June marks the official start of summer, so it’s no surprise the month is also one of the busiest in terms of the sheer number of car shows. From local cruise-ins to national meets, June always has more than enough to keep even the most finicky auto enthusiast entertained. Check out just a few of the events from this past month, each of which found the Historic Vehicle Association in attendance and handing out awards.
Sloan Museum Auto Fair
The Sloan Museum Auto Fair always features more than its fair share of fascinating cars. This year proved no exception with the 1954 GM Firebird I prototype making an appearance. Currently housed within the GM Heritage Center, this jet-age prototype still manages to turn heads with its unique styling, gas turbine engine and impressive stance—all which made it a deserving winner of the HVA’s THIS CAR MATTERS Award.
Carlisle GM Nationals
Whether you’re a Ford or GM guy or gal, the parade of regular events in and around Carlisle, Pennsylvania, never disappoints. One of the region’s many popular car events is definitely the GM Nationals—a haven for muscle car enthusiasts—which last month saw this impressive 1970 Olds Vista Cruiser “Wonder Wagon” taking home our THIS CAR MATTERS Award.
An experimental car that Olds commissioned Hurst to build for them, the Wonder Wagon was used to test consumer interest in buying a high-performance station wagon. Hurst wound up pulling six 455-equipped Vista Cruisers from the assembly line and converted them to W30 specifications (rear gears, suspension, etc.). The cars were used as magazine test vehicles. This particular vehicle also came equipped with the W25 hood stripe/scoop package as part of Hurst’s conversion. The cars were drag-raced, run around a track and generally pushed to the limit of what a station wagon was expected to handle. Of the six cars made, only two are known to survive.
Carlisle Ford Nationals
Ford fans had their chance to check out a stunning array of cars and trucks during the Ford Nationals. Among those on display was “Big Oly,” a custom built, tube-framed Bronco built by Bill Stroppe and Dick Russell expressly for desert racing. In 1971 and ’72, Parnelli Jones (driver) and Bill Stroppe (co-driver) took back-to-back victories at the Baja 1000 races, marking the first time this had ever been done. In 1973, “Big Oly” won both the Baja 500 and Sprint 500, further sealing its reputation as one of the most iconic and significant off-road racers that isn’t a Manx. Given its impressive history, Big Oly, still owned by Johnes, proved a fitting recipient of the HVA’s THIS CAR MATTERS Award and we were pleased to be able to present it to Bill Stroppe’s son, Willie.
Further east, this year’s Greenwich Concours weekend saw a number of impressive vehicles gather under the Connecticut sunshine. With so many to choose from, it was impossible to stick with just one THIS CAR MATTERS Award. So we gave out two:
The first went to Brock and Pam Yates’ Cofton Owens-prepped “Cannonball (Baker) Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash” Dodge Challenger. Given its pedigree and history, the car proved a worthy winner and reminder of an exceptional time in American automotive history.
The second went to this 1949 Allard J2 Prototype Competition Roadster. Originally delivered to future engineering superstar Zora Arkus-Duntov in New York, the car was given an overhead-valve conversion and entered in the 1949 Watkins Glen road race held in upstate New York in the Finger Lakes Region.
Ault Park Concours
What can be said about a Duesenberg that hasn’t already been said? Indeed, “it’s a Duesey” remains a fitting expression, words that could easily be applied in both the literal and figurative sense to this stunning, show-stopping 1931 Duesenberg LWB Willoughby Limousine that took home the HVA/FIVA Preservation Award at this year’s event.
Out in California, the San Marino Concours played host to this historically significant 1960 Cunningham Corvette. Why you wonder? Enter noted race car enthusiast Bruce Meyer who owned the car, one of a trio of Corvettes that competed at Le Mans in 1960. This particular car was raced by Briggs Cunningham to a class win and 8th position overall at the 1960 race. Restored to its original condition, the vehicle is a fascinating example of the glory days of international racing.