 photos. Yeah, it was that big.

Generally, you can expect the Goodguys show at Kansas Speedway to be the biggest car show of the year in the Kansas City area.  But I think we might have a new champion for 2012—the Old Marais River Run in nearby Ottawa, Kan.  Nearly 1,700 pre-1972 cars and trucks packed into picturesque Forrest Park for a beautiful weekend of spit-shining and cruising.

This is a dynamic show, with cars driving around the access road all day, people riding the shuttle through the show, and numerous organized cruises and activities throughout the weekend.  This is the 26th year of this event, and the Over the Road Gang has obviously learned a thing or two about putting on a good show in all that time.

Any custom car aficionado worth their salt has heard of the Hirohata Merc.  This 1951 Mercury was customized by George and Sam Barris in 1952, and it really is the gold standard of all chopped and modified Mercurys to follow.  The sleek, amazing flow of that top is an engineering and artistic marvel.  And all of those little details are just amazing.  This was one hell of a car.  Jack Walker from Belton brought out his incredible clone of this historic ride, and from one end to the other, it is nearly as perfect as the original.  Even this recreation is a nationally recognized and respected custom, and when you get a chance to study it in person, you can see why.

I was really drawn to this red-on-red ’62 Corvette.  It wasn’t perfectly restored, which makes it better in my opinion.  You see, the owner assured us that it still wore its original paint, and you could see the slight scars of 50 years everywhere on this car.  The second owners bought this Vette in 1963, and have owned it ever since.  The car had fuel injection emblems, but wore a single four-barrel atop its intake manifold.  This wasn’t an uncommon switch, though, because those early mechanical fuel injection systems were a little hard to deal with sometimes.  After all this time, the car was offered for sale at this show, and if someone is able to come up with a “high ‘40s” figure, they’ll take home a neat time capsule.

If there was one model of car that seemed to dominate the field, it had to be the Chevelle.  Dad and I got there pretty early and watched the cars drive in, and we couldn’t believe how many Malibus and El Caminos passed by.  The Mid-America Chevelle Club was in full-force this weekend, and I guess they were having a dry run before they set up their big annual show at the Great Mall next Saturday.

If you want to see one of the best looking cars ever made, look no further than the ’61 Pontiac Ventura two-door hardtop.  It has that “bubble top” that everyone goes gaga for on a Chevy, but it sits on a much nicer car.  Everything from the three-tone leather interior to those beautiful eight-lug Pontiac aluminum wheels just exudes quality, and this particular example, owned by Gene Beach of Mission, Kan., is as nice as it gets.

’32 Ford roadsters can be considered “belly button” cars.  Sure, they’re iconic, but there are so many of them that it takes a really special one to cut through the clutter.  This black highboy is that special and then some.  This car made the trek down from Michigan to attend Old Marais, and judging by the crowd around it all day, everyone was glad he did.  Much of this car is brand new, including the chassis and all-steel body, but the way it was put together, combined with that Flathead power hiding behind the hood louvers, and you could easily picture this car in a 1952 copy of Hot Rod Magazine.

Here’s something you won’t see every day.  It’s a ’59 Studebaker Lark four-door sedan.  And the thing that makes it so unusual is the condition.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s the nicest one I’ve ever seen in my life.  With that calamine lotion paint job and those little hubcaps, it looks like something a librarian or accountant would have driven.  But it did have the factory V8 under the hood, and that hang-on air conditioning would help make the cabin comfy while owner George Loughin sits on those perfect, speckled cloth seats.

How big was this show?  Well, I took more pictures than I ever have in the history of this blog—1,224 to be exact.  I also learned something new about my Picasa photo hosting account.  In addition to taking forever to load pictures, and its tendency to jack up slideshows and turn the pictures sideways, it also won’t let you put this many pictures in one album.  So I had to split this photo album in two, which you can see in the two-part slideshow below. 

Or, for better versions of these photo albums, check out these links:
Part 1

2012 Old Marais River Run Album Part 1:

2012 Old Marais River Run Album Part 2