Eye Candy: 5 & Diner’s 4th annual Rockabilly Bash

Photos by Larry Edsall

At so many local car shows, you drive in, park, break out the lawn chairs, walk a lap and then spend the day sitting and talking with your old friends. Not at the Rockabilly Bash.

Staged by the 5 & Diner restaurant group’s Phoenix stores, in four years the Rockabilly Bash has established itself as the custom car show where, if you’re sitting, it’s likely to be at high speeds as you take your car on a pass — or a few — down the adjacent Wild Horse Pass drag strip, but where you’re more likely to be up on your feet, looking at cars, visiting the vendors, or tapping your toes or even sock-hop dancing to the music provided by a parade of live bands.

Oh, and if you want to sit, there are plenty of big tables where you can eat food from the 5 & Diner-operated concession stand.

Hundreds of cars and their owners and a few thousand spectators show up every year. And the cars and the bands are not the only attraction. The event includes a WW2-style pinup fashion competition.

Eye Candy: Young and Old Timers car show

Photos by Larry Edsall

Like so many classic car hobbyists, members of the Arizona Street Rod Association are concerned about the future, about whether the next generation will see their cherished vehicles as rolling works of art meant to be enjoyed or as having value only as a source for steel, aluminum and other materials that can be recycled.

To help introduce high school students to the hobby, the street rodders staged a Young and Old Times Car Show one recent weekend in the parking lot at the East Valley Institute of Technology, a magnet school in Mesa, Ariz., that offers career training in everything from auto technology to video production, cosmetology to culinary arts, and firefighting to pharmacy technician studies to students from dozens of Phoenix-area high schools.

With plenty of other events taking place the same day and with the street in front of the school torn up for the installation of public-transit tracks, it wasn’t easy to maneuver vintage or any other kind of vehicles into the lot. Plus, said street rodders secretary Dave Eagleburger, “by this time all the winter visitors are gone home.”

Still, some 80 vehicles — many of them spectacular — were on display and competing for trophies hand-made by EVIT students.

“Most of the cars were from us old guys,” Eagleburger said. However, students took home three of the trophies, and the event did what it set out to do — raise some money for the school’s auto-technician training program.

“We would have preferred to have gotten more of the high school students there,” he said. “We would like to cultivate more younger ‘hot rod’ guys, more students involved in what I call car showing and shining and building them and driving them.

“It really doesn’t matter what kind of car it is,” he added, noting that while the old timers may prefer ’32 Ford roadsters and such, what he sees as important isn’t the age of the vehicle but the effort to “make what they drive more unique than what you can buy from the car store.”

Despite the turnout, “it was a good start,” Eagleburger said. “It was like playing in a band. The first time you get together, it’s not very tight. We hope that next time we can tighten it up and make it more festive.”

Obviously, the Arizona rodders aren’t the only group of graybeards working to spread the word to the next generation about the joy of the custom car hobby. If your group has found a successful way to do that, please use the comment box below to share the details.

Eye candy: Motoring Thru Time

Photos by Larry Edsall

Does your city recognize the role the automobile has played in its history?

Mine does.

Since 2007, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department has hosted an annual classic car show. “Motoring Thru Time: Where the transportation past meets the future,” is held in Heritage Square, which itself if sort of a past-meets-present (and beyond) square block of downtown Phoenix.

Heritage Square includes some of Phoenix’s oldest homes, among them the  Rosson House (now Rosson House Museum), a 10-room, 1895 Victorian home on what used to be known as Block 14 during the days when Arizona was a territory, not a state. The house sits at one corner of Heritage Square, which includes other historic homes and buildings but also much more modern structures with futuristic architecture, including the Arizona Science Center and Phoenix Museum of History and Science.

On a Saturday early each February, architecture old and new provides the backdrop for a gathering of more than 110 vehicles — cars, a few motorcycles and bicycles, historic fire engines and even classic travel trailers and their vintage tow vehicles.

This year the oldest car was a 1903 Olivera Horseless Carriage — sort of a knockoff of the Curved Dash Olds, though the Olivera was built in Mexico, not Michigan.

The newest vehicle on display was a 2011 Mario Andretti Edition Chevrolet Camaro. The Camaro was parked next to what is believed to be the last 1905 Mitchell D4 runabout in existence.

The cars were parked together for a display of Fast Cars: Then and Now. You know an Andretti-badged Camaro is fast, but the Mitchell set speed records in its day, winning 50- and 100-mile races and averaging more than 55 miles per hour around a dirt-surface horse-racing track. The Mitchell not only was fast, but strong — the first car to summit Inspiration Point in Yosemite National Park.

Fast and strong, perhaps, but not quick. The 627-horsepower Camaro sprints to 60 mph in four seconds. The Mitchell needs 26 ticks of the second hand to reach that same speed.