These are the cars I liked best at the Mecum Spring Classic car auction, in no particular order.
I’m not sure what struck me about this 1970 Pontiac Catalina. Maybe it’s my irrational love of station wagons. Maybe it’s that this one wears its black paint so well. Maybe it’s the “400” badge on the fender – a grocery getter that screams.
Almost every car at the auction had been painstakingly restored; most probably looked better than they did the day they rolled out of the factory. This 1964 Pontiac Catalina Safari wagon was probably the best restoration I saw all day. I’ve never been a big fan of this generation of GM wagons because of the ramrod-straight roofline and the dorky, perfectly rectangular windows on the rear doors. But I felt old-wagon lust building in me as I lingered over this old girl, looking at her every perfect detail.
Now this, my friends, is a limousine. Those ridiculous mile-long Lincolns that ferry teenagers to proms today are an insult to the entire genre. Everything about this 1947 Cadillac oozes class and style, at least in the vernacular of its day.
My dad owned a 1966 Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop, and I’m still drawn to them whenever I see them. This Galaxie 500 XL convertible was the line’s high-water mark in terms of trim and power.
I have loved the step-down Hudsons ever since I saw my first one as a boy. With most cars, I generally favor the two-door over the four-door versions, but with these Hudsons it’s the opposite. I think the big four-door step-down sedans look downright mean, like something a gangster would drive to a massacre. I was so captured by those looks that, in my teenage years when I dabbled with writing some fiction, I wrote a story where my protagonist drove a 1950 Hornet. Even though this 1949 Commodore has only two doors, I count it as a favorite of the day simply because I’ve seen so few Hudsons of this era in the past 20 years.
Finally, check out this 1949 Oldsmobile. I’ve always enjoyed GM’s fastback styling from this era, but I’d only ever seen them in photographs before. I was thrilled to see one up close.
I think getting close to these cars is what I like best about the Mecum Spring Classic. I’ve been to any number of automotive museums, and the cars are always behind chains so you can’t get in close. I loved leaning in a little to look over the interiors and taking my camera to within a few inches of a fender or a hood ornament to get a tight shot. But I never touched the cars; I respected the owners’ investments. A few chowderheads leaned on the cars as they looked, or worse, climbed in and sat down. Can you believe their nerve?
If you haven’t had enough of old cars yet, check out this 1966 Plymouth VIP I encountered a few years ago.