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Friends or Fords

Friends or Fords



Attending car shows has been a favorite activity since my childhood. Tacoma’s Toppers Car Club frequently received my $2 admission when I attended their shows at the Tacoma Armory in the ‘60’s. Longtime Northwest car show promoter Clark Marshall filled the Seattle Center Coliseum in the ‘60’s & 70’s with attendees admiring a variety of cars, motorcycles and boats. The car show scene slowed down a bit in the ‘80’s but there were still occasional shows where you could stroll between the outrageous custom and classic cars. Current Seattle area shows often have hundreds of cars on display and at least two annual shows feature up to 2000 cars. Some events are very elaborate gatherings that take a lot of planning and money to produce while others are very casual and just provide a place to park your car for the day. Every weekend from May through October old car hobbyists have two to ten shows to select from. By my calculations (warning: I was provided the opportunity to repeat my high school algebra class) I’ve attended over a thousand car shows since the late ‘50’s. What is it that makes a person keep going to shows that often have many of the same cars that were featured at last week’s car show?
     Perhaps it’s the love and appreciation of car design and construction? Or is it the excitement at an indoor show that includes beautiful reflecting colors, the smell of leather interiors and the familiar sound of traditional rock & roll? Outdoor shows often provide a landscape of multicolored shapes and forms that remind us of long ago good times, or the anticipation of future four wheeled adventures. Most shows also provide attendees with the opportunity to enjoy food that is, perhaps, not very healthy, but is very comforting. Yes, these attributes all combine to make a car show a fantastic place to spend a day. There is one other major ingredient that will make the recipe complete; being with other members of the car community. This important ingredient always satisfies the autophile’s appetite.

  The friendliest and most welcoming people I’ve ever encountered are the participants in the car hobby. Attending a car show is like attending a reunion of all of your old best friends. It makes no difference in this crowd if you are rich or poor, young or old, Republican or Democrat, religious or atheist, green or blue, drive a worn out four door sedan or a totally restored convertible; you are part of the family. The most often heard noise at a car show is not the rumble of duel exhaust pipes, but laughter. The people laughing are often the same people that you were laughing with last weekend and will be laughing with again next weekend.

  There is always excitement when someone arrives with a recently purchased beater that they have big plans to restore, or a show car that has just been completed. The driver is the center of attention as he or she climbs out of the newest addition to the car community and begins to answer dozens of questions. “Where did you find it? What are you going to do to it? How long did it take to build it? Is this the first time it has been displayed?” These and other questions accomplish two things; inform the fellow attendees about the car and open the door for additional communication between new and old car friends.

   A few weeks ago I was sitting with a group of friends at a car show when we noticed a woman get out of a very nice 1932 Ford. None of us knew her and she didn’t seem to know anyone at the show. We got her attention as she walked by and began asking her about the car. At first she was a bit awkward but soon she was telling us all about her new toy. What she didn’t know was that we were all familiar with the car because the previous owner had been bringing it to car shows for several years. The reason for our questions was not to learn about the car, it was to make her feel welcome.

  The love and appreciation of old cars is the glue that holds this hobby together. Car people are passionate about these vintage vehicles and fawn over them whether they are alone or with friends, but it is better when friends are included. The most frequent problem that some car show attendees encounter is not taking enough time to look at the cars. “I have all day to look around but for now I think that I’ll sit with Bill & Diane and chat for awhile.” A half an hour later they decide to start looking at the cars but walk about 20 feet when a friend calls out “Hey, grab a chair so we can get caught up.” The next thing they know the cars are leaving and they observe several cars that had not been noticed earlier in the day. This is an easy problem to solve; attend a car show the next weekend and take a closer look at the cars. Just be sure to leave enough time to have some laughs with a few old friends.