Thursday, May 29, 2014

Texas Tour Coverage

Last weekend, a large fleet of classic cars passed through the hill country as part of the Texas Tour. Sponsored by the Road Relics, the tour takes drivers and their vintage machines through some of the prettiest parts of Texas on some of the most scenic roads around. I got some photos and chatted with some of the owners during their stop in Wimberley, where they held a car show of sorts. I was absolutely blown away by the vehicles on hand. There were some incredibly rare and unique automobiles participating in the tour, and to see them idle in under their own power was memorable, to say the least. Kudos to the drivers for keeping these beautiful machines out on the road, where they belong.

There were a troupe of Model T's involved in the tour, but this 1913 model was one of the oldest. The Model T was a revolutionary vehicle that paved the way for the growth of automobiles, so seeing some of these in motion was wonderful. This car is an open tourer, boasting four doors and a convertible top.

When I saw this pull in, I nearly went into cardiac arrest from shock. This is a museum-worthy automobile that is likely worth a small fortune, and yet here it is driving on public roads and navigating traffic. It's a 1913 Pierce-Arrow Runabout, something I never even knew I wanted to see until I saw it. It's in utterly impeccable condition, which is even more impressive when you think about how long ago this car was built. This is a 101-year-old car. Absolutely amazing.

Also under the "didn't expect to see that" category is this 1915 Hudson. It's a big car, with a minimal amount of gauges and buttons inside. A far cry from today's passenger sedans. The big fenders and lights are almost like caricatures, and the mirror mounted on the spare tires is an odd yet creative feature.

Another early Model T, this one a Speedster. If you want a car that lets you be one with the elements while driving, then this might be the vehicle for you. No windshield and two very simple seats indicate a spartan design philosophy. The red and blue paint job is likely not the car's original look, but I'm certainly not complaining. It's quirky and unique, which fits with the car itself.

The Model TT was a commercial truck version of the original Tin Lizzie. This one is a tanker, and bears a very cool four-door cab. I liked this truck a lot, and it's neat to think how what was once a simple work vehicle is now a show car. It's ruggedly simplistic, an example of how primitive the automobile was in the 1920's.

This colossal blue beast is another Pierce-Arrow, an open tourer. Something about that entirely-blue color scheme is very alluring to me. This classic cruiser wasn't as concours-ready as some of the other vehicles, with its nicked and distressed paintwork, but that just adds character. Quite an impressive automobile.

There were a couple of antique Packards in the tour, but this one was perhaps the most elegant of the lot. It's a 1928 Packard 4-43 Phaeton, and it's a lot of car. That huge hood seems to go on for miles, and the rest of the vehicle is scaled up to match. This car is the result of a meticulous four-year restoration, and the current owner's father bought the car new in 1928. This car is elegant from every angle, and seeing it driving is a satisfying sight.

This 1930 Packard was also present. All of these vintage cars seemed to have unbelievably pretty paint jobs and color combinations, with this one being particularly nice. These old Packards are big cars, but they don't make a sound. Being luxury automobiles, they were built to be virtually silent, and it's almost spooky how such a large and imposing machine can pass by without so much as a whisper of noise.

I'd seen this 1931 Auburn once before a few years back, but it certainly hasn't lost any of its appeal. Auburn is one of my favorite classic car brands. They built a lot of truly stunning automobiles that could compete with the best in the world. They're relatively uncommon now, so I'm always happy to see one, especially one as nice as this.

Not to be outdone by the armada of Model T's, a set of Model A's were part of the tour, with this 1931 pickup being my favorite of the two. That paint job is so vibrant and sunny, and draws your eye from a long ways off. This little pickup is in great shape, and looks like it sees regular use. It was interesting to see both Model T's and Model A's together, to really see how Ford evolved the idea.

Oh my. There comes a point where a car transcends beyond being considered merely transportation, and instead becomes pure sculpture. This Packard is a prime example. It's artwork that can be driven. The vivid colors, the bespoke bodywork, and luxuriant creature comforts combine to form what is likely one of the prettiest vehicles I've ever seen. This was hands-down one of my favorite cars in the show. Simply beyond compare.

This 1934 Lincoln is not something you see everyday. I love seeing these old color combinations. Brown fenders and orange wheels? Absolutely. It's different in such a good way. I like the big rumble seat and the little fender-mounted lights. Cars like this are all about the little details, and there are plenty to admire if you're observant enough to really look.

The Chrysler Airflow was ahead of its time. It was designed with regard to aerodynamics and wind resistance and efficiency, something that has become the standard of automotive design in today's cars. But in 1936, it was just plain odd-looking, and sales were sluggish. Thus, you don't see a whole lot of them around. This one is spotless, and could very well have rolled out of the factory yesterday.

Buick's Roadmaster models are most famous for their 1950's iterations, but the name had already been around for a while at that point. This Roadmaster is a 1938, looking sharp in black. This was not a car for the common man, and Buick made sure that was obvious just by looking at it. I love the design of the headlight pods and the turn signals on the fenders.

