Children and adults were both pleased to look over Gary Tischer's 1964 Pontiac GTO, complete with tri-power carburetion and a 389 cubic-inch V8, backed up by a four-speed manual transmission. Tischer brought it up from Renton, Washington for the Greenwood Car Show in Seattle. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst, subject to copyright)
This year saw the 10th staging of the Kirkland Concours d’Elegance. It was held down in Tacoma, Washington, about 40 miles south of Kirkland, on September ninth. If you don’t understand how that works I can’t tell you, but having grown up in Tacoma, I know one thing: Tacoma is very different from Kirkland. Tacoma used to be primarily known for a smelter plant whose smell permeated the city all the way to the freeway. Kirkland, on the other hand, has been called the “Rodeo Drive of the North.”
The LeMay auto museum, which bills itself as “America’s Car Museum,” has been a sponsor from the get-go of the Kirkland concours; so this year the people who run the museum, decided it wouldn’t matter if the concours wasn’t staged in the city of Kirkland. They felt they owned the concept. Nonetheless, the location name of the concours remains the same.
Compare that to the Greenwood district in Seattle, which held its 20th anniversary show this past June, right where it started – in Greenwood – on the same day: last Saturday of the month. Consistency has value, even with car shows. Call that lesson number one.
It’s a low key affair. You wouldn’t see anyone cleaning their exhaust pipes with a toothbrush at Greenwood. The show is staged along Greenwood Avenue North, for a distance of mile-and-a-half. This year, the owners of about 650 cars and trucks participated and an estimated 50,000 spectators ambled through. Looking was free, but entering a vehicle was not. People drive their cars there, even when that car is a 1913 Cadillac.
Harold Musolf, a machinist who makes restoration parts for REO autos – what Ransom Eli Olds started his legacy with in the auto business – drove one of two 1913 Cadillacs he owns, to Greenwood from the nearby Ballard neighborhood.
Musolf also has a 1906 Losier, an auto of which he said, “You have to make everything for that.” The Cadillac, on the other hand, “is what I’d call a popular car; we put 1,000 miles a year on it.”
Part of those miles is due from trips to downtown Seattle, to pick up his wife, Gayle; after she gets off work. Musolf’s grandfather bought the Cadillac on display from a wrecking yard, up in Bellingham, Washington, back in 1957; then, in 1997, Musolf obtained it from his granddad, which had never restored it. The engine still has its original Babbitt bearings, he said. He changed the pistons out from 8 pound aluminum to 31 pound steel molybdenum; made the pistons from those in a Ford 460 cubic-inch engine. The Caddy’s engine measures 367.7 cubic inches and produces 48.8 horsepower.
Not far from the antique Cadillac, was a car that might not make it into a concours, but brought back a lot of memories for those who remember the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) sport sedan and coupe wars of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s: a 1968 Opel Cadet Rallye (sic) coupe. Troy Moore had brought it down by Lynnwood, Washington. He said, “I’ve owned it two-and-a-half years. It sold (to me) in Wenatchee, and I bought it off of Craig’s List. The only rust left is on the bottom of the left side’s rocker panel and inside the right wheel-well.”
Resplendent in orange with black accents, and shod with aftermarket chrome wheels, you’d be hard-pressed to notice anything out of whack, if it hadn’t been pointed out to you. Recarro seats and a four-speed manual transmission added to its allure.
What’s really been the drawing card for the Greenwood show, the past few years is the diversity of vehicles. Last year’s show held some vintage Datsun trucks and this year’s show held those and one more, a bright green 1964 Datsun L320; powered with a 1200 cubic-centimeter in-line four cylinder engine, putting out 60 horsepower. Something it shared with antique cars: it could be started by hand cranking, if need be.
Jerry Barkley, owner of Crown Hill Automotive, showed his own car, a well-restored 1937 Ford. Barkley became active in the show, in 2009, after two successive years that had different public relations professionals running the show.
After 2008, the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce bailed out, when monies disappeared to places no one knew. That led to the formation of the Greenwood Knights Car Club, of which Barkley became a member. The show became a fund-raiser for local charities; and last year, the show raised $13,000 for the local food bank and others. While spectators can roam the show for free, there's a fee to enter a vehicle and business sponsorship.
The concours in Tacoma is also a fund raiser, mainly for Children’s Hospital in Seattle. It’s raised about $1.5 million dollars since its inception in Kirkland, back in 2003. While the concours has business sponsors - a bank was the main sponsor this year - adult spectators had to pay $25 to view the vehicles up close; that fee included admission to the LeMay - ACM this year. (Teenagers paid less and children under seven could see it all for free.)
Unfortunately, an invitation to attend the concours came my way, too late. So I can’t say with any authority how well things went, with the change in venue. It should help the concours, to be on the grounds next to one of the world’s largest auto museums. But it still seems that a name change would be a good idea, to indicate a new location. After all, if the Greenwood Car Show moved out of Seattle, would they still call it the Greenwood Car Show? -- Terry Parkhurst