In order to celebrate my Lincoln Mark VIII LSC being born in 1997, I thought I would enter it in a car show and hopefully win a trophy. So, the previous day was spent cleaning, waxing, and polishing – and that was just the wife. Badda bing! It’s the kind of joke Rodney Dangerfield would have said in one of his routines. The clouds wanted to break open while I was busy tending to the car. Years ago, I found out there was such a thing as chrome polish. I would like to know how it is different from other types of products.
And do I want to take a small brush or Q-Tip and clean the lip around the rim before show time? I think not.
After laboring for a few hours, including touch-up paint here and there, I was somewhat satisfied with the results. We are never fully happy with how our car looks, are we? As I was admiring my handy work, the clouds burst open and soaked everything around for miles. At least the rain drops beaded on the fresh coat of wax and slid off the car.
Despite a less than stellar spring and beginning of summer, organizers and participants alike were hoping for clement weather. Over 300 cars were on display at last year’s event in Lachute, Quebec and organizers were expecting a repeat performance and record attendance. Lachute is a charming town and gateway to the Laurentians; cottage country and year-round fun. The car show takes place on main street. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Mother Nature had other plans. The wife was smart and stayed home.
No matter, a few of us hardcore enthusiasts showed up despite the pouring rain. I was given a ballot to vote for a favorite car and a signup sheet to display on my dash. I should have brought a black felt pen instead of an ultra fine blue ball point. You could hardly read the info about my car through the windshield with the rain and all. It was wet and it got wetter, coming down so hard rain was falling from inside my umbrella.
One guy walked around my car looking at it from all angles, his neck stretched. He even took notes. I went over to him offering to answer any questions. He said he didn’t know Lincoln made two-door cars. He probably thought my car was recent. That’s how good it looks. “Well,” I said, stretching the well. “Lincoln used to make them. The last year was 1998.” Cadillac kept manufacturing them. The ETC, Eldorado Touring Coupe, for example, and now you can purchase a 2017 ATS Coupe off the dealer floor. But Lincoln has moved away from Coupes. Regardless, I’m still hoping they will come out with a Mark IX. One can dream, right?
A lone family showed up. The kids were eating ice cream, which was getting diluted by the minute. The boy leaned over trying to see inside the car. My mind says “don’t put your strawberry-flavored sticky fingers on my car.” Instead, I turn to the mother and congratulate her on her great kids. I had to keep in mind they were car fans and the rain would wash off the paw prints. It’s all part of the fun and besides, my hours of polishing were all in the past.
In my estimation, there were fewer visitors than show participants. Final tally was about 20 cars and trucks, but I was eager and happy to talk about my car and inquire about other rides. I walked around and talked to the other guys who were mostly mechanics by profession. Few can afford to pay someone to maintain their cars. A few couples were in attendance. Parked behind me was a mint 1980 Ford F100. In front of me, the elderly gentleman brought his Cadillac Seville with plush velour seats. Even with the air ride lifting it at maximum height, the tail drooped according to the design.
Since it had front-wheel drive, my thoughts drifted to the 1972 Olds Toronado I used to own. In the mid-sixties, the Buick Riviera was the first big GM car to offer front-wheel drive. Those three models were ahead of the curve in many ways.
In front of the Seville was a 1964 Pontiac Tempest convertible. The man had driven 6 hours to attend the show. Earlier in the year, he had driven it to West Palm Beach and spent a couple of days at the Barrett-Jackson shindig. He had attended the Thursday auction where a Duster sold for quite a few coins. He told me he attends about a dozen car shows a year and puts quite a bit of mileage on his Tempest.
And on I went to look at all the cars. There were a few surprises. Ford Racing showed up with a superb white and blue Mustang. Before I reached the car to ask questions, the guys who trailered it to the site had sought shelter from the rain and were nowhere to be found. The last two participants to arrive were a father and son team. The father drove a bright orange 1972 Road Runner and the son brought a 1964 Chevrolet Bel-Air, I think. I was too soaked to go look at the badge.
The hoods on every car were closed. Good thing because I hadn’t had time to clean my own engine compartment.
The Man With The Kaiser
Because of the poor attendance, organizers decided to cut the event short. No one complained. It was time for the trophies and prizes. The mayor was in attendance. His Honor’s pick was a Polaris. Was it a car? Was it a motorcycle? No, it was a Slingshot, and highly modified, it seemed. It looked like a Transformer. A trophy was given to the car voted favorite by the participants. That trophy went to the owner of a 1947 Kaiser. I actually voted for that car.
Funny enough, I told the guy I would vote for him. I asked him to fill out my ballot since I was out in the rain and he was sitting nice and dry in his Kaiser.
Back in the heyday of automobile manufacturing, the Big Three had some competition. One such manufacturer was Kaiser-Fraser, a team effort by Henry Kaiser and Joseph Fraser. They produced both Kaiser and Fraser automobiles which were available to the public right after World War II. They also made Allstate cars for Sears Roebuck & Company, sold through Sears Auto Centers. In the late 1940s through the first part of the 1950s, they joined with car designer Howard Darrin. In 1954, they offered a sports car with a fiberglass body and a six-cylinder engine. And I believe it was featured in the Sears “Wish Book.” Mr. Fraser was bought out, and eventually, Kaiser purchased Willys-Overland, famed maker of Jeeps. However, in the long run, they could not compete with the Big Three. Despite tentative agreements in place with GM to supply parts like transmissions and detuned Rocket 88 engines from Oldsmobile, it didn’t work out and Kaiser had to close shop.
Prizes & Polish
The organizers ended up giving trophies to everyone since there were more trophies than participants. So, I received one just for showing up. After the trophies were awarded, it was time for gifts from local merchants to be handed out. I ended up winning two gift certificates and a shoulder bag containing a hat, a thermos, and a deck of playing cards with old photos of the town on them. There was a 50/50 draw, which I didn’t win, but half the proceeds went to a charitable cause.
Despite the miserable weather, a good time was had by all. It may not appear to be so, but a lot of work and time goes into organizing a car show, the next one being in Hawkesbury, Ontario, Canada over Labor Day weekend. That’s not too far from the New York State border and a stone’s throw from the province of Quebec. Participants and visitors come from all over; last year, they had upwards of 500 cars and trucks register for the event. Fingers crossed for Mother Nature to be kind.
There are thousands of such events taking place all across this great continent of ours, much to the delight of car and truck aficionados. If you own a car that is show worthy, polish that baby and enter it. If you are a car enthusiast, make sure to attend at least one event. It will be well worth your time, plus the guys and gals who spend countless hours on their vehicles will be grateful you visited them.
Michael Bellamy is the author of our Memory Lane series, a collection of work that examines the unique relationships we have with automobiles. Bellamy has held a number of interesting jobs over the years, including a helicopter pilot and chauffeur to high-ranking politicians. He enjoys driving his 1997 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC and 2003 Dodge Dakota.