I can distinctly recall the first time I really got sucked into attending a car show. It was 1999, just a hair before we witnessed how the Fast & Furious franchise could transform the tuner market into a cesspool of fake carbon components and knockoff exhaust systems, and the mini-truck craze was still in full swing. This was a far cry from attending Concours d’Elegance, but at the time it was one of the craziest things I had ever experienced.
As I walked through those massive double doors, and into the overly air-conditioned jaws of the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, my 16-year-old brain was completely rearranged by what I saw inside. Row upon row of candy-coated cars, classic muscle cars, and extreme off-road machines greeted me, and I haven’t looked back since.
Prior to that, my car show exposure had been limited to cruise-ins, parking lot meets, and hot rod charity drives, which after a while left me largely nonplussed with the whole notion of standing around listening to guys jaw on about the importance of his specific brand of synthetic oil. But this was a totally different bag altogether, and I was hooked straight from the start.
Twenty years later, my taste in shows has expanded and I’ve been able to move up in the automotive show world, allowing me to attend events, including the world-renowned Concours d’Elegance. Take Ault Park’s annual Concours d-Elegance for instance: Automotive journalists from the world over get the privilege of being able to get up close and personal with some of the rarest and most expensive cars ever made, and we went as far as doing a feature on the do’s and don’ts of attending a high-brow car show.
This year it was all about Ferrari, showcasing 100 years of BMW, the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1-2-3 Sweep of Le Mans with the mighty GT40, the All-American Workhorse — The Pickup Truck, and the cars of Donald Healey. While the showing was impressive as always, and the amount of material I covered in a day could fill the pages of a full-blown portfolio, I still had my favorites when it was all over. So break out your straw Stetson, grab an ice-cold Arnold Palmer, readjust your aviators, and let’s look at some fancy classic cars.