Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vermont Auto Enthusiasts' 51st Annual Antique & Classic Car Meet at Stowe, VT

Inspired, in part, by the promise of freedom offered by the bold American cars being produced during the first half of the 20th century, "Jack Kerouac uttered the question, "Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night? " Of course, Kerouac was equally inspired by booze, drugs and a insatiable appetite for high adventure on the open road.

But that was then. Today we must ask, wither goest America's shiny cars? Today's autos are fast, smooth and quiet machines capable of providing efficient and safe travel. In a new Ford or Chevy it is almost guaranteed you'll reach your intended destiny. How boring. There is as much soul in '08 Impala as there is in my Kenmore upright. No wonder sales are down.

But this weekend, in Stowe, the old cars, in all their flamboyant glory, are back. Behold these marvels, these finned, chromed and bedazzled gems of the old roads. Now close your eyes and imagine burning through the soft prairie night on a cross-country bender. That's driving. That's living. That's the kind of ride for me.

Look at this! Vespa made cars! I think this fuel-sipping, micro car makes the Smart Car look like a Ford Expedition. My daughter has requested a Mustang for her 16th birthday but maybe she'll get one of these. There's certainly no room for necking. Ha ha ha!

The '55 Vette is a favorite of mine and I was elated to see one at the show. In terms of appearance the '55 was almost identical to the '53 and '54 models. What set this particular vintage apart from its predecessors was its powerplant. It should be noted that America's first sports car was originally equipped with an anemic, 235 cu-inch inline six that produced 155 horsepower. It wasn't until 1955, in an effort to make the Corvette a viable alternative to the debuting V8-powered Ford Thunderbird, that Chevrolet offered an eight-cylinder engine for its fiberglass-bodied speedster. Beneath the hood of this specimen lurks a 265 cu-inch, 195 hp V8 lifted directly from Chevy's passenger car line. When mated to the optional, three-speed manual, the V8-powered '55 Vette was truly sporting. Unfortunately, most '55 Vettes, like the one pictured here, came equipped with a power-robbing two-speed automatic gearbox.

Whoah, after seeing this German military Pinzgauer - equipped with real, assault rifles - I was on the lookout for goose-stepping David Duke types.

The Fiat Multipla: I'm very infatuated with this multi-purpose Italian utility wagon. I wouldn't be opposed to owning such a vehicle - even if it only has a 25-hp engine. Gee, my lawn mower has a 6-hp Briggs and Stratton unit and it requires me to invest all the power needed for forward motion. On second thought, I bet - with a bit of finessing - a modern sport-bike mill would fit the existing engine bay. With a small-displacement Honda bike engine - which typicaly produce 100 hp or so - this little Fiat could keep up with traffic.

1 comment:

Laura said...

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