Sunday, September 22, 2013

The 2013 Orphan Car Show - Ypsilanti, Michigan

And now for something completely the same. More pictures of old cars!

Today's installment is from today's Orphan Car Show in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Orphan Car Show is sponsored by the Ypsilanti Auto Heritage Museum and features cars from makes that are no longer sold in the United States. They also have some sort of an age limit (pre-1964, I believe) for some of our most recent additions to the automotive make dustbin of history -- Pontiac, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, etc. -- so as to keep the focus on the truly historic orphaned makes.

And so, let's go find some cars from the dustbin of automotive history.

Where should we look for the event? Oh, here's an ancient DeSoto parked on the street. We must be close!

Here in the "Unrestored" class we have a 1923 Willis-Knight 64-Roadster.  I'd call this an "Extremely Unrestored" entry.

Another "Extremely Unrestored" competitor: a 1928 Willis-Knight 66A Coupe.  Believe it or, these oldsters were still running well enough to take a parade lap.

Now this little fellow looks familiar! If you thought you saw it among the "Battle of the Brits" photos, you're right. This is Jim and Marcia Smithbauer's 1979 MGB roadster, with the top up today because it was raining on them a bit when they took it on Saturday's "Orphan Cruise." I walked around much of the show with Jim.  He was as surprised as anybody to have been selected for the "Unrestored" class. When he arrived in the morning he went over and parked with the other British orphans.  But their MG's original condition merited the bump to this feature class.  The promotion was well merited. That's pretty amazing yellow paint for a 34-year-old car!

1961 Corvair Sportswagon Greenbrier Camper Van. This is quite probably the only original Sportswagon Camper left from 1961 the first year for the Corvair Camper. Later models had a pop top.

More extremely unrestored entrants: a 1918 Studebaker SH Touring Car (left) and a 1919 Studebaker Light Four (right).

A pair of wee little 1942 Crosley Liberty Sedans.

No, it's not a doorstop. It's a 1975 Sebring Citicar Vanguard Wedge.

Look, it's a 1979 Checker Cab! If it comes with Marilu Henner inside I'm buying it!

And now we visit a few favorites from the late, lamented American Motor Corporation.

1976 AMC Pacer.

1973 AMC Gremlin

Our final entry from AMC-land is this 1966 AMC Marlin two-door coupe.  Not only are they cool-looking cars with wild interiors, but they have two of my all-time favorite automotive ornaments on the hood and the tail.  

Next, how about some Corvairs? "But, John," you say. "I thought this was for 'orphan' makes of cars. Weren't Corvairs made by Chevrolet?"

Hush. Don't ask too many nosy questions.

Yes, Corvairs were made by Chevrolet and they were never an independent make. But they were also built in Ypsilanti. So the Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show should darn well have some Corvairs. Plus, they're really cool and differently built than all of the other Chevies of their day. They were modeled after Volkswagons with a rear air-cooled engine and the trunk is in the front.

This is a Corvair Rampside pickup. Remember the bit about Corvairs having air-cooled engines in the rear? Yeah, it's the same with this one. So it's not quite a regular pickup since the rear bed isn't flat; it has a little bench in the far back atop the engine. Nonetheless, they managed to sell 17,786 of them in their four years of manufacture. The owner estimates there are only about a hundred or so left in good condition.

1958 BMW Isetta 300.  Yeah ... yeah, I know. BWM still sells lots and lots of cars in the states. First the Chevy Corvairs snuck into the show, and now a BWM?!

What can I say? Isettas are cool and, um ... well, I don't think they sell any more BMWs whose one door is also the front of the car.  That's good enough to qualify it for the show in my book.

1963 Ghia 1500 GT Coupe. I don't recall ever having seen one before, but it was a great-looking sports car.

DeSotos as far as the eye can see!

Now the British orphans:

A 1976 MGB and a line of Triumphs.

An Austin-Healey 3000, the "Big Healey."

Ahhh, you thought I snuck a photo of my MGB in here, didn't you? But this is actually somebody else's black MGB, a 1978 roadster.

1959 Ford Anglia Sedan.

1959 Edsel Villager Station Wagon. This was a great land yacht.

1957 Imperial Crown Sedan. This was one of my favorite cars in the entire show. It only has 13,500 total miles on it, and when it started up to go on parade its 392-cc, 325-hp engine was just a silent purr.

1947 Desoto Custom Convertible. On a field full of chrome, this Desoto's grill still stood out.

Speaking of Desotos, I love the wide-awake face on this 1957 Desoto Firedome 4-Door Hardtop.

1922 R & V Knight R.

1926 Willis Knight 66 (left) and 1928 Falcoln-Knight 12 (right).

The Willis Knight's radiator cap is among my favorites...

... though the Falcoln Knight makes a strong case of its own.

1933 Willys Overland 6-90A Roadster.

1910 Hupmobile 20 Runabout.

1912 EMF 30 Pony Tonneau. I have no idea who EMF was or where they went. But I can tell you they made at least one great-looking car.

1935 LaSalle 5067 Roadster.

This 1928 Marmon Wasp raced in the Indianapolis 500.

I can't help but love them. Cords! A 1937 Cord 812 on the left and a 1937 Cord Supercharged Phaeton on the right.

A 1929 Auburn Boat Tail Speedster. Even on this field full of beauties this might have been the belle of the ball.

How about a couple of Pontiacs on parade?

Here's a Pontiac Star Chief motoring alongside the river, following behind...

... this swoopy Pontiac "Super Stream".

Alas that my camera chip ran out of space right as I reached the Studebakers. Frankly, it probably saved you all from looking at 48 photos of bullet noses, so it may be for the best. But since I only have one Studebaker photo, please be sure to enjoy the nose on this 1950 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe. It certainly looks as if it's enjoying itself!

And we close our tour of the Orphan Car Show appropriately enough with an orphan's orphan: this 1938 Hudson Terraplane Deluxe. Keen readers of my Concours posts may recall that Essex was the 3rd-best selling brand in America in the late 1920s, but by the early 30s it had dwindled to a single model, the Terraplane, which was then subsumed by Hudson as Essex was phased out entirely.

And so it goes.

Thanks for touring the Orphan cars with me. I had a great time walking around the show, so I hope you enjoyed your virtual tour.


  1. Fantastic recap John! It makes me feel like I was there!
    -Jim Smithbauer

  2. No Avantis? Were they with the Studebakers when your memory ran out or are they banned because Avanti owners have their own show?

  3. Good thing your camera chip filled up because let me just say, that bullet nosed Studebaker is downright, well, not attractive. Even that funny, yellow wedge car from the 1970s is more attractive and, well, that is saying a lot!

  4. Lots and lots of Avantis. Alas, no pictures of Avantis.