Friday, March 7th, 2008, images from the Eckler’s Corvette Reunion in Celebration, Florida, Friday, March 7, 2008. Corvette show. Click to embiggen.
There’s been some heavy weather down here in Central Florida this week. The playground was under almost a foot of water, but luckily, there is almost always something going on in Celebration, the town Disney created solely for the entertainment of tourists.
However, there are natives who actually live there. I’m a part-time resident, myself. With our regular playground out of commission, my running buddy, Liam, and I checked out the Corvette show this Friday in picturesque Celebration, FL, instead.
Using a cheap Sony Cybershot 3.2, I snapped off about 300 snapshots in less than an hour. We just walked through the show once, and I took pics as the opportunity arose, sometimes one-handed without looking through the viewfinder, leaving plenty space I could crop later. It was practically impossible to keep people out of the shots, but there are some decent images here anyway.
There was the added difficulty of keeping tabs on a wandering 26 month brawler (in no way is he a “toddler”), but he was pretty cooperative most of the time, stayed in proximity and ended up riding in the stroller after getting tired of pushing his truck around. It was pretty windy and a little chilly, but in the canyons of the downtown shops the wind broke and it was a brisk, sunny and pleasant day for the auto show.
Liam has a yellow plastic Hasbro truck he takes everywhere and pushes around. I’ve never regretted remembering to take it nearly everywhere we go. Less prescient parents are sometimes resentful of my foresight when, at a playground or mall play area where their kids can’t seem to know what to do with themselves, they lust after Liam’s truck.
When they had the fake snowfall in Celebration around Christmas, and the kids, 1 to preteen, were milling around and not really knowing how to best use the fake snow other than dragging their feet through it. Liam soon attracted a trail of envious little boys running after him as he tore up the snow pushing his truck.
It is tough as hell. I looked at the Tonkas, remembering how sturdy they were when I was a kid, and to my horror they have razor sharp metal edges on the bed of the dump truck. Were they like that when I was a kid? I can’t believe any parent would let their kid play with one.
Those metal Tonkas seem like a nasty facial scar waiting to happen, because Liam likes to push his around, and he loses footing and falls on top of his all the time. I can’t believe they aren’t deluged with lawsuits and recalls. Anyway, the Hasbro is all soft plastic except the axles and the rod the bed hinges upon, and its survived a lot of abuse and cost like $3 at a yard sale. Woe to the child who attempts to play with it in Liam’s sight, however. At 2 and 2 months, the finer points of sharing are not yet well developed.
The instinct to throw windmill punches, pinch or even bite, unencumbered by impulse control, is alive and well in the little guy. We’re working on teaching him to restrain himself somewhat, but I’m glad to know he won’t put up with being bullied and always stands up for himself, no matter what the odds. You can teach restraint, its hard to teach a cowering, flinching child to stand up for his rights. He rarely attacks first, but he retaliates with a vengeance when hit or imposed upon.
Not that I condone violence or fighting, but there’s nothing wrong with spirit and bravery and a sense of individual rights, even in a 2 year old. But back to the Corvette show…
Although there were hundreds of beautiful cars, the Corvettes didn’t live up to their reputation as being babe magnets: there wasn’t a pretty girl in sight. In fact, collecting and restoring Corvettes seemed to be a hobby mostly practiced by guys in their late 50’s-70’s, and a few of their wives were the only females represented at the show. Unfortunately, the crowds blocking the shots weren’t photogenic as much as portly or wizened.
A lot of these are badly framed, but it was hard to back up far enough to get a good shot, and the diagonal parking also made it hard to get a full-body shot of all the cars. You can get a good idea of the cars represented at the show, but there are few really good definitive shots.
I have no idea of the model years, other than those with pace car paint jobs or other markings, and asking and notating this information would have been too serious an undertaking for what was just a fun outing checking out the cars.
Even though it basically seemed to be a product of male menopause, the show was still pretty neat and there were some amazing old Corvettes from the 50’s and 60’s. As you can see from the pics, the 80’s and 90’s and 00’s are pretty homogeneous and bland. The older models, with lots of chrome and a helluva lot more style were more interesting.
The judges are walking around filling out forms on every car. How the heck you can judge the best out of these is beyond me. All seem mint shape and sparkling, inside and out, within an inch of their lives. If its all stock, clean as a whistle and in great shape, what makes one better than another? I mean, I prefer the older ones or the 70’s Stingrays with the distinctive wasp body, but how the heck do you judge a ’96 vs. a ’58 or a ’79?