This 1939 LaSalle is a very nice car. LaSalle was discontinued after 1940, making this one of the last cars built. It's very elegant and well-upholstered, but that was exactly why they killed the company. Instead of stealing sales from other brands, LaSalle was drawing buyers away from Cadillac, which led to the downfall of the marque. It's too bad, because these were attractive and intriguing vehicles.

Speaking of Cadillac, check out this magnificent 1941 Cadillac convertible. Most Cadillacs sold were sedans, so a convertible like this is a rare sight. This one is in mint condition, and looks gorgeous in black with those red wheels. Quite a car.

It wasn't only American cars in the tour, either. Take a look at this lovely little 1952 MG TD. One of Britain's most iconic sports car manufacturers, MG had a lot of popular models, but the TD is usually considered one of the best. This one is in great shape, and looks like it would be a lot of fun on a nice twisting backroad.

This 1956 Mercury is a wonderful example of 1950's design. It's got points and angles, but also curves and swooping lines. The chrome is awesome and excessive, a distinctly American characteristic. Wonderful.

I have to show off the perfect colors of this 1956 Chrysler Windsor. That coral color is achingly beautiful, and the two-tone paint scheme is ever so classy. The mid-50's Chryslers were very well designed cars, as is evidenced here. Style, luxury, and power were what made these cars so desirable then, and even more so now.

It's hard to find a car more distinctively beautiful than a classic Rolls-Royce, and this Silver Cloud is perfect. The color fits the name, and everything about this car is elegant and delicate. It's pure class and style, a fortress of flowing metal. Rolls-Royce has a vast collection of beautiful cars under their belt, but the Silver Cloud is one of the most perfectly-designed vehicles they've ever produced.

This Austin-Healey was showing signs of age, with a weathered interior and paint that was cracked and pitted, but somehow that only made me like it more. That bright blue is seemingly magnetic, and the chrome sets it off so well. The Austin-Healey 3000 series has long been, in my opinion, one of the prettiest sports cars to come out of Britain. There are plenty of other attractive vehicles, too, like the Lotus Elan or the early MGB models, but this car really gets me.

This Chrysler doesn't look particularly special at first glance. It's a 1963 300K, finished in an unassuming silver with a respectable vinyl top. But take a look at the engine, and suddenly it's no ordinary car. This massive Chrysler is a cross-ram car, a seriously collectible machine in today's market. Not too shabby.

The first-generation Buick Riviera is Bill Mitchell in his finest hour. It was a beautiful design, and is considered one of the most attractive cars ever produced. I prefer the 1965 model, like this one, with its hidden headlights. This car is a Gran Sport model, which is very rare. The Riviera Gran Sport featured the 425-cubic-inch Super Wildcat V8, a heck of a motor. In all black, it's a menacing car. Very, very nice.

Naturally there had to be at least one Mustang, and this 1965 coupe was a very nice example. Black with a 289 V8, it's a simple cruiser that has aged well.

Similarly, there had to be a few Corvettes in the show, and of the three or four I saw, this one was the nicest by far. It's a 1966 Sting Ray with the 427 Turbo-Jet V8. It looks all original and sounds fantastic. The C2 Corvette is a beautiful car, and this one has all the right options.

One of two '66 Thunderbirds in the tour, this landau coupe is incredible. Even the original wheel covers are intact. The color is ever so nice, and the dark-colored roof balances it out nicely. Somebody has put a lot of time into preserving this car, and quite frankly they deserve a medal.

Muscle car aficionados crowded around this 1968 Pontiac GTO convertible. A red GTO is a sure way to get some attention, and for good reason. This was one of the best-looking bodystyles for the Goat, and in red it really comes into its own. Plus, hood tachs are just plain cool.

And then there's this. A 1970 Buick GS 455 convertible. In the muscle car wars, everybody remembers the Hemi-powered Mopars and the SS Chevrolets, but look through some old magazine tests and you'll find that the quickest muscle cars in the quarter-mile were Buicks, namely the 455-powered cars like this. While the lovely red convertible above doesn't have the venerable Stage 1 package, it's still no slouch in a straight line. On top of that, it's a very attractive car, one of my personal favorites.

This 1973 Charger stood out mostly due to how basic it is. It's not an R/T or a Super Bee or anything of that nature, but instead a plain-jane entry-level example. The dog-dish hubcaps and vinyl top are very 1970's, and make this Mopar a time capsule of sorts.

I've wanted to see one of these for a long time. In 1979, this was the fastest production vehicle in America. Yes, a bright red pickup with chrome stacks was the fastest American car money could buy. Called the Li'l Red Express, this Dodge took advantage of a loophole in the emissions regulations, and therefore was a serious performance truck. I love it, and find it to be just ridiculous enough to be cool.

Lastly, this 1981 Delorean was all kinds of cool. The owner had put some work into it, including some neat custom touches. The LED strip below the bumper can imitate police lights, among other patterns. The coolest touch, however, are the doors, which can be opened remotely via the key fob. Seeing a gullwing door open itself is a sort of captivating and grin-inducing experience. I like these cars, dismal PRV V6 aside, and always enjoy seeing them. It's a stainless-steel sports car, how can you not love it?

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