In Search of the Perfect Ride …

In Search of the Perfect Ride …

Planning a milestone birthday for our eldest was actually easy; find car shows that bookend his actual birthdate and voila! – recipe for the perfect celebration! So it began, on September 27th, as we skedaddled to the annual highbrow Concours D’Élegance held at the Hyatt in Cambridge, MD ($40 per person admission fee gave access to putting green, a glam brochure and a lovely afternoon)

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We walked the “greens”, perused the “uber organized” horseshoe layout of assembled automobiles dating from as early as 1907, and meandered …

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I, for one, was gob smacked at the level of car detail and design that evolved from the latter part of 1927 onward. Earlier designs (1907) were based on taking a living room chair and mounting it onto a frame with wheels …

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… and along with fuel, lights, a horn (I wonder how long it took them to figure out they needed one) and stopping mechanisms the “mobile armchair” was born. But even here, the “chairs” were of stuffed leather, the brass was polished, and used decoratively as well as for functionality but the nascent industry was beginning to make manifest what the imagination was only beginning to explore: you could literally see the design wheels turning.

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Within a decade, luxury and status emerged as designs incorporated color and finer materials as the automobile bodies stretched and morphed into bold expressions of wealth, power and luxury.

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The 1930s ushered in a level of detail and decadence in certain brands that remain epically recognizable to this very day. The Packard Dietrich, Roadster

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and Darrin, the Stutz with the helmeted hood ornament, LeBaron Pierce Arrow, Isotta Fraschini Limousine, or the Bugati and the Bentley Mark VI were truly inspired “Stars” of their time and those who could afford it, were transported and seen in their very fine and expen$ive chariots

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Others grabbed their hats and scarves and tooled about in their two-seater MGs like this smart looking one …

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After WWII and into the 1950s something altogether unique happened as entire new trends took hold: a car in every driveway and the arrival of the space age.

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By the mid 1950s the US was in an age of expansion, economically, intellectually and globally. We were untouchable. We were the way of the future and we held sway over the world’s energy production. The net result was an explosion in the shear size of vehicles and the doo-dad bells and whistles were made of heavy chrome featuring a space age motif

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This trend continued through the decade before giving way to the 1960s hot rods and Muscle Cars and rumbling exhaust pipes that deafen the deaf.

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That, by the way, is where the second car show “Endless Summer Cruisin” comes in. Ocean City, MD plays annual host to a riot of an event. Spanning 4 days (October 8-11th), with three parades of cars at 8AM on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, that roll down the length of the  boardwalk …

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…. plus an admission fee of $35 gains you daily access to the Inlet Parking lot (as well as convention center for the ultra “special” cars) where over a thousand cars purr, rumble and roar …

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…. as all sorts of folks bury their heads under the hoods, polish the chrome and chat away with infectious enthusiasm. It’s the “every day Joe’s” best time ever: Thrashers Boardwalk fries in buckets, funnel cakes and Fisher’s popcorn all washed down with “soda” chilling in ubiquitous coolers while owners wile away the day chatting and kicking back in canvas chairs with random music blaring over the speakers … what’s not to love …

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To my astonishment, I discovered that my absolute favorite car was the turquoise and cream two-toned Belair from 1956 – okay minus the dice!

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Golly, look at their “set up” … parked in a drive in movie … the unit that attached to the window providing sound and heat! … a food tray perched on the window.

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The only thing missing were the kiddos in pajamas wrapped in blankets and snug with puppy and pillows in the ginormous back seat with mom and dad in the front seat, which conveniently (ahem) had a bench design. Seriously, how cool and comfy!

It helped that the weather was great which is typical for early fall in Maryland, and that both locations were picture perfect with the added bonus of being coastal: Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This skedaddle was gobs of fun and worth the miles on the odometer. There was something for everyone including this Edsel … thinking of dodo bird cars, we found a Pinto and, I kid you not, a Gremlin but not a Pacer … what were those designers on?

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… and I found my perfect ride: the Belair!

My husband’s favorite was this cobalt 1965 Cobra

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Our son’s favorite was the 1959 Mercedes Benz Ponton

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… Perhaps check them out next year! Happy Halloween everyone!

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Next Skedaddle → Stillwell_Paris_Sunset_Brdg1 ← Hint: À Bientôt

My website http://www.KateStillwellPhotography.com is now operating … there is definitely a learning curve so I hope you will be patient. Visit often and journey along with me as I populate “Travel” and continue to add to “Categories”!

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