Why designers decided putting a huge ass on the Corvette was a smart design move, I have no idea, but then I’m not an engineer, I’m just an student of aesthetic beauty, and I think that’s about the time the Corvette started looking like a dated hulk instead of a slick American muscle car.
Looking at the images you can see, many of the cars are virtual twins, and they seemed to be parked in groups according to years, making the sameness all the more evident. Like pairs of shoes, lined up against one another, the only difference being color.
It seemed like more of a meet than a contest, lots of the guys (it was 95% middle aged men) seemed to know each other and talked shop. I guess its so expensive only older, fairly well-off guys can afford the hobby. From the looks of most of the cars, they probably sat covered up in garages most of the year, only coming out for these meets.
That’s a sad way to enjoy a vintage car, in my opinion. I drove an 1970 MGB convertible for years and I got plenty use out of it, although I always tried to keep it looking good and on the road. Electrical problems are the bugaboo of MGs. It was one of the last years for a chrome bumper and grille, and it was a really sweet looking little car. I did a lot of the restoration work myself and spent thousands more.
I finally let it sit, with a blown engine (not the first, or even the 3rd one of those) in a friendly mechanics shop garage when I decided to get a reliable ride. There is still sits, and I feel a twinge of guilt and regret that I should get it back on the road, periodically, but I never want to invest the money. I’m kind of over that hassle, but I do miss driving around in it.
Driving an MG in Florida with the top down is one of life’s great joys: the interior is fairly indoor-outdoor so if it rains you just try to avoid getting stuck in traffic and its all good. You can also put on the tonneau cover, unzipping only the driver’s side so most of the car stays completely dry, not that its a big deal.
With a peppy little 3 speed, driving that 4 cylinder is almost like driving a go-cart, so close to the ground and rack and pinion steering that is so direct compared to power steering: you turn so, the wheels turn just that much. Plus, when you get on it, that thing MOVES! The center of gravity is so low, the car is so short (less than 12′) and corners so well you just weave in and out of traffic on the interstate effortlessly.
The only real danger is the low profile, you can come from alongside another car and the car in the far lane is surprised to see you: I got clipped like that coming out of a light and a car entering the road waiting for a car to pass, not seeing me hidden behind it.
I had a few semi-close calls, but nothing really alarming. Still, I’m probably better off in the mini-van and I’d never take Liam in the 2 seater. I used to ride around with my Lab, in a harness attached to the seatbelt, though. Girls loved the MGB!
But, life changes. I can’t see riding around with Liam in the passenger in the child seat. Way too dangerous.
Which is another reason these guys are all in their 50’s and up: their kids are long grown and gone. They can afford to be impractical again. Maybe when I’m 56 I’ll dig up my MG and get it on the road again.
Liam perked up at any car that resembled Lightning McQueen, especially the classic white and red scalloped paint job with the big whitewall tires. He also liked the big red trailer that carried some of the cars, which looked a little like Mack, Lightning’s driver. Mostly, like me, he just enjoyed the day out and the crowds and the brisk Florida winter day. Windy enough for light jackets, warm enough for shorts.
Excuse me for saying so, and I don’t mean to offend anyone, but people who live up North are stupid, ignorant, pig-headed jackasses and fools. I say this being a former Ohioan, and don’t give me that crap about the “changing of the seasons” and all that tripe. When you’re a kid, sledding and skating and building snowmen, its great.
As an adult, trudging through slush and dirty snow, alternately sweating and shivering under layers of sweaters, parkas, long underwear, gloves and 2 pairs of socks and snow boots, scraping the ice off your windshield before going to work, snow tires, fuel bills, 4pm dusk, grey depressing days for 6 months: you’re all fools. Luckily, ya’ll are only realizing it slowly and the North isn’t emptying out any faster than 100k or so a month.
Still, the last one out of the Rust Belt, please turn off the lights. Even Yankees can’t stay dumb forever.
I’m sure the gradual evolution of automobiles from chrome bumpers and trim to featureless plastic has a technological reason, but it sure didn’t make cars look more interesting or beautiful. Liam liked the old ones best also, perhaps because he loves the Pixar movie Cars and there are a lot of old models represented there.
Downtown Celebration is a pretty little tourist trap, mostly Brits, Germans and Canucks wandering around making “duh” observations about the town and America. Secure in our native status, Liam and I head for Kilwin’s Ice Cream for a chocolate chocolate chip. We’ll probably pick up some freshly made chocolates for Mom.
My wingman, Liam, and his badass yellow dump truck, “Fruck”