There is perhaps no classic event in the northeast that brings out more hard to find domestic cars than the Rhinebeck Spring Dust Off. But every year there are one or two foreign cars that simply reset the bar. A few years ago it was the Tatra 613 that we have since seen up close, and this year it was the Volvo 343DL, with the similarly engineered DAF 66 a close second. But as much as I’d like to make it seem that this sort of thing is normal for Rhinebeck, it just simply isn’t. And since you weren’t there on Sunday, you missed it, and you will never see it again. That is, until Hooniverse does a feature on a Volvo 343DL.
Getting back to what Rhinebeck is about, it is undoubtedly about insanely rare American cars. Cars that you didn’t know existed, cars that your dad never saw in Road & Track, and cars that Road & Track never got to test because it didn’t exist yet. This year’s 42nd annual Rhinebeck featured not only tremendously rare cars from all over the northeast, but unbelievably nice weather as well, for the fifth year in a row as a matter of fact. And now that I’ve jinxed it, prepare to bring an umbrella and rubber boots to next year’s Spring Dust Off. Organized by the Hudson River Valley Antique Auto Association and held on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, this event is actually two car shows in one, with hot rods and custom cars taking center field on Saturday, and unmodified classic and antique cars appearing on Sunday. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from this year.
One of the best surprises of Rhinebeck 2013 among imported cars was this 1978 Volvo 343DL, which wasn’t really imported at all. Stated to be just one of two running examples in the US, this DAF-designed Volvo was owned by a Swedish diplomat based at the San Francisco consulate for many years, who sold it on eBay to its current owner in 2010. Built from 1976 until 1991, the 340-series cars were engineered by DAF, which was purchased by the Swedish automaker just before the car entered production. These cars are of course famous for their Variomatic continuously variable transmission, which premiered in the DAF 600. This sharp example has just 77,000 kilometers on the clock, and resides in a DAF collection in Vermont right next to another Volvo 340-series.
Rhinebeck is known for attracting rare American station wagons, and few cars fit the bill more than this Rambler Classic 660 Cross Country. Produced for just two short model years in 1965 and 1966, this was the third generation of the Rambler Classic. Power came courtesy of straight-six and V8 engines, with the top of the line 5.4 liter V8 making 270bhp. A sharp example, this Rambler was last seen here at Rhinebeck in 2012.
It was a real treat to see this nicely preserved Plymouth Fury from 1961. You will perhaps recall that this basic design language was around for a very short period of time. Replacing the Belvedere nameplate 1959, the Fury name was used on Plymouth models that were offered in basically all body styles except for a wagon. While the 1960 Fury featured quite dramatic tailfins, the styling was toned down for the next model year, which the car above hails from. Since it is mostly the coupe and convertible full-size models from that period that survive, it was nice to see a four door sedan for a change, especially given the short period of time this particular body stayed in production.
Another rare wagon at Rhinebeck was this 1978 Mercury Marquis owned by Jay Hirsch. This one appears to have been sold new by L&B Lincoln Mercury in West Babylon, NY, which is actually on Long Island, just a few miles east of Levittown. It’s nice to see that these full-size seventies station wagon are becoming collectible, and Rhinebeck had quite a few of these on display this year. Still, some 1970s woodie wagons are more special than others, and it tends to be the earlier Buicks that are gathering the most attention right now. Even so, it was nice to see this dark red Mercury example, which appeared to be wearing original paint and still retained its old-style yellow NY state license plate.
A total of 135 Edsel Ranger four-door hardtops are reported to have been made for the 1960 model year, which represented the second-generation of the Edsel line. So this stunning example may have very well been the rarest production passenger car to appear at Rhinebeck this year. The only version of the second-generation Edsel that is rarer than this example is the 2-door convertible, just 76 of which were reportedly made. A number of convertible “tribute cars” have since popped up, but I haven’t heard of 4-door hardtops being reproduced in any way. This stunning hardtop was in excellent condition throughout, with very impressive brightwork. The mere acreage of the brightwork hinted just how much effort was spent on restoring this example, and this is the type of car that I enjoy seeing the most at Rhinebeck every year – a well preserved or painstakingly restored automobile from the of which only dozens survive.
Ed Mance brought this nice 1972 Mercury Cougar XR7 Convertible to Rhinebeck this year. This example is in original condition and has just 24,000 miles on the clock. The second-generation Cougar of course featured the 351 Cleveland V8. This is considered one of the last true muscle cars, even though we do not see the Cougar very often at shows, especially in convertible form. By the time the model was replaced in 1973, the automotive landscape had changed greatly.
