On Cars & Motorcycles & Coffee…….A Pictorial of sorts.

The weather over Memorial Day weekend was perfect for my hometowns monthly Cars & Coffee gathering in Greenville, South Carolina. Just like The Meltdown Vintage Motorcycle show that we rave about each year, our monthly Cars & Coffee is a great grass roots petrol fest of two and four wheels. People of all ages; Millenials, Geezers, Hipsters, Gen X,Y&Z, small kids, big kids, dogs…..all coming out to see, smell, and hear the sound of internal combustion engines housed in all kinds of sheet metal skin. As the temps are starting to get quite a bit warm, the usually large canine contingent was noticeably under represented this day.

So, enough words. Here are some of the more interesting, aesthetic, weird, freaky and WTF cars and bikes we came across. Enjoy!

Motorbikes had a good turnout

Modern and Vintage. It was all here.

A Thing? C’mon. Everyone remembers VW’s Thing. Soooo ugly it’s beautiful! And you too, can have this one.

A Cornucopia of really beautiful, really fast cars. Check out the kid, already pointing out the attributes of a Ferrari to his dad.

The French Invasion: a weird little car is this Citroen

The weirdness continues……………..

In the market for a beautiful, upscale, Italian Roadster? Alfa Romeo 4C. Where do I sign?

Back to the Bikes

You want patina? This guy’s got patina. Used to be called rust.

We’ll end with the freak in the room……………. WTF?

 

 

The Cars of Italy at Euro Auto Fest

Italy. Just saying the name conjures up idyllic images in my brain: my grandparents living their lives in a small village before emigrating to America, espresso cafes in the courtyards, delicious food and wine, passionate and emotional people, the Italian Grand Prix and the Mille Miglia.

Then, there are the motorcycles. Cagiva, Bimota, Aprilia, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Laverda. The scooters of Lambretta and of course, Vespa, bringing forth the image of Audrey Hepburn riding one in the classic film, Roman Holiday. As a motorcyclist, my excitement shifts into overdrive whenever I come in contact with an Italian motorbike, vintage or modern. I’m still working on procuring that Moto Guzzi for the garage.

But today it’s all about cars. Italian cars. Beautiful Italian works of art. I mentioned the passion and emotion of the Italian people, and they put that passion and emotion into all the cars and motorbikes they build.

So here we are, Roo and I, at the Euro Auto Festival in our hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, about to enter the world of Italian automobiles. Italy is the featured country this year, and The Cars of Italy section of Euro Auto Fest is where these beautiful vehicles are displayed.

The Italian flag flies at the entrance to Cars of Italy

There are a number of Italian marques on display here: Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Maserati, Lamborghini. But by far, the one marque taking up the most real estate on the fairway, and drawing the largest crowds, was none other than Ferrari.

The prancing horse is probably the most recognized Italian automobile badge by the general population. Show it to someone off the street and chances are they will say “Oh, yeah. I know that. That’s the car Magnum P. I. drives, right?” Right you are.

That’s not bubbled paint. It was raining on and off all day.

Probably every Ferrari you see on the road will be painted red (mostly because you won’t see that many!). Most all of them here are painted red as well. However, recently, Ferrari came out with a new color for Enzo’s creation: Ferrari Blue. Up to this point, I had only seen photos of this interesting color. I didn’t quite know what to think of it being on a Ferrari, until I saw one here at Euro Auto Fest. It works! And it is gorgeous!

The Ferrari on the right is the new Portofino Roadster, in Ferrari Blue

I call this “Fishing in a Ferrari”, an upscale take on the dating scene. Who needs on-line dating?

These are cars I can honestly say I will never own. Never. Even the Portofino, Ferrari’s “entry level” car, sits north of 250,000 large. Never say never just doesn’t stand a chance here. It is said, to own a Ferrari is a privilege. That is a privilege I will never have. Sigh. I am content to looking at these automobiles for what they are; beautiful works of Italian art. Let’s look at the gallery:

Next up on our list of Italian marvels is Fiat. Fiat had some wonderfully styled cars back in the day. I never owned one, but a high school buddy had the original 124 Spider two seat roadster. We had so much fun in that car, and it drove pretty well….when it ran. Back then, Fiat was plagued with reliability issues, so much so that the company name became an acronym for the phrase Fix IAgain Tony. But hey, it was the ’70’s. I don’t think there were many reliable cars made then!

