RAGTOP DAY
22nd Annual Gilmore Heritage Auto Show

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This 1961 Ford Radical Custom Thunderbird is owned by Nicolas Berger (Reed Berry)



Story and pictures by Reed “The Traffic Guy” Berry

“Ragtop Day” is not just the name of a popular Jimmy Buffett song, it also seems to appropriately describe the 22nd Annual Gilmore Heritage Auto Show in Los Angeles. Held the first Saturday in June each year, this year’s theme is “The Sky Is The Limit: A Tribute To American Convertibles.”

This is one of my favorite classic car shows each year for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that you have 100 vintage automobiles neatly arranged throughout one of L.A.’s most popular venues for Angelenos and tourists alike – the original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax.

There seems to be quite a turnout for today’s show. Well, actually, there are a lot of people arriving at Farmers Market saying: “Oh, there’s a car show here today?” So, while some people may have come with knowledge of this event, many more probably came to eat at Farmers Market or shop at The Grove next door and have been pleasantly surprised by this array of gorgeous automobiles.

The Petersen Museum brought out its 1941 Cadillac Series 62 Clark Gable car (Reed Berry)

This may have been designed as a tribute to convertibles, however, it really is a mixture of many automotive makes and models. There are hot rods and muscle cars, vintage trucks, customs and luxury hardtops. While most are stylish, eye-catching older models that anyone would be proud to own, a few are rather plain and unattractive and, apparently, are just in the show for the sake of being old and still running.

If I have to pick a favorite in today’s show, it is probably the stately 1941 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe once owned by Hollywood icons Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Interestingly, their romance had been a bit of a secret until they made their first public appearance together at a midget car racing event in 1936 at Gilmore Stadium, located on the original Farmers Market property. Gable and Lombard are no longer with us, but looking at the car they once drove makes one realize how glamorous their lives must have been during the golden age of Hollywood.

Other personal favorites in today’s show include a big, impressive 1929 Packard Dual Cowl Phaeton and a sleek, stylish 1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner hardtop retractable convertible originally owned by a Las Vegas magician who restored the car to its original appearance in 1996 and sold it to its current owner in 1999. It is equipped with a rare and powerful Thunderbird Interceptor 352 engine as well as its original stainless steel skirts.

Founded in 1995, the Gilmore Heritage Auto Show pays tribute to the rich automotive history of Los Angeles, and what better way to do that than with today’s tribute to the American convertible. The grand finale of today’s event is an impressive end-of-show drive-off in which all show cars traverse the entire Farmers Market property.


1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxie Skyliner hardtop retractable convertible (Reed Berry)

For more information about the show, click here.

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