Never short on Edsels, the 2013 edition of the Rhinebeck Spring Dust Off featured this wonderful Edsel Villager. A few of you will perhaps recall the 1960 Edsel Villager station wagon that appeared at the 2010 Hemmings New England Concours d’Elegance when that event was held at the Stratton Mountain resort. The white example at Hemmings New England concours featured the facelifted Edsel fascia, while this is an earlier version of the Villager station wagon. This example bore a dealer badge from Central Motors of Pueblo, Colorado, just beneath the hatch handle, a dealership that no longer exists. But it’s nice to see that this example survived the harsh Colorado climate.
A nicely restored 1970 AMC Javelin, this was one of several examples that had made the trip to Rhinebeck this year. This Javelin appeared to be in concours condition throughout, right down to the Goodyear Polyglas E70/14 tires. This example is owned by Andy White of Cochectin, New York.
Even though I’d never thought that I’d want to own an actual pickup truck, every year the Rhinebeck Spring Dust off forced me to reconsider, almost to the point of blurting out numbers at the bewildered owners sitting in their lawn chairs next to their prized cars. I think I may have done that a couple times actually, leading to some interesting conversations. But let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to take this Chevrolet Apache home? (Regardless of whether its actually for sale or not). My only concern with this example was that I’d be too scared of actually putting anything in it, like groceries from Whole Foods. Cause those paper bags could be sharp.
Here’s another car I wanted to blurt out a number at, even though it wasn’t in the car corral and the owners didn’t look like they were selling it. That’s right, this is a Ford LTD from 1972 and it’s all original, right down to the paint. Which is impressive, cause the paint looked almost new. This example is owned by Alton Poole and is nicknamed “Big Red.” A true survivor in every sense of the word, because when was the last time you saw one of these in concours condition? And how about just in running condition?
Another sharp Chevrolet at Rhinebeck 2013 was Marc Morea’s 1974 Chevelle Malibu Classic. The third-generation Chevelle range, as you will recall, went through a number of complex model range nomenclature changes as well as cosmetic changes since its introduction in 1972, with the Malibu Classic emerging as the top of the range model for the 1974 model year. This example, I believe, is in original unrestored condition.
A sharp looking 1970 Buick Wildcat, this example is owned by Bill White. You may recall that 1970 was the last year for the Wildcat, with the Buick Centurion taking over the role of the large personal coupe and convertible. Powered by Buick’s 7.0 and 7.5 liter V8s throughout its production cycle, the Wildcat was one of the largest GM cars in this segment.
Another crowd pleaser this year was Luis Soto’s 1972 Buick Estate Wagon. A local car from Wappingers Falls, NY, this example had clearly been well taken car of over the years. 1972 was the second year of production for this second-generation Estate Wagon, and not only were these one of the largest Buicks ever built, they were also the heaviest at more than 5,400 lb curb weight. Sharing many mechanicals with the Electra, the Estate Wagon was powered by Buick’s 7.4 liter 455 V8.
Not an odd car at all for the Rhinebeck Spring Dust Off, this Ford Pinto from 1973 is a local and belongs to Robert McNamara. This example wears a correct color, and appears to never have been repainted. Having spent a few minutes looking at this example, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all the details were in place and that the chrome had lost very little lustre over the years. It’s always nice to see well-kept common classics, and no event in the northeast does this as well as Rhinebeck.
Another great “common classic” at Rhinebeck was this 1971 Ford Maverick Grabber owned by Benjamin Ferris. Originally designed to be an import fighter, the Maverick sold alongside FoMoCo’s other small cars such as the Ford Pinto and Mercury Bobcat starting in 1969. Ford was slightly ahead of the curve when it came to smaller cars in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the Big Three were still in the midst of the muscle car wars at a time when this car premiered. This particular example is in the muscle-themed Grabber trim, which was available from 1970 through 1975 on the Maverick. I believe this example is finished in Ford’s Meadowlark Yellow, which suits it wonderfully.
That’s it for this year, gents. Remember to bring an umbrella and Wellies for next year’s Rhinebeck Spring Dust Off, which will be taking place at the same location on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. The town of Rhibeck is just a couple hours north from Gotham along Route 9, and three and a half hours west of Boston. If you’re traveling from Boston (why wouldn’t you be?) take the Taconic Parkway south from the Turnpike, as the views along that road are incredible and worth stopping for.
Full gallery below.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]