53rd-Annual World of Wheels brings life to the Kansas City car scene
Winter in Kansas City can be rough for car guys. Practically all the car races, car shows, cruises, and anything else we might be interested in just shrivel up and die. But every year, the first signs of life begin to bud when the World of Wheels hits Bartle Hall. The 53rd installment of this Kansas City tradition took place this weekend, and just like tulips sprouting in the garden, it gives you hope that we’ll have a good year.
One of the big feature displays at this event included three generations of the Batmobile. This is especially apropos right now, because George Barris, the King of the Kustomizers, recently sold the original Batmobile from the 1960s TV series for $4.2-million. Now the earliest example in Bartle Hall was a replica, but it pretty much gave you the same vibe. They also had the late-‘80s Michael Keaton version, and the current Batman Tumbler. They were fun to look at, and there always seemed to be a crowd around them taking pictures.
One of my favorites at this show was this ’49 Cadillac Sedanette. This was the second year for this style of Cadillac, which included Cadillac’s now-familiar tailfins. 1949 was the first year for the 331-c.i. overhead-valve V8 engine, which was a pretty big deal when it came out. This one looked particularly sophisticated in its black paint. It even had two small spotlights. I had never seen this car before, and it really stood out among the customs with which it was parked.
Here’s a completely different, but also very appealing way to treat a ’49 model General Motors Sedanette. This one is a Buick, and this Colorado beauty had some nice, period-correct lead sled-style touches. The ’55 Chevy headlights were especially distinctive, and the taillights were hooded to match. Various scoops, vents, and other subtle body modifications made this car look like something that would have been between the covers of Car Craft in 1958.
This ’57 Chevy looked really pretty under the florescent lights. I’m calling it out mainly because of the color, which was called Harbor Blue. We don’t see that hue very often, but whenever we do, my dad remembers the one he had in high school. Dad’s had a lighter Larkspur Blue roof and no continental kit, but otherwise it was apparently pretty similar. This car also looked like it had been lowered a little. This illustrates one of the major benefits of old cars—the positive memories they have the power to recall.
A big section of the floor was occupied by the “1961 Ol Skool Rodz” display. Many of these cars and trucks belonged to members of the Los Punk Rods car club, so you may recognize a few of them from the Greaserama car show that is held in the Kansas City-area in September. You’ll see things like rat rods, bobbers, and unrestored customs in this area. Among them was this 1959 Mercury Colony Park station wagon. These are hard-to-find, and definitely cool. Yes, it has the “wood” paneling. Yes, you would expect to see it on an old Yellowstone National Park postcard. But it is also a four-door hardtop wagon. And this one was draggin’ the pavement.
Near the Ol Skool Rodz display was a top-chopping demonstration that was being headed up by none other than the legendary hot-rodder Gene Winfield. The 86-year-old California customizer has worked on everything from movie cars to model kits. He is also a Bonneville land speed record alumni, and is known for his faded paint schemes. I was a little star-struck when I stopped to take this picture, but he went out of his way to walk over to me, shake my hand, and introduce himself. Definitely a cool dude, this Gene Winfield.
Everybody that’s anybody in the Kansas City old car world was at this show. Bob Bond, the artist who lettered the doors on my old truck, was participating in a charity pinstripers’ event. Blog advertiser Dale Wilch, the Man Cave Swap Meet guy, was there babysitting his van. And another advertiser, Tallant’s Auto Body had several of their own cars on display with some of their customer cars. This ’30 Model A Wagon belongs to Susan Tallant. It had a pretty cool Hawaiian surfing theme. The engine was an interesting choice. I believe it is an ‘80s-era General Motors four-cylinder, but it seemed to draw your attention more than your typical Chevy V8.