QOTD: What's Your Favorite Type of Car Show?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd what s your favorite type of car show

Ever since I was a lad, [s]growing up[/s] [s]maturing[/s] getting older in a community of about 1,200 souls and 90 minutes from any sort of car dealership, I’ve been fascinated by cars. Grasping every copy of a car magazine that found its way into our rural mailbox with my grubby little hands, I’d read each one cover to cover until the pages fell out. I knew what each person in our town drove; when someone showed up with new wheels, I’d invariably appear in their driveway asking if I could look at it. That wouldn’t fly today. Good thing everyone knew each other.

Thanks to this dearth of youthful car-related entertainment, 30 years later I now find myself checking out every single car show I happen to find, quenching a long simmering thirst for cool wheels.

Some shows are organized to the nth degree: wait in line, pay the cover, and be herded into a dimly lit stadium like beef cattle for the privilege of seeing the same cars that were there last year. Others are vast, expansive outdoor affairs, stretching across lush grass fields dotted with colorful cars, looking for all the world like The Friendly Giant spilled his bag of Skittles.

Cars & Coffee is a new experience for me, particularly one where private owners show off supercars that cost several multiples what I paid for my house. The image above is from this past weekend at the duPont Registry in St. Pete, Florida. The mix of cars was an absolute riot: Lambo, Lambo, Ford GT, Ferrari, Lotus, Neon, Porsche … wait, what? Neon? Well, at least it’s a highly fettled SRT4.

That’s the thing: I don’t care what type of cars are at a show. If someone is enthusiastic about their ride, then that’s cool. Gold-plated investors who pay top dollar for a collector car, driving up the price for the rest of us, only to park the thing and hermetically seal it in a garage … not so much. The type of car doesn’t matter to me either. Domestic or import, it’s all attractive to me. And, yes, Tim, I do still care about horsepower.

Thinking of that, it was well into the ‘90s before one could count the number of import-brand cars on more than two hands. I’m serious. Up until then, the automotive landscape consisted of Cavaliers and Tempos, plus the scattered Grand Am. Trucks, which were as commonplace as white powder in a record producer’s office, were mostly battered examples from the Detroit Three. My father, naturally, drove a pea-green Renault Encore.

Y’know, if anyone had the temerity to suggest back then that two of the three manufacturers that provided 98 percent of the automobiles in our town would barely make it into the next century before wobbling into bankruptcy, they would’ve been laughed off the island. To suggest one of their saviors would be Italian probably would have earned a person an extended stay at The Waterford in our capital city. But that’s a QOTD for another time.

With all that in mind, what’s your favorite type of car show? Some sort of highly organized event full of high-priced exotics? A casual Sunday-morning gathering in an empty parking lot? Or something different?

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2 of 26 comments
  • Make_light I drive a 2015 A4 and had one of these as a loaner once. It was a huge disappointment (and I would have considered purchasing one as my next car--I'm something of a small crossover apologist). The engine sounded insanely coarse and unrefined (to the point that I wasn't sure if it was poor insulation or there was something wrong with my loaner). The seats, interior materials, and NVH were a huge downgrade compared to my dated A4. I get that they are a completely different class of car, but the contrast struck me. The Q3 just didn't feel like a luxury vehicle at all. Friends of mine drive a Tiguan and I can't think of one way in which the Q3 feels worth the extra cost. My mom's CX-5 is better than either in every conceivable way.
  • Arthur Dailey Personally I prefer a 1970s velour interior to the leather interior. And also prefer the instrument panel and steering wheel introduced later in the Mark series to the ones in the photograph. I have never seen a Mark III or IV with a 'centre console'. Was that even an option for the Mark IV? Rather than bucket seats they had the exceptional and sorely missed 60/40 front seating. The most comfortable seats of all for a man of a 'certain size'. In retrospect this may mark the point when Cadillac lost it mojo. Through the early to mid/late 70's Lincoln surpassed Cadillac in 'prestige/pride of place'. Then the 'imports' took over in the 1980s with the rise of the 'yuppies'.
  • Arthur Dailey Really enjoying this series and the author's writing style. My love of PLC's is well known. And my dream stated many times would be to 'resto mod' a Pucci edition Mark IV. I did have a '78 T-Bird, acquired brand new. Preferred the looks of the T-Bird of this generation to the Cougar. Hideaway headlights, the T-Birds roof treatment and grille. Mine had the 400 cid engine. Please what is with the engine displacements listed in the article? I am Canada and still prefer using cubic inches when referencing any domestic vehicles manufactured in the 20th century. As for my T-Bird the engine and transmission were reliable. Not so much some of the other mechanical components. Alternator, starter, carburetor. The vehicle refused to start multiple times, usually during the coldest nights/days or in the most out of the way spots. My friends were sure that it was trying to kill me. Otherwise a really nice, quiet, 'floaty' ride, with easy 'one finger' steering and excellent 60/40 split front seat. One of these with modern mechanicals/components would be a most excellent highway cruiser.
  • FreedMike Maybe they should buy Twitter now.
  • FreedMike A lot of what people are calling "turbo lag" may actually be the transmission. In this case, Audi used a standard automatic in this application versus the DSG, and that makes a big difference. The pre-2022 VW Arteon had the same issue - plenty of HP, but the transmission held it back. If Audi had used the DSG, this would be a substantially quicker, more engaging car. In any case, I don't get these "entry lux" compact CUVs (think: Cadillac XT4, Lexus NX, BMW X1, etc). If you must have a compact CUV, I can think of far better options for a lot less money. And, no, the Tiguan isn't one of them - it has the Miller-cycle 2.0T, so it's a dog. But a Mazda CX-30 with the 2.5T would fit the bill.