Summertime here on Vancouver Island always means the car shows are going full-tilt. This is an awesome way to spend an afternoon seeing cars you just wouldn’t normally have a chance to see, and to talk to folks who love them. Mrs. Toad and I visited The Motorcar Gathering 2012 held at Queen Alexandra Hospital in the summer of 2012, and we were delighted to come away with a great series of shots we’ve been sharing here on our blog. Today’s post features a set of hot rods sitting pristine under the beautiful trees in a park-like setting as we continue our photoblog series “The Toads At The Gathering“.
These early generation hot rods are always a crowd-pleaser. The lines are crisp and full of great character, and those lucky enough to own them have typically invested a lot to get them to this condition. The rumble of the V8 under the hood is completely unmistakable and for some of us big-time hot rod fans, can result in whiplash as you whisk your head around trying to locate the source of those dulcet tones that permeate the air. You can ask Mrs. Toad yourself if you don’t believe me; I have a special neck-brace I keep handy for the summer months just for this reason.
This particular car was really second-to-none. The paint was so deep you could shave in its reflection, and the chrome was perfect. Our visit last year found us under grey skies, but this didn’t do a thing to dampen the way the car glistened and reflected light. Even the spoke wheels are really period-correct for hot rods of this vintage, and they add a great touch of elegance to the car.
I believe this is a 1955 Chevy Bel-Air. It’s distinctive grill and bumper combination make it stand-out immediately as one of the cars that carries the moniker “Tri5”, a throwback to the 1955, 1956 and 1957 model years. Most hot rod enthusiasts give the Chevrolet line from this period this nickname, although it’s been widely used for other manufacturers from this time period as well. You can clearly see the transition in car design from the models created in the 40’s and before as the lines become a little softer and cues and styling hints from the jet-age make their way into common car design.
This car was a real show-stopper for me. Simple and clean, yet unmistakably a hot rod, this car would be just as much at home cruising the strip at night as it would be in serving as a chariot to take its happy passengers to a classy night out at a restaurant. And before we turn our gaze onto the next car, let’s take one final look at the grill, bumper and under-the-hood treatment of the chrome here, to really take in how no detail was too small, nothing was left undone, as the owner went through the process of converting this car from a 60 year old motorcar into the epic beauty we see parked here.
This is another wonderful example of the Tri5 era, this one being what I believe is a 1956 Chevrolet Bel-Air. The modifications that people do to these cars sometimes blurs the lines a little, in terms of identifying its proper lineage, but this sure doesn’t preclude the avid car aficionado from stopping dead in their tracks to take in the rich and complimentary beauty of the two-tone paint here. The wheels on this car are certainly of a more modern style, but they are also rather subtle and add such a nice touch to the overall appearance.
Turning another corner we came across this simply incredible car. This is one of those ultra-rare cars, ones that many of us know about but go an entire lifetime without seeing in person. This 1966 Shelby GT-350 Mustang was spot-on perfect, including the blue LeMans stripes that run across it to help set it apart. These Shelby’s were very well-respected in their time, in many cases serving drag race and track race duties right off the showroom floor. These cars were the source of many fables, both today and during the time they dominated the tracks and streets. A well-known story about the Hertz Rental editions of these cars is documented on Wikipedia:
Shelby struck a deal with the Hertz Corporation to produce a special line of G.T. 350s for rent that, after their rental-car lives were finished, were returned to Ford, refurbished, and sold to the public as “GT 350-H” models. Most Hertz cars featured gold LeMans stripes and rocker panel stripes, although a few were white with blue stripes. The first 85 Hertz cars were available with four-speed manual transmissions and Hertz advertised them as “Rent-a-Racer” cars. During rental, these cars were sometimes used as production class cars at SCCA events, and were rumored to have been returned to Hertz with evidence of roll bars being welded in. Hertz ordered the last 800 models with black paint, gold stripes and black interior, as well as automatic transmissions.
When the Hertz cars were returned to Ford to be prepared for sale to the public, the high-performance parts were often “lost” (presumably at the manufacturer) before final sale.
Many stories circulate that say it was these weld marks from the apparent installation of rolls bars that was the key source of the Hertz program’s termination. It should also be noted that the common belief was these cars were very successful on the tracks, even as the ink was drying on the rental agreement. Needless to say, if you get a chance to own or drive in one of these Shelby’s, you’ll want to make sure the seat belts work as this car has no problem in dispatching the miles in a splendiferous fashion.
The rich history and lineage is easily found in the newer generation of hot rods as well. This C6 Corvette convertible drew quite the crowd, and even though it appeared to be relatively stock it still was a hot-spot of activity. The basic concepts and premises have all remained true over the years as is evidenced by the carry-overs from the older generations, only a level of refinement has taken place. This really allows the car enthusiast to take in a vast variety of designs and concepts, and enjoy them all.
No matter what your particular level of interest is, car shows make for terrific places to visit and spend an afternoon getting to know some really unique cars and the wonderful people who own and love them.
And in the meantime, I’ve got to go and check out that wicked 340 Duster in the background there… thanks for popping by today! Please do feel free to leave us any comments you may have as we really love to hear from all our visitors.