It's that time of the year when the indoor car show season is in full bloom. As I write this editorial everyone is standing around looking and wondering who will be this year's winner of the Grand National Roadster Show's coveted America's Most Beautiful Roadster award. Regardless, there will be those who will roll their eyes in amazement and others who will see the merits. But one thing's for sure, most will be unhappy. If for no other reason than a lifetime of attending indoor car shows has trained us to not like the results. But what does all this mean?
For starters, indoor car shows go in cycles, like everything in life. From time to time I find the build styles of the cars competing to be right in my wheelhouse-I thoroughly enjoy them. These cars strike a chord with me. Then there's the era (or eras) when the build styles leave me cold. I guess that's the difference between show cars and hot rods. I'm more of a hot rod kind of rodder and prefer cars that look like there's a snowball's chance in hell that they might someday be driven on the street.
There isn't a bigger complainer about indoor car shows than myself. I moan and groan about the pain in the rectum of moving cars in, the nightmare of parking (and don't even talk to me about trailer parking), and last but not least the sheer joy of the actual move in of your car. I mean, have you ever come closer to wanting to strangle someone other than the person in front of you who can't understand a word you are saying!
My favorite indoor car show cars generally move toward the unusual and not the main characters in this one-act play. My favorite at this year's GNRS is the race car transporter belonging to Don Orosco of Pebble Beach, California. There isn't a hot rodder alive who doesn't need or hasn't needed a trailer at some time during the build of his pride and joy. Now if you are going to have a trailer wouldn't it be nice to make the leap to a transporter. Given we are hot rodders and like old stuff, what better way to haul your hot rods, yes plural, to events around the county? Of course, you can always unload along the way and select your ride based on the roads and scenery. I can dream, can't I?
In Orosco's case he has a '56 Fiat Series 306/2 Bartoletti Grand Prix transporter originally built for the Maserati factory race team. The transporter went through several iterations but as you see it here it is in its restored glory as it may have appeared in the Metallic Blue livery of Lance Reventlow's '60 Scarab Grand Prix team. Orosco hauls around his vintage racing Scarabs and the combination has proven to be a jaw dropping, eye popping, rolling masterpiece of modern craftsmanship on an old beauty.
It wasn't until 1963 that the transporter picked up the second rear axle. And that's where my blossoming enthusiasm for all things fast begins. Dare I say, there isn't an aging hot rodder who doesn't have some knowledge of the Cobra sports car and Carroll Shelby and the subsequent battles with the Corvette, Ferrari, and the eventual dual for a manufacturer's title through Ford Motor company.
The Cobra went through a number of changes starting with the 260 V-8, then the venerable 289, then the 427, and of course the Daytona coupe; arguably the ultimate in the Cobra line of venomous snakes. Well, as a young'un, I watched the 12 Hours of Sebring the same weekend that the Beatles made their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. (They appeared on three consecutive weekends beginning Feb. 9, 1963, the 16, Sebring weekend, and the 23. The 16 had special significance since it was my birthday.)
Sebring was run on my birthday and that was also the infamous episode of Wide World of Sports who brought the race into my house, in black and white. Right before my eyes I watched as one of the mechanics during a pit stop was doused with gasoline and he himself caught on fire. Talk about making an impression. Well, I will never forget the Beatles, The Ed Sullivan Show, or the Wide World of Sports. But that's just the beginning.
In watching film of the European competition where the Cobras took on the Ferrari factory team I remember seeing a photo in a magazine of the transporter that delivered my American pride race cars: the factory Cobra team. At the forefront was the Daytona coupe sitting on the top rails of the transporter. Again an image burned into my mind forever. So you can imagine my shear surprise, wonderment, and excitement when I walked into Building 9 (the race car exhibit at the GNRS) to see for the first time in my life the transporter that carried one of my all-time favorite race cars (the list also includes Corvettes and the Scarabs). Here was this magnificent beast of a truck restored to an impeccable level. Now I know why I so thoroughly enjoy the indoor car show season. It never fails as memories from deep within the recesses of my mind, memories buried on my mind's pages, come to the forefront making all the little car show peccadilloes go away, and I realize it's all worth the effort. I sure do enjoy the indoor car show series.