Fiat 124 Spider 1970’s style

Next to the Spyder sat another throwback in the Fiat time machine, the Fiat X19. Wow! This thing makes my MX-5 look absolutely HUGE! The X19 looks like it sports 10 inch wheels! But this car had and still does have a cult following. Cute though.

Fiat X19 featuring the ever-leaking Targa top and teeny tiny wheels

Today, Fiat is back in the car business and making inroads to the U.S. market. Gaining popularity here in the States is Fiat’s answer to the crossover craze; The Fiat 500 and 500 Abarth (upgrade package).

Fiat 500 Abarth

Back to the Fiat 124 Spider. I mentioned the fun I had driving my buddy’s original version of the Fiat roadster. In 2017, Fiat partnered with Mazda to create the modern 124 Spider. OMG! This is the next Roadster I want when I give up the MX-5. I have sat in it, but have yet to take it for a test drive. Then there are the rumors floating around that Fiat will not be long for these United States. But, the car is gorgeous, is ergonomically correct for me, is a bit larger than the comparable MX-5, and, with affordable performance upgrades, can be made much more powerful. We will see…..

Forty-five years later: The new Fiat 124 Spider

Alfa Romeo is an Italian marque one doesn’t see or hear much about here in the States. Alfa has made some beautiful classic autos in the past, and like Fiat, is trying to make itself known in the U.S. with it’s cross-over Stelvio and Guilia sedan models.

Alfa Romeo’s classic Spyder two seat roadster. Every now and then I will see one on the roads.

Alfa Romeos can be immediately recognized by their triangle grills; some small, some large, but always present on both their classic and modern autos.

Lamborghini. A pure racing pedigree and Supercar icon. You’ll see more Ferrari’s on the road than you will Lamborghini’s, if you ever see one at all. Today, Lambo makes some of the most outlandish Supercars and Hypercars you will ever see.

Lamborghini’s dip into the world of Supercars was the Miura. Some say the Miura started the Supercar genre. Depends who you talk to. But, in my mind, the Miura is the most beautiful car Lamborghini has ever produced.

Lamborghini Miura

The Lamborghini Countach is an awesome vehicle, but to my aesthetic sensibilities, it is too harsh looking, much too angular. But what a very impressive automobile!

Lamborghini Countach

Maserati

I have mixed feelings about Maserati. I have zero interest in their sedans, but then, I have zero interest in sedans generally. The reason being, Maserati sedans look like every other sedan on the road today. Why would I want to spend upwards of 60 to 70 thou for a car that looks like a Buick (complete with quarter panel portholes), or a Kia? But drop Maserati’s coupe or roadster in my driveway, and I’m all in:

They are beautiful, aren’t they?

Now here’s an Italian marque I knew about, but have never seen on the roads. In fact, I believe this is the first time I have ever seen Lancia automobiles in a car show. Always overshadowed by its more popular and flashy brethren. Lancia. The largely forgotten Italian marque (at least here in the States).

The Cars of Italy was a fantastic segment of the Euro Automobile Festival. It did rain on and off all day, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the enthusiast spectators and car owner participants alike. We were looking forward to this show all year, and it did not disappoint.

 

 

 

 

 

Hilton Head Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance Part 4

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Port Royal Golf Club, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

 310After the excitement of Roo helping the BMW win Best in Category, we moved on to the next category of motorbikes: 1954- 1973. Maybe Roo could do the same favor for one of these motorcycles.

This BMW did win without Roo’s help.

Remember these? These bikes have there own cult following.

An interesting enduro custom on a Spanish Bultaco

Next up was the motorcycle preservation class. This class is made up of motorbikes that have not been restored other than to replace missing parts and to get the engine in running order. In other words, “as is.” Some bikes in this class have been found in pristine condition, having been meticulously cared for by their owner(s) through the years. Others, not so much.

