Dispatch from the Culver City Car Show

Dispatch from the Culver City Car Show : Perspectives from an Automotive Neophyte

By Heather Thompson


Downtown Culver City, CA

On Culver & Washington between Duquesne & Ince | Saturday May 11, 2013


I’ll admit if you’d asked me to go to a car show a year ago, I’d have wondered if you thought I was replaced with an alien. I know nothing about cars. Really. Nothing. I drive my car to and from work and I bought the most reliable car on the market so I’d never have to think about it. I even bought a hybrid to save on gas. I take it into the dealer for service when the light dings, and pretty much do whatever they tell me.


So when I say I went to a car show, you’ll understand what a huge, monumental step it was. Oh yes. My boyfriend is really into cars. He likes engines and drag racing, and owns a nonworking VW squareback. I am only now starting to be able to comprehend exactly what a squareback might be.


So we went to the Culver City car show, which just happens to be walking distance from my new apartment. My novice appreciation for the cars doesn’t diminish his joy; in fact, I think he likes sharing this new world with me. Men love to teach women something new, don’t they (well at least the best of them do)? By the way, he is also an amateur photographer and some of the shots of the event are his (I’ve marked ‘em).


Anyway, here are the facts of the show: This is the 10th Annual George Barris Culver City Car Show. The theme this year was Cruisin’ Back to the 50’s.


ED NOTE Photo 1 aerial (shot by Steve Britton)

Normally, when we talk about LA’s car culture, conversations of gridlock, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and frustration (road rage, anyone) go along.

And this past Saturday, the streets of downtown Culver City boasted bumper-to-bumper traffic, too. Surprisingly, though, it was mostly foot traffic. Culver Blvd and its tiny Main Street teemed with locals on a hot Saturday morning to celebrate the automobiles of the past.


ED NOTE Photo 2: Pancakes (shot by Heather Thompson)

When gearing up (terrible pun intended) for some hot cars, making the first stop at Fire Station #1 is critical—especially when the firefighters are cooking up a pancake breakfast. One thing I love about firemen is that they can cook. Also, I think the rookie in the background of this pic is kind of adorable. Here, an engineer is flipping golden perfect pancakes behind him to be served to local supporters. The pancakes were fluffy and as good as you’d find any restaurant. Plus, men who save people in uniform were the ones dishing it out. Win.


ED NOTE Photo 3: Joe-Zimmerman (photo by Heather Thompson)

Firemen are also passionate about cars. Three classics were on display at the station, including this one. Fire engineer Joe Zimmerman’s (pictured) dad built this classic rat rod (my other boyfriend, Wikipedia, says rat rods are custom cars that simulate hot rods built in the 40s, 50s, and 60s) during the 1950s while he was in the Army. Joe mostly talked about stuff I didn’t understand (I call it gear-head talk), but I love that he kept his dad’s hot rod. Cars that are an inheritance tap into my love of all things dad-related.


ED NOTE Photo 4: color-cars (photos by Steve Britton)

A lot of work (and cash) goes into refurbishing and customizing each car. Panels get taken off and welded into new shapes. Motors, gears and other parts are replaced with higher performance parts. And finally, a custom paint job bumps all the work into a high shine. Even if you don’t understand all the changes that a car went through, it’s easy to appreciate these automobiles as labors of love. Here, I’ve collaged a Toyota truck with a Chevy engine and my boyfriend wants me to say it’s a Japanese car with an American heart. He’s cheesy like that. Also pictured are a green Ford and a red Chevy together, a blue and purple Cadillac, and a T-bucket, which I’ve been given permission to buy for a certain someone’s birthday.


ED NOTE Photo 5: Jenny-Rojas (Photo by Steve Britton)

Another visually stunning part of the event was the annual pin-up contest. Jenny Rojas entered the contest this year, and found a roadster to match her perfectly coiffed pin curls. Although clearly in her knock-em-dead best, Jenny dresses in vintage everyday. My question was how she does she get her hair so perfect. Apparently, you use a curling iron and then a bobby pin to put it in the right place. It’s nice when you can have just a bit of girl talk in the middle of the day.


ED NOTE Photo 6: LyndaKay (Photo by Steve Britton)

While also rocking some seriously fab hair, Lynda Kay headed up the live music. This classic chanteuse has a golden voice to match her gold lamé outfit. I didn’t get a chance to talk with her but had to get a pic, because that type of serious cool cannot be ignored.


Photo 7: Hwoodcars (Photos by Heather Thompson and Steve Britton)

When the Heart of Screenland hosts a car show, it’s a good bet that many of the cars on display will have some silver screen billing. On loan from the Petersen Museum, as well as from private collectors, was a stretch Batmobile, the Blues Brother’s Cop Car, a sick Delorian (side note: per 1980’s car requirements, the odometer only goes up to 80 mph, not the 85 mph required for time travel) and kid/stoner-favorite, the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo.


Grills (Photos by Steve Britton)

I wanted to end on a note about the artistry that goes into cars. When Michelangelo worked, he looked for the personality trapped within the marble. Cars have a personality too. The love and care that goes into finding that personality is to be admired. Make no mistake, if passion and art go together, then this was the best free art show I’ve ever seen. This is Americana on display. Grant Wood and James Whistler would approve.


Heather Thompson is editor-in-chief of MD+DI (mddionline.com). She continues to think, ‘oooh pretty,’ when confronted with flashy hand-painted details on a rim, and responds with “huh?” when you talk about V6 supercharged engines.

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