Above is a Cadillac. A spectacularly nice one at that. It’s a 1952 62 Series Golden Anniversary Special, but I only know that because the owner had also displayed a very detailed typed account of what I was looking at in one of the windows. Recognition of vintage Cadillacs isn’t a strong suit of mine, as much as I admire them.
And admire it I most certainly did, from the mirror-polished paintwork that looked deep enough to voyage through in a submarine, to the mercurial chrome which seemed far too artful to be applied to a mere automobile. A heap of the utmost magnificence. But as I stood in its immediate field of influence, hoping to somehow contract some of the coolness that it exuded, it got me thinking about the whole ethos of displaying cars at shows. Pride, obviously, is a huge part of it. But what else?
I’ve never shown a car at an organised event, other than a shopping centre car park where burnt rubber hung heavy in the air and clutch plates came to die. Well, it was sort of organised. Truth is, I’ve never really possessed a car that I deemed worthy of show, though maybe late 90’s Audi A4s and Rover 800s have more admirers than I give them credit for. But probably not. Anyway, I would probably display my car IF it was an interesting car.
The Cadillac we’re all staring slack-jawed in amazement at is certainly an interesting car. But when a car like this is displayed, the owners often don’t seem to think that in itself is enough. A good many of them turn out in period regalia. It’s like a localised time-warp back to early ’50s Michigan, only in a field in rural Essex.
This I like. I mean, who doesn’t like young women with crimson lips and nails, dressed to resemble the kind of pin-up art you might see on the nose of a B25? The men put on a good show, too, though they tend to be less kindly on the eyes. It ,made me ask the question, though, what comes first; the car or the scene?
Not that it really matters, of course, but I find it an interesting question. Does a person become part of the scene as a by-product of 50’s Cadillac ownership, by association? Or does somebody with a ‘5os US fixation develop the characteristics first and then end up buying the car to complete the image?
Have you ever bought a car specifically to become part of a scene? I know it happens, nothing else can explain the absurd money that MK3 VW Polos regulary change hands for apart from the ceaseless rise of the Dub-Scene. There’s the JDM and Drift scene, too, where all too often somebody with a strong urge to belong will buy the correct rear-drive Japanese car and put all the right stickers and accessories all over it, and finally learn to drift, often in wholly unsuitable places and often with carnage resulting (N.B I know this is a huge generalisation, but I swear it’s going on all over the place).
Nevertheless, it’s all good and healthy, and anything that promotes cars as a lifestyle must be positive. I’m just waiting for the Rover 800 scene to take off. Any moment now.
[Images: Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Chris Haining]