Interestingly, Preservation Class in motorcycle and automobile events is gaining steam with collectors and buyers. Instead of squeaky clean, spit and polish, shiny chromed out perfection, people are turning their interest more towards the worn look. Tatstes change, and will change again, I suppose.

Roo always finds a way to get in the picture (that’s her by the pole).

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Very well preserved.

Sweet!

Now that’s what I call “as is.” Yes, it does run!

Bidding the motorbikes farewell for now, we moved on to a special class of automobiles, that were, and are still, way out of my class, but lit the Sports Car fire in me when I was but 13 years old.

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At the beach near my hometown with my family, dad parked the car and we walked toward the entrance to the beach. On the way through the parking lot sat a car that I immediately fell in love with. At 13 years old, I was already into cars, and couldn’t wait to get my license. This car made my knees shake, it was so gorgeous. As I got older, I thought this automobile was the sexiest, most beautiful, piece of art on four wheels, until I discovered Italian cars. But this vehicle still electrifies me and turns my head whenever I see one.

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At the time, the Jaguar E-Type exemplified beauty, sleekness, flowing lines, and with that V-12 motor, speed and power.

As Jaguar had it’s own section of fairway, all other English marques had to share some golf course real estate.

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Austin Healeys always attract the attention of gawkers. This 3000 Mk III is flawless.

A very interesting English Sports Car came into view, one we had never heard of before or even seen photos of in magazines. But what a stunner! To some, it may look like a cartoon car, and in a way it does (picture Roger Rabbit at the wheel), but it is beautiful none the less……….

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What would English Sports Cars be without the marque most folks associate with English Sports Cars:

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The Italians

Ah! The Italians. Beautiful women, wonderful food, fantastic wine. But there is something more in the vehicles they manufacture. How the Italians infuse beauty and sex appeal into their automobiles and motorcycles is anyone’s guess. But they do, and only they do. Ever hear anyone describe a Triumph or BSA as sexy? No. How about a Ferrari or Moto Guzzi? Oh yes! Nuff said.

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Most cars and motorcycles produced in the 1980’s were ugly ducklings and truly forgettable. Everything was square: headlights, tail lights, instrument gauges, body styles. I’m surprised the wheels escaped “squaredom.” Not so this black beauty. Ferrari stayed true to it’s roots of beauty, power, and sex appeal.

Ferrari and Testarossa are always spoken of in the same breath.

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You might call this the “practical Ferrari.”

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Uh Oh! I knew it had to happen. Roo has found a Ferrari that meets her criteria of “cute” and kind of “nerdy”, with the power to bring out her inner Mario Andretti. This is one beautiful automobile.

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The afternoon was waning, and soon it would be time for the judging of the 2015 Concours d’Elegance Best in Show. But first, we had one more exhibit to visit, showcasing cars that most of us today can actually relate to, and may have owned in years past.

American Muscle

The Muscle Car Era in American automobile production was relatively short lived, but had a tremendous impact on the American car culture scene. Most folks, when they hear the term “muscle car”, think of cars in the 1960’s and 70’s. In reality, the era of the muscle car began way back in the 1930’s, when “moonshiners” would “hop up” their cars for increased horsepower to outrun the Federal Revenuers during Prohibition. These were all “home grown” modified.

However, production by the “big three”, Ford, GM, and Chrysler, wouldn’t begin until the late 1950’s, when they started building power plants that could generate tremendous horsepower and would make dad in his sedan feel like a race car driver. The thrill of driving was about to begin.

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Most of us today think of the Muscle Car Era as the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. However, by then, the era of big horsepower and speed was in decline. The golden age of American Muscle Cars was actually from the early 1960’s to 1967. Even pop culture got on the muscle car wagon with the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean and others singing songs like “She’s so Fine, My 409; Little GTO; My Rocket 88; Dead Man’s Curve,  and others. The cars in this exhibit showcased the Golden Age of American Muscle.

