People watching at the Mecum Spring Classic
Late in the afternoon it began to rain, hard. I was spent after eight hours on my feet photographing the cars at the 2013 Mecum Spring Classic, but I didn’t want to walk a quarter of a mile in a downpour to get to my car. So I made one more pass through the giant West Pavilion to see if I had overlooked anything.
I had. I was so focused on the cars that I didn’t really see everyone else looking at them. So I got my camera back out and began to photograph people.
The joint was crawling with men middle-aged and older. The women and younger men I saw either came with a car-crazy man, or worked for Mecum or for the fairgrounds.
We dreamed of cars like these when we were young. I overheard many of these men telling tall tales about the car they owned, or a car like the one before them that a friend owned, or the car they settled for because they could afford it.
You’d think that these cars would make us all feel young and lighthearted again, yet so many brows were furrowed and lips were pursed or downturned. Encounters with valuable cars like these are rare, and when they do happen it’s usually at a distance in a museum. Yet here we were, so close to these cars we could reach right out and touch them.
Not that we should touch them, of course. They belong to other people and represent very large investments. Still, I saw men casually resting against these cars. A few even opened doors, and I saw one man get in a car and sit behind the wheel! I wanted to tell them all off. They had no business unless they owned the car or were bidding on it.
Those hoping to buy hung their bidder numbers off their necks with lanyards. They had deep pockets in common; these cars start at about $20,000, many go for more than $100,000, and a few go for upwards of a million dollars. Many of the bidders were gregarious and spoke to me about the cars we looked at, while others moved silently about the cars, lost deep in thought.
But most of us just came to see what we could see. The Mecum Spring Classic focuses on muscle cars from the ’60s and early ’70s, but it a real smorgasbord. The abundant variety of cars seemed endless.