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CLASSIC AUTO SHOW Even the second one’s the charm

Published on Mon, Mar 12, 2018

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Keeping things fresh—it’s a trick that can be difficult. Last year’s Classic Auto Show in LA was fantastic. I went two days in a row, and the second was better than the first, as I detailed for LA Car. At the time, I wondered—would it be the same next year? Not that that would invalidate it, but you know the thing that happens. You go once, you go again, and you realize the third time that you’ve done this enough.

That’s not at all what’s going on at this year’s Classic, held in the Convention Center downtown March 2-4. And I’m already looking forward to the next one, to be held March 23-24, 2019.

There’s so much to see it’s overwhelming. Good overwhelming. It’s like a car club of almost every marque gathered all at once, and they all brought their best stuff.

It’s not all million-dollar babies, either. There was a very cool VW Squareback. I liked a couple of Nissan 240s. Or was that Datsun back then? There were a bunch of Mustangs, though mostly pretty highly restored. Then there were some quirky cars. In fact, there were so many French cars (Citroen, for starters) that they have their own umbrella organization. The car of those that was the most heart-grabbing: a 1966 Citroen garage find that ran on a two-cylinder air cooled engine.
That was backed up by a blue Mazda RX3, and that’s part of what was so great about this show—it reminded me of so many cars that you just don’t see any more.

The Grand Boulevard of car is a varied collection, not (as I recall it), the collection of what the pretentious call “full classics” that was last year. And they’re parked at forty-five degree angles so that you can walk between them and see their lovely faces surprising you with the variety. This is a great idea—my grand is not yours, and that guy’s over there, well, it’s neither of ours. But this collection gave everyone something to admire.

How about a yellow 1959 Nash Metropolitan Coupe?

What you admire is not just the car itself. It’s the money, time, and talent put into creating these machines. The customs—for instance, Lowriders from the Imperials Car Club—are way past what most people could dream up. Literally every square inch has been treated to customization, down to the brake rotors. The paint is amazing, as are the graphics. To tell the truth, the style has never really been my thing (anyone who knows me knows my cars have to be as stock as on day one). But these cars amazed me. They’re so rich in workmanship, innovation, and love.

A bunch of movie cars turned up. Naturally there was a Back to the Future DeLorean. Also present was a Jab from the Austin Powers franchise, and a Magnum PI Ferrari. But how about this—the 1937 Olds used in the most recent remake of A Christmas Story, which was the live version on Fox TV at Christmas. Gerald Gonzales owns it.

Vendors had booths, too. Transport companies, the Tub O’ Towels people, and the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while: an automatic car cover. No kidding. You put this pod on top of the car, and a car cover comes out. When you want to take it off, you push a button and zip! It manages to spin the cover back into the pod.

Something else to note: this year’s show is bigger than last year’s by the simple measure that there’s a downstairs part. Not to be missed, this at first seemed like mostly trucks. But wandering further, I found a Mustang club and some drag cars. And a lovely 1972 Plymouth Satellite Sebring Plus, in blue. Worth the go.

Finally, this show is about the people who have lately become car celebs. And practically all of them were there—Chip Foose, Dennis Gage, Mike Brewer, and others sat on panels talking about all manner of restoration, values, and other topics. And they signed autographs, too, as did a bunch of automotive writers at the Autobooks/Aerobooks booth. When I walked by, there was Linda Vaughn, signing away.

A plethora of riches, human and mechanical, this show.

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