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This car was huge, and gave new meaning to the “performance family car.”

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Probably more than any other marque at the time, Pontiac came out with what would be  known as the most recognizable muscle car of the era. Affectionately known as “The Goat”, the GTO put Pontiac on the muscle car map for good.

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Ford still had it’s Thunderbird, but it didn’t create much of a stir with the muscle crowd. While it was still a looker, it didn’t match up to performance standards. Ford was slipping behind.

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Dodge, Chevrolet, and Oldsmobile were all big players in the muscle car wars at this time: Dodge Chargers and Challengers, Chevy Camaros, and Oldsmobile’s iconic Cutlass 442, were all squeezing Ford out of the game. Ford decided to pull out all the stops with its original Pony car: The Mustang. By this time the Mustang was nothing more than a cute ride for high schooler’s to impress the girls with. But Ford had big plans for the little Mustang, and enlisted the body and engine design of the man whose name alone became synonymous with the American muscle car era: Carol Shelby.

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The new design would be known as the Shelby Cobra, and it would catapult  the Mustang into one of the leading muscle cars in the late 1960’s. The badge on the Mustangs needed no explanation. When you saw the Cobra, you knew it was a Carol Shelby design.

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Mustangs on the Midway

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This is the Shelby design that did it for the lowly Mustang and put Ford right back in the muscle car “race.” It didn’t disappoint. Sales soared, and the little pony car, now known as the Shelby Mustang, became a household name.

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By the late 60’s, American Muscle was on the decline. Interest in monster horsepower performance for the street was losing ground. The oil embargo of the early seventies was the death nell of the muscle car, along with cheap Japanese imports. American Muscle was gone.

Or was it? Today, the American muscle car is back. Baby Boomers pining for the cars of their youth sparked the resurgence of the muscle car. Modern “retro” versions of those iconic cars of the 60’s are everywhere. Look on the roads of America today and you see modern versions of Dodge Challengers and Chargers, Chevrolet Camaros, and Chrysler 300’s. Best of all, Ford has brought back the Shelby Cobra Mustang in it’s modern Shelby GT 350, a pure beast of a car. All are beautiful while pushing out huge gobs of torque and horsepower with modern technology. American Muscle is back in full force!

It was now time for us to make our way to the far end of the Motoring Midway for the main, and, final event of this years Concours:

2015 Hilton Head Concours d’Elegance Best In Show

I don’t envy the job of these judges, nor do I understand how they choose a Best In Show from all these exemplary vehicles. I know they have strict protocols and checklists to go by, but some subjectivity must creep in, I imagine. For them, it is a labor of love. So, here’s how it played out:

The Runner’s Up

1957 Ghia Dual-Ghia Convertible – Founder’s Award (3rd place)

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1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster – People’s Choice Award (2nd place)

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Best In Show

1933 Chrysler Custom Imperial Phaeton

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There was no Best In Show for the motorcycle categories. These were the three winners:

1968 Triumph Rickman Metisse 

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1939 BMW R51 (with a beautiful woman’s help)

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1965 BMW R69S

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The sun was setting on the Port Royal Golf Course as we made our way to the Clubhouse and exit. We didn’t want to leave. This was our first Concours, and we were impressed and looking forward to coming back here and to others in the region. Matter of fact, St. Augustine, Florida has a motorcycle only Concours d’Elegance each spring. See you there, perhaps?

 

 

 

 

Hilton Head Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance Part 2

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Port Royal Golf Club, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Day 1 (continued)

The Motoring Midway is the centerpiece of the Concours. But sprinkled around the rest of the golf course are special exhibits that highlight certain vehicles or periods of time. One of those exhibits is titled “Life in the Suburbs” sponsored by GMC. Life in the Suburbs portrays the vehicles you would have seen had you been living in suburban America between the late 1940’s and mid to late 1960’s.

Special Exhibit: Life in the Suburbs

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Recognize your first bike anywhere?

Did this ice cream scooter come through your neighborhood?

