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Annual Grand National Meet

Independence, Missouri, June 17, 2017
by Lisa Chaffin

While planning for a Summer Institute class at McPherson College, I was pleased to learn that the AACA Grand National Meet was taking place only 3 hours away from where Brandon and I would be