Yesterday, Culver Boulevard in downtown Culver City was lined with hundreds of cars, none of them moving. A typical traffic-filled Saturday? Not quite. The fifth annual Antique Car Show, “Cruisin’ Back to the 50s,” took over downtown. As advertised, retro ruled the day, with over 400 classic and custom cars of many varieties, live music, food, and car-related items for sale.
Amid the huge crowd, the star of the show was George Barris (pictured here in yellow jacket), creator of some of the most famous film and television theme cars of all time, including the Batmobile, the Monkeemobile, and the General Lee. Barris promised to bring some of his theme cars along, and he did not disappoint. Baby Boomers swooned in front of his Munsters Koach (pictured here) and Grandpa Munster’s Dragula Coffin Racer. Talk about being ensconced in velvet!
Amid this irrational exuberance, noticeably absent from the car show was the cloud of political incorrectness that hangs over some conversations about classic American cars. Everyone knows that these cars’ big-block engines and tons of overhanging steel — sometimes in the shape of airplane-inspired fins — resulted in poor gas mileage. Yet the cars were built during a very different time, when American gasoline, raw materials, and optimism were plentiful. Ironically, a giant custom Hummer on display served as a reminder that we have not yet learned the lessons of the energy crises that have occurred since most of the cars in the show were produced.
Then again, along with love of the automobile, failing to learn the lessons of history is perhaps a truly American trait. But if we can’t learn from our history, at least we can put it on display and really enjoy it.