Very 1950’s

Moving on to the 1960’s love generation, a very cool custom VW Bus

Vespa’s were very popular in the 1950’s & 60’s. Put a couple of beagles in that sidecar and you got yourself a babe magnet!

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Let’s pay tribute to the po-po. Anybody see where Barney went?

Don’t forget the moto-cops

Everybody loves a Woody. This is a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe.

We had one more special exhibit we wanted to see before days end, which was on the other side of the Motoring Midway. To get there, we had to force ourselves to endure the astounding beauty, sexiness, and real power of one of Italy’s premier car makers: Ferrari.

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Roo takes meticulous notes on the cars she wants to purchase. I’m getting worried……

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But she’d sure look cute in it!

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The Italians know how to do it right………..

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Unique to this Concours was a maritime exhibit showcasing beautiful wood boats from the 1930’s. These beautiful water craft exuded wealth, opulence, and excess. If you had one of these in the 1930’s during the Great Depression, running about on the lake while eating lunch and drinking champagne, you were one wealthy individual.

Special Exhibit: On The Water

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Photos can’t do justice to the grace and beauty that these wooden craft exemplify. Plying the lakes and rivers during the summer months, these boats must have been a sight to behold.

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A few years ago, Harley Davidson had a fantastic print ad campaign that showed a suburban gentleman mowing his lawn while a biker on a Harley rode past him. The man mowing his lawn is thinking, “Someday I’m going to get a motorcycle.” Harley’s tag line was: “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. See? No Someday. What are you waiting for?”

Brilliant, and can be applied to many things. Well, apparently, this yachtsman may also be a biker because he found his Someday:

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It was getting late in the day, and the Concours shuts down at 4 PM to prepare for the next days event. Walking back to the Port Royal Clubhouse, we stop to ogle this beautiful example of America’s sports car:

Just about ready to leave, Roo runs ahead to another auto that caught her eye, and, of course, starts taking notes and photos. I’m getting more worried as the day goes on:

I always thought the old Volvo’s were pretty cool. This one is a 1972 Volvo 1800 ES, and , I have to admit, it is very “Roo.” She thinks so too.

By now they are “shooing” people to the exits. Tonight, they roll these cars and motorbikes off the greens and fairways, to be replaced with a whole new set of vehicles! Can’t wait for the morning! For now, we head to the beach for a walk as we watch the sun set.

Next post: Day 2: Special exhibits; beautiful vintage bikes; Roo helps a vintage BMW motorcycle win Best in Category; Classic exotics.

 

Hilton Head Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance Part 1

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Port Royal Golf Club, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

For years, we have been wanting to attend this prestigious event, but there always seemed to be a scheduling conflict. We finally came to the realization that scheduling conflicts are nothing more than priorities. This year we made this event the priority.

For those unfamiliar with a Concours d’Elegance, these are events that showcase collectible automobiles, motorcycles, and in the case of this Concours, boats and airplanes as well. All this means is there is a ton of money in heavy metal gracing the fairways and greens of this exclusive venue. We were mixing it up with the rich and infamous at the swank Port Royal Golf Club on Hilton Head Island!

Port Royal Clubhouse

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 You may ask why a car show is being posted on a motorcycle travel blog. Well, first, this ain’t no run-of-the-mill car show. This is the creme de la creme event of selling, buying and ogling collectible and rare automobiles, many worth six figures! Second, there are motorcycles here as well. Collectible motorcycles. Again, BIG BUCKS!

Third, and the reason we are here. As much as we are motorcycle enthusiasts, we are also automobile enthusiasts. We love classic and vintage American and European cars. And the exotics, oh my god, the exotics!

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I come by my love of automobiles honestly and early in life, having grown up in the automotive parts industry. I was of legal and driving age at the tail end of the muscle car era, surrounded by Oldsmobile 4-4-2’s, Pontiac GTO’s, Dodge Chargers, Chevy Camaro’s and Corvettes, hopped up with Holley 4 barrel carb’s, Hurst shifters, turbocharger’s….. all ready for the Saturday night street drag.

