Saturday, October 6, 2018

Vettes, Hot Rods, and Families brings 'em back to the Corvette Assembly Plant

Corvettes. You know I love ‘em. So when I heard that there was a car show at the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, the birthplace of every Corvette since 1981, you know I had to check it out. I even entered my own ’93 Corvette in the show, even though there was no chance that I was going to win one of those awesome trophies. It was just cool to be in the shadow of a place that produced so many cool cars. The Vettes, Hot Rods, and Families Car Show had a pretty decent turnout, and the entry fees went to the American Cancer Society. It was a good way to spend a Saturday.

My favorite car without a doubt was this Roman Red ’61. Chevrolet charged an extra $16.15 to paint the coves Ermine White on this when it was new. They also charged $150.65 to top the engine with a pair of four-barrel carburetors. It was also equipped with a Powerglide automatic transmission ($199.10 when new), which is a relatively unusual option to see on one of these today. Having some familiarity with ’61 Corvettes in particular, I can tell you that it was restored to a better-than-new condition. In a sea of late-model plastic, this one really stood out to me.

This ’58 was no slouch either. It won its class, so the judges thought it was nice too. You can’t go wrong with this color combination of Tuxedo Black with Inca Silver coves and a Signet Red interior. I don’t know what engine option it had because the lid was closed, but it sounded like it had an especially lopey cam as it drove by. It had chrome Cragar wheels, which aren’t really 1958-vintage accessories, but they did become popular sometime between then and now, so they certainly appeal to a lot of people. The ’61 and this ’58 represent the entire first-generation class at this show, and there was not a Midyear in sight. If you like old Corvettes, these were the ones for you.

I have always been a Corvette enthusiast, so I keep up with all the different models and styles. I know that a 2019 ZR1 is higher on the food chain than a 1997 coupe. I would love to have any of them. But when you get a whole bunch of late-model Corvettes together, they all sort of look pretty similar. The biggest differences tend to be how many accessories are added from the Mid-America catalog, or how clean their owners can make them. So I tend to gravitate toward things that stand out. These 2017 Grand Sport Z25 models are a good example of that. The Watkins Grey Metallic paint isn’t too crazy on its own, but when they paired it with bright Tension Blue accents on the interior, these cars really pop.

Speaking of cleanliness and accessories, here you go. We watched the owners of this 2019 Z06 clean, primp, and detail on this car for literally hours. They were probably cleaning dirt that wasn’t even there. I’ve sold some of '19s at the auction in this Sebring Orange Tintcoat color, and I was a big fan of it then. It’s an even better color when someone polishes it out like this. We were parked right by these folks, so we had first-row seating to the cleaning. The owners of this baby (or really, most of the people at the show for that matter) didn’t seem to be too interested in my lowly ol’ C4, but we were most definitely aware of their existence.

The only vehicle built at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant other than the Corvette was the 2004-2009 Cadillac XLR, and there were more of them than I have ever seen at one time parked together at this show. The XLR-V like the one pictured was the alpha-dog of the model line. They had a 443-hp, supercharged Northstar V8, as well as some performance bits cribbed from the Corvette. These were well over $100,000 ten years ago, so you were definitely making a statement when you showed up in an XLR-V. It was cool that these XLR owners were able to have a reunion at the plant, and it seemed like they were having a great time.

There were some non-Corvettes at this show as well. Here’s everyone’s favorite “piss yellow” hot rod, straight from the movie American Graffiti. John Milner’s Deuce Coupe is one of those iconic cars that almost everyone has seen. This version had most of the look of the movie car down, although I’ll bet it’s nicer than the one we saw on screen. It still looked like it could take down Bob Falfa on Paradise Road. To many people, this car is as recognizable as the Batmobile or the General Lee. I didn’t even grow up in the ‘60s but American Graffiti somehow makes me miss the childhood I never had. The car even has George Lucas’ THX 138 license plate. Where were you in ’62?

Here’s a pretty nice little ’63 Corvair convertible. It’s your basic Ermine White on the outside and Tuxedo Black on the inside, but what really sets it off are the correct factory wire wheels. I think Corvairs really lend themselves to the wire wheel look. This car looked pretty original overall, and it seems like it would be a blast to drive with that little four-speed shifter sticking out of the floor. Corvairs always had sort of a cult following, but they seem to be getting more and more popular with mainstream car enthusiasts all the time.

If you want to see pictures, I’ve got your pictures. There are 295 shots from the Vettes, Hot Rods, and Families Car Show, and you can look at all of them by clicking this link.

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