A few Sundays back, I was given the wonderful opportunity to go to the Lacy Park Car Show, in San Marino for free. The catch, which was not truly a catch, was that I was going to be judging in the Brass Era section. Mr. Kidd had told me a week before that I was signed up to do so, but he had no qualms from me. I was ecstatic at the opportunity. I was going to meet up with Mr. and Mrs. Hunter, the couple who owns the 1904 Pope Toledo, and be under their wing for judging.
I showed up a little before 7 to see the cars come in, a suggestion by Mr. Hunter. I walked to the front gate and told the attendants that I was here for judging, somehow I was not on the list but one of them walked me in and gave me a judges pass. See, just act like you know what you are doing and you can get into anything.
I stood by two parking attendants flagging cars every-which way ,and took a bunch of pictures of course, while discussing cars that the attendants had owned in the past as well as naming the make, model, and year of whatever was coming in. I will say that I was at a loss when it came to the Porche’s and Ferrari’s.
A bit before 8:00 I managed to find the Hunters. We continued to watch the classic cruise in then proceeded to have a Judges breakfast, (another perk to the job). After breakfast and a meeting, which consisted of making sure each class had a judge and that everyone knew where they were going, we proceeded to make our way to the Brass section.
First up was a 1903 Cadillac owned by Joe Conzonire, whom I later found out owned “The Hat” restaurants. The procedure for judging was to walk up to the owner, introduce ourselves and have them talk a little about their car. After that the owner will proceed to fire up their vehicle. Assuming that it runs well, the judges will them ask the owner to turn on headlights, taillights, signals, horn and such, assuming that the vehicle has all of these. Once those requirements have been checked we then look at the rest of the car,looking for leaks, tears in upholstery, incorrect fittings and bolts, paint finish, and so on. The Cadillac did very well,mainly because we didn’t have much to judge. Mr. Hunter explained to me that very early cars have an advantage, because there is less to them, therefore there is less to go wrong.
The cars that were in our section also included a 1913 Mercedes owned by the Nethercutt’s. Later, Mr. Hunter told me that we had met Mr. Nethercutt, which I was unaware of. I wish I knew at the time, because I always like to put a face with a car. I was told beforehand that there was a high chance that the Nethercutt car would do very well and indeed it did. If I can recall correctly it received a possibly 100 out of 100 (before Elegance factor) which I will explain later on.
Additionally entered was a 1924 Hudson. I know that this is a little later than the traditional “brass era and nickel era” but it was in our section, as well as a 1915 Dodge (not judged), 1915 Pierce Arrow, a 1908 De Dion Buton, Mr. and Mrs. Hunter’s Rolls Royce Silver Ghost (also not judged), as well as a Rauch & Lang Electric.
Even though it was not judged my favorite was the Dodge. Wait…What..a lowly driver condition Dodge touring car? Yes indeed my dear readers, yes indeed. I talked with Mr. Lucas (the owner) and his mechanic for a while about the Dodge. Though Mr. Lucas has quite an extensive collection, I was told a 36,000 sq. ft. warehouse full, he said that if all his cars were to be auctioned off this is the one he would hide in the corner to keep. He said that as a kid he and his friends would get these old Dodges out of farmers barns. Evidently the farmers were making bank in the 1920’s and wanted to step up to something other than a Model T, so they bought these. After enough years the Dodge’s were relegated to the barns. Many of the farmers told him if they could get it running they could have it, so he and his friends did just that. Apparently Mr. Lucas was driving himself to Junior High in these types of cars as well. His teachers said that he couldn’t possibly do that, he wasn’t old enough to drive and it was illegal. He explained that for most of the drive it was on farmers’ fields (private property) that didn’t care, so it was indeed okay to do so. Lastly I will mention that he had a nifty addition to it called an explosion whistle. What it is, is that a primer cup was converted to open during combustion creating a loud whistle, just one more personal touch to the vehicle.
After going through the section we conferred back at the judges table for lunch, may I reinforce what a good deal this was. We had a fanciful looking box lunch, even with a ribbon on top. During this period in time the points were tallied and elegance factor was taken into effect. Essentially “elegance factor” has to deal with the provenance of the vehicle.
As someone else put it, if two vehicles are really close the Mercedes shouldn’t lose to a Hudson, if both had the same quality of restoration finding out information, parts, and such on the Mercedes require more effort and is a more impressive feat than the Hudson. It would be the equivalent of having a Model T win over a Packard, which one is harder to find information and parts for? It was interesting to see how similar the judging style and process was to Pebble Beach. When I was shadow judging at Pebble Beach I was just starting to see how everything worked, so to already have a bit of an understanding helped.
After everything was tallied up ( with the Mercedes’s getting first) I was free for the day. The Hunter’s were able to give me one of their extra tickets as an “exhibitor” since they had two judge passes, so my Grandmother was able to tag along as we walked through the show.
The day seemed to get progressively hotter and the cars were not exactly in the shade, but the show was enjoyable. Thank you to Mr. Kidd as well as Mr. and Mrs. Hunter for this wonderful experience.