Cruising from jalopies to muscle cars at the Forest Park auto show – STLtoday.com
John Dahl’s 1950 Crosley tootles along with a cute little 28-horsepower engine. Kevin Walk’s 2012 ZL1 Camaro roars by with a jaw-dropping 580 horsepower.
Both vehicles, and some 400 or so cars in between, were on display Sunday at the 56th annual Easter Concours d’Elegance in Forest Park, sponsored by the Horseless Carriage Club of Missouri. Bookended by rain showers, the event drew crowds of auto fans who came to inspect, admire and crave.
The show was for cars that meet the definition of an antique, 25 years or older. One exception this year was made for the Camaro, the iconic muscle car that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
That’s how Walk’s ZL1 came to be at the show, where it drew considerable attention for its feline styling and raw power. Walk, of Belleville, said he once took it to a drag strip and covered a quarter mile in 12.20 seconds — a speed of 119 mph.
Not far away, Gene Dressel of Jonesburg, Mo., pointed to his 1926 Model T Runabout and said, “I’ve clocked this one at 36 mph,” adding that it was going downhill at the time.
Not only was the car one of several Model T’s at the show, it’s one of two that Dressel owns. “I’m restoring another one, so I bought this one to drive while I’m restoring the other one,” he said.
Among the spectators, Tom Middendorf of South County isn’t just a car buff, he is a lifelong mechanic.
“I appreciate an old car,” he said, adding that he’d worked on many of the models that were on display at the show. He is a fan of muscle cars, he said, of which there were plenty.
Cory Goettsch of Bridgeton brought one, a cherry-red 1967 Pontiac GTO convertible with white interior that drew many admirers. He displayed it with a pair of drive-in theater speakers that he’d rigged to play appropriate songs from the era such as the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” and the Beach Boys’ “California Girls.”
Brothers James, Danny and Will Baur come every year. Among them, they own a number of classic muscle cars. They have shown some of their cars in the past, but did not bring a car this year because, Will Baur said, “they’re all broken now.”
All of them?
“If you have an old car like this and you drive them all the time, they’ll break. They’re no fun to just look at,” he said.
Chris Richter paused while admiring a 1935 Buick Imperial to say she was glad to see the diversity of cars represented at the event.
“I like cars that are unusual, that you don’t see all the time. … Sometimes it’s the same vehicles over and over. It’s nice to see something different,” she said.
How different? There was a 1973 Gremlin — not a typical car-show car — a handful of firetrucks and some Army vehicles. There were two hearses, including a 1992 Cadillac with decals on the sides, a casket in the back (presumably empty, but no one seemed to want to check) and “Go Trump” written on the rear window in masking tape.
A 1975 Bricklin — one of fewer than 2,900 cars ever made by the short-lived Canadian company — still looked futuristic with its gull-wing doors. Even more timeless was a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom 1. The Rolls was featured on the event’s official publicity poster.
Each car had its own story, and so did each owner. Bob Brasses of Fenton was showing a sleek 1955 Buick Special, which he has taken around much of the country including the top of Pike’s Peak, 14,110 feet above sea level (“it passed a lot of newer cars on the way up,” he said).
The car is the same model and even color, Dover White, as the car his grandfather had when Brasses was growing up.
“There are very few things you can sit in that take you back to being 6 years old,” he said.