The list of cars I have owned is made up of 90% sports cars, my preferred mode of four wheel conveyance: 1968 Mercury Cougar (302 V8), 1974 Triumph Spitfire, 1972 Opel GT (the poor man’s Vette), 1985 Pontiac Fiero (4 cyl.), 1986 Pontiac Fiero (6 cyl. turbo), to my current ride, a 2002 Saturn SC-2 (four very powerful hamsters).

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I took hundreds of pictures here. Fear not, all car photos will not be posted, but the motorcycle photos will be posted in their entirety. Even if cars aren’t your thing, one cannot deny the artistic beauty that these automobiles exemplify, just like motorcycles. Scroll down if you just want to look at the bikes, as I will have them listed under their own heading, as well as mixed in with the autos.

Day 1

Most, if not all, of Concours d’Elegance events are held at posh golf and country clubs in select cities: Pebble Beach Golf Club, Pebble Beach, California; Amelia Island Omni Resort, Amelia Island, Florida; World Golf Resort, St. Augustine, Florida; and here, Port Royal Golf Club, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Upscale  by any definition, and the crowd reflects this.

The Motoring Midway

The greens and fairways were filled with over 300 astounding works of automotive extravagance and the people who admire, lust after,  and collect them.

The bar and drink menu. I’ll have a Mustang Mary please……….

Take a break from the cars and play some chess, or just lounge on the provided sofas………

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 Ah, but you are waiting to see some cars, yes? Here is our first interlude of the day with beautiful autos on the 18th green, but first, heed this warning…….

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Now, feast your eyes (but keep one eye searching for reptiles!)

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 The Motoring Midway encompasses the fairways and greens of the golf course. Cars and bikes are set up on the midway and presented by marque, production years, and categories. This is a judged event, a competition taken very seriously by the owners of these automobiles and motorbikes. We were able to follow the judges, outfitted in their traditional khaki slacks, collared shirts with tie, blue blazers and straw hats, as they meticulously scrutinized each car and motorcycle. So, enough words. Let’s look at some cars and motorcycles!

Austin Healey

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Walking down the Motoring Midway, we came on to my favorite “genre” of automobile: The Sportscar. This part of the Midway was devoted to Car Clubs. Specific models of sports cars would come later.

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This Triumph is gorgeous!

Always wanted a Triumph TR6, the quintessential British sports car for the masses, sporting the must have British Racing Green paint scheme. 

 The Ferrari Club was here as well. Ferrari also has their own exhibit on the Motoring Midway

A beautiful Aston Martin………….

and Roo thinking how much payments might be………

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The weather was delightful, sunny, temps in the high 70’s, the sunlight bouncing off these immaculate machines and sometimes blinding us. Continuing on down the Motoring Midway, we both got even more excited than we already were as we came upon the first of the motorcycle exhibits. Not just any motorcycles mind you. These were the bikes that had ridden the grueling 2015 Cannonball Run!

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For those unfamiliar with the Cannonball Run, it is an annual, arduous, cross country ride on two lane back roads, east coast to west coast. What’s so hard about that? Sounds cool! Yes, except riders must ride vintage motorcycles, and for 2016, the organizers stipulate that motorcycles must be 100 years old or older to enter. That means your moto can be no older than a 1916 model! Doesn’t sound so easy anymore, does it?

The Cannonball Run was organized to honor E.G. Baker, who in 1913, shattered the existing transcontinental record, riding from San Diego, California to New York City on a 7 h.p., three speed Indian motorcycle. The speed at which he traveled earned him the nickname “cannonball.” He is now forever remembered in motorcycling lore as Cannonball Baker.

Cannonball Baker in NYC at the end of his transcontinental record run.

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The 2015 Cannonball Run Motorcycles

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Lest we forget, these motorbikes were not very reliable back in the day, or today for that matter. The mantra back then, and even today on wonderfully paved roads, was probably “ride, breakdown, wrench, repeat.” Mechanically declined individuals like myself need not apply for the Cannonball.

Next post: Part 2, Day 1 (continued): more exquisite autos, motorcycles, and even boats!