Wednesday, October 9, 2013

41st-Annual AACA Car Show is rich with history

One of my favorite car shows happens each year about this time in Lawrence, Kan.  Yes, I like hot rods, customs, muscle cars, Corvettes, and so on.  But the Lawrence Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) is something different.  This is where you find older, mostly original cars.  You aren’t going to see people doing burnouts when they leave the parking lot of this one.  And with this crowd, no one has to remind them not to.  This caters to a more mature clientele.  These are the guys that have been in the old car hobby longer than the rest of us, and know how to take care of an old car better than most of us.

Take this ’36 Ford convertible as an example.  You see ’36 Fords all the time made up as hot rods.  Some are better than others.  But you don’t have to worry about questionable modifications here.  This is just the way Henry Ford intended it.  To the gray paint to the wood finish on the dashboard, this is exactly like what you would have seen in a dealership 77 years ago.  From its immaculate Flathead V8 to the dazzling wheel embellishments, there was little to fault on this sharp old car.

Buick and Cadillac were the featured brands at this year’s show, and this ’41 Buick Super 50 convertible was a real standout.  That buttery soft green leather looked as rich as cheesecake, and the whole car just had a stately yet sporty presence.  It had spotlights, fog lights, and even a clock in the glove box door.  They used to call Buicks “doctor’s cars,” because they were nicer than a Chevy but not as pretentious as a Cadillac.  If a doctor showed up to my house in this car, I’d be confident he knew what he was doing.

Another snazzy Buick ragtop was this 1960 LeSabre.  With their sweeping lines and simple trim, ’60 Buicks were some of the best looking cars of their time.  And they have one of the most handsome convertible top profiles in history.  The production LeSabre debuted in 1959, and was named after Harley Earl’s famous 1951 dream car.  They came with a 250-hp, 364-c.i. V8, which was the standard engine in their day.  This one claimed to be an unrestored original, and I would pretty much agree with that assessment.  I don’t remember having seen it before, but I’m sure glad I got to see it at this event.

There were several very worthy Cadillacs on the grounds, including this black ’57 Eldorado.  This example was a two door hardtop, which made it an Eldorado Seville.  This was the second year for the fixed-roof Eldo, and they were opulent.  With acres of black and white leather, power everything, and chrome that can be measured by the ton, the only thing one could flaunt their social status with more in 1957 would be the otherworldly Eldorado Brougham.  Cadillac makes some pretty nice cars today, but they sure don’t make anything as impressive as this anymore.

This Cameo White ’71 Grand Prix was a pretty special car in its day as well.  This is a factory-built Hurst SSJ special edition.  They only made 157 of them, so you certainly aren’t going to see many on your daily commute.  This was obviously the fanciest Grand Prix you could get back then.  After they left the GM factory, they were sent to Hurst Performance Research in Southfield, Mich., for paint, wheels, half vinyl tops, and performance upgrades.  This particular car was perfect as far as I could tell.  I don’t know how much something like this is worth, but in my mind, it should be an awful lot.

Finally, here’s one I had to look up.  It is a 1956 LaDawri convertible.  What’s that, you ask?  Well, it was a Canadian kit car that was conceived by golf cart maker Les Dawes.  The chassis could be anything from a Ford, Chevy, or homebuilt concoction, and power usually came from a Ford or Chevy V8.  The dashboard reminded me of a simplified ’59 Chevy; or maybe an old boat.  The look of the windshield frame leaves something to be desired, but the rest of it is pretty sleek and well-proportioned.  I’ll guarantee one thing—if that had been a ’59 Corvette sitting there, it wouldn’t have drawn near as much attention.

There are probably five-or-ten more cars that I think would be worth writing something about, but I suppose I’ll stop here and launch into the photos.  I really do recommend that you take a look at this one--there is some great stuff in there.  Check out all 328 pictures in the slideshow below, or click on this link for a nicer version.

1 comment:

  1. First saw the "Rainman" convertible 25 yrs. ago and it still looks beautiful. Rod if you still own it Bob from Basehor says Hi! Still have my 340 duster too.