A long ago car show

On a mid-September Saturday in 2007, my longtime friend Brian and I documented all of the old alignments of US 31 we could find in northern Indiana. When we reached the town of Peru, we found the highway closed through the heart of town for a car show.

Miami County Courthouse

This is one of the reasons why I love to take road trips — you never know what you’ll encounter!

Brian knows I love old cars, so he patiently let me walk among these and photograph them. This little Nash is heavily customized.

Car show

I’m pretty sure this is a 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster.

Car show

This 1960s Chevy truck was heavily customized. I liked its front end, so I squatted for a close photo. I make a cameo appearance in the bumper.

Car show

This boy from South Bend always stops to look at a Studebaker.

Car show

A Chevy Nova SS. It’s likely this didn’t roll off the assembly line as an SS — most Novas were what we used to call “grocery getters,” with boring sixes under the hood.

Car show

My favorite car of the day was this 1966 Plymouth VIP. Ford luxed up the Galaxie to make the LTD, and Chevy the Impala to make the Caprice. Plymouth put fake wood trim and upgraded seats into its Fury, and called it the VIP.

Car show

This one looks to have been modified some. The fake wood is missing, and the door cards don’t look stock to me. But whatever; it’s lovely and I lingered over it.

Car show

As I prepared to take the shot below, a fellow tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I’ll have to charge you a quarter for each picture.” He owned the Plymouth. When I told him I had recently seen an old television ad for the VIP on one of the online video sites, he lit up for a moment. He told me that there was precious little information available about the VIP, which didn’t sell very well. He said he had had a difficult time finding trim parts for the car, and pointed out a few places where he had to use slightly scuffed chrome or parts that didn’t fit together just right because that’s what was available.

Car show

This blog was about six months old when I found these cars. I wrote about this Plymouth then; read about it here.

My camera’s battery died while shooting the Plymouth, which brought me out of my old-car delirium to notice that Brian was standing politely on the curb, ready to move along. Even though there were more cars to see, we headed back to my car to continue our trip. I fished my spare battery out of a cup holder, put it in the camera, and we were on our way.

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15 responses to “A long ago car show”

  1. J P Avatar

    As a former 1966 Plymouth owner, I approve this post. Fury III sedans like mine were relatively common, at least by Plymouth standards. But seeing a VIP was a rarity.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I knew of the LTD and Caprice, of course, since early childhood. But I had never heard of the VIP until I came across that old ad on the Internet as an adult.

  2. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    Boy, I remember the Chevy Nova. Very distinctive, faintly comical look about it. Still astonishes me anyone even suggested branding a car “SS”, let alone that that flew with the board. :D A boring six! Imagine if you could go back in time and tell them only speed demons buy sixes in the 21st century. Do we make V8 engines anymore? Yeah, what a show. :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, sixes were widely considered gutless engines back in the day!

  3. brandib1977 Avatar

    What a fantastic walk down memory lane! I’m hoping to hit up a car show this weekend and this has made me really excited to go!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I love it when I come upon something like this not knowing it’s going to happen!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Yes!! This is the kind of thing us road trippers live for!

  4. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I love the serendipitous “found” event! You never know what you’ll find when you just get out and drive.

    Plus one for the 1966 Plymouth Fury. One of the two cars I learned to drive on was my Dad’s 1966 Plymouth Fury I, company car. I always thought the body style was so hip! He had the “bullet proof” slant-six, of course. Speaking of “hip”, the new young, kid oriented priest the church assigned to our parish, came compete with his own 1966 Plymouth Fury III convertible! A car that looked so perfect I remember thinking that it had been designed to look better without a top than with one!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The Fury I would have been a very basic car, especially compared to the III convertible!

  5. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    The good news/bad news about the big Chrysler products is that they aren’t sought after by collectors the way the muscle cars are. So the cost of entry is still pretty reasonable, but on the other hand there is much less aftermarket support.

    Mechanical parts aren’t bad, because they shared much across the different car lines and in some cases used the same parts for literally decades, but sheet metal and trim just isn’t reproduced, so sometimes creativity is necessary.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The fellow who owned the VIP told me much the same. He did the best he could with the body restoration but had to improvise in some places.

  6. Daniel Brinneman Avatar

    How do you remember all those details from long ago?! I suppose you write a daily journal. Nice cars especially when in Indiana.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I copied whole paragraphs from here: http://jimgrey.net/Roads/US31NorthernIndiana/09_Mexico_Peru.htm

      This is a long ago road trip report from my old site that I moved over here!

  7. M.B. Henry Avatar

    While I’ve never got into cars as much as planes, I can say there was a very nice car show they had every Friday night in Burbank during the summer. I stopped by a couple times and always enjoyed myself! Wonderful pictures

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I love a good car show! I hope to get to a couple this summer.

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