Thursday, July 26, 2012

In My Tribe

Just got back a week ago from my annual pilgrimage to West Coast Meet. It has been twenty two years since my first one and while I have not been able to attend every one, it was my seventeenth time at the show. It's more than the largest gay and lesbian car show on the planet, it is the annual meeting of my tribe and where ever I am, I prefer to be here on this particular weekend. Whether I arrive in a classic, a modern car, or an ambulance, it's all okay once I roll under the Porte' Cochere. 

The West Coast Meet, technically a meetup between the Great Autos of Yesteryear and the Freewheelers of San Francisco began as the "North-South Meet" in Cambria in 1985 and was officially renamed "West Coast Meet" in 1997. It quickly outgrew Cambria and moved to San Luis Obispo in 1988 where, with only a couple of exceptions, it has remained ever since.

The event itself doesn't vary dramatically from year to year. We've had a cornucopia of themes, ranging from Autorama Tropicana to Camp Dipstick, taken a CARnival Cruise, Returned to Dodge City, flown Rocket 88 to Outer Space, celebrated Christmas in July and turned the resort into the unforgettable Disco Obispo

We've had high school reunions and Surfin' Safaris and the Texas State Fair. We've joined the circus, gone Back to the 80's, spent a weekend at the Motorama and what happened in Obispo, stayed in Obispo. This year we celebrated the personal luxury car on the fashionble Cote d'Obispo.  It was a Haute Mess, let me tell you. 

It's just my favorite weekend of the year. The welcoming party, the drive tour, the cocktail hours, the ginormous car show, the once a year chance to be with my tribe of LGBT gearheads and celebrate the automobile as only we know how to do. The hair is a bit grayer these days (when present) and the mid sections a bit larger, but it's a very grand reunion. 

And we're not alone. There are poignant reminders of those who once celebrated with us but are no longer present- at least in the physical world. "Did that car used to belong to..." We open our photo albums from years gone by and see so many familiar faces. Do they come back for West Coast Meet as faithfully as we do? I cannot help but wonder. 

As long as I am able, I'll be in San Luis Obispo on the second Saturday in July. It's my tribe, nothing less. And there's no better way to share it then just let the pictures speak for themselves. Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you enjoy your visit to West Coast Meet 2012:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Photos of the Week- Robot Invaders ,Tailpike Cruiser, and Marilyn

 Lots of activity on photos this week - statistics tell me that viewership was up 76.26 per cent so hopefully that means that folks are enjoying the site. I'm going inverse with the top three photos this week. In third place is "Robot Invaders" which I took personally. It's a detail shot of the nested antennae and overhead ventilation system of the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, and it was our third most popular photo this week.

 In second place, a historic photo of a bikini clad Marilyn Monroe and a privately licensed 1950 Pontiac Chieftain Club Coupe with whitewalls, deluxe wheel covers and whitewall tires. It's a charming bit of cheesecake I've nicknamed "Happy Birthday Mister Pontiac."

And our top photo of the week, again my own shot, shows off the dramatic tail of an impeccably restored 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Coupe. It's a wild car from any angle, but this picture accentuates the disappearing breezeway rear window, rear stand up ornament, and wild fins with anodized appliques. I call it "Tailpike Cruiser" and it is our Photo of the Week.

Be sure and drop by the Palm Springs Automobilist Facebook Page for daily photo updates and smart banter with knowledgeable car people just like yourself. It's more fun than Merc-O-Matic.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


A footnote in the 1949 Cadillac story that has risen to legend. The big news for Cadillac in 1949 was the OHV V8 engine, but that didn't show on the exterior at all. And the 1948 color palate, although tasteful and refined, didn't offer any hues to set off a sporty new convertible. They needed an exciting color for the brochure to give the car a rakish flair.

Enter color 21- Chartreuse. A real, lush chartreuse hue- that wonderful detente between yellow and green with the fabulous French name that ladies loved to say- "Chartrooooooooose"- released for 1949 as a limited production, convertible-only offering.  It was done to grab attention, and that it certainly did. Rendered in the brochure with red leather, it was also offered with black. Only about a hundred are believed to have been produced. 

So imagine my excitement at West Coast Meet when, out of the corner of my eye- I catch a glimpse of Chartreuse on a Cadillac convertible. A spectacularly nice restoration, no less. And when I checked the data tag- color code 21 and body number 88- a real factory Chartreuse 1949 convertible. 

I've always thought that Chartreuse was THE color of the postwar era- one that betrayed sophistication and flair at the same time, and went on to sweep the world of ceramics and interior decor for over a decade. There were few homes in the fifties unscathed by the hue.

Chartreuse- it's not just a color, it's a lifestyle!