Other than the paint, I did everything for my 57 Metropolitan in my driveway. I did my best, had some friends critique it a bit, and I showed it at Hershey in 1997. This was the first time I had shown a car at Hershey and after parking my trailer and unloading, I was able to find my place in the show at class 27B, Production Vehicles, 56 and 57, except Chevy. Those were the days of pavement parking spots with no room to open the doors or walk around the car. Because I was on a bit of a slope, I pulled my parking brake lever back from its usual spot up under the dash, something I almost never do. Being my first show, I did not take much time to look around but rather kept at my car, doing my best to clean it up from the ride on my open trailer and make it presentable. The judges came around and looked at the car, pointed at things and then joked about something and looked at each other’s clipboards. As they were walking away, one of the judges whimsically commented, “The least you could have done was paint your emergency brake button.” The light had changed and the sun now lit up the crusty plastic that was the brake release button, hidden until then up under the dash. I went for a walk, looked at some cars, loaded back onto my trailer and went home to wait for about two weeks for the results to be available. They had given awards on Saturday night, but they could not tell me for two weeks. Finally, I got the word, they gave my car a First Junior. I did not appreciate where I was parked that day.
The next stop was Salisbury where I noticed that people were not bringing show cars on open trailers. As I was unloading, the fellow next to me commented that when I was done I could use the sink in the front of his car trailer to clean up. As I walked around, I noticed that some of these cars were pretty nice. No Senior tab for me at this show.
In 98 I got my Senior tab in Buffalo. My first try at a First Grand National was Montoursville in 2000. It was raining a little and I helped the guy next to me with the plastic drop cloth he was using to keep the rain off the new top of his Chrysler. It’s a bit of a blur to me now, but I think this car took the trophy for best car shown at an AACA meet in 2000. And there it was, right next to me in 27B. No trophy for me. I was starting to understand.
It was about 1000 miles to Moline. Still up on an open trailer, we got lost stopping to see friends on the way out and ended up on a dirt road with rocks and dust. My friend helped clean it up a bit and we went on to a great show. The boat tour was fun and the tractors were green and my second Second Place plaque is still on my trophy wall. It’s been said that once you are beaten by a car in AACA, you usually do not compete with it again. Right, but these guys kept bringing back new cars. And what beauties they were. It was here that I noticed the big car carrier unloading all those trailer queens with Montana plates.
The Grand National Show in New Bern in 2002 was nice. So were the cars. I think it was here that I asked the nice man in the straw hat if he had one of every 56 model ever made. He calmly replied, “No, only the convertibles.” My third Second Place trophy has a picture with it of pink and white 56 Chrysler that was with us that day. What a car! In this one class, 27B, there’s a guy with one of each, someone that brings a best of show car every year, one person bringing a trailer load of perfect cars and the 57 Met done in the shade of my driveway.
After three Second Place trophies, I got a First Grand National in Buffalo in 2004. In 2007 it went to Kalamazoo and brought home a Grand National Senior trophy. With the judging phase of this car over, I enjoy going to the shows, taking my spot in 27B and just admiring the other cars. In class 27D, my 60 Met convertible cruised through the judging and got it’s Grand National Senior in about five shows. Today I got a letter telling me that my Mets have been reclassified as Class 04B, a new class for small cars. There been times I did not think I belonged in class 27B but I enjoyed the competition and never once felt cheated when I did not get the prize I was competing for. I look forward to being able to take a closer look at a different set of cars, but I will be sure to walk over to class 27B to see the prettiest cars shown at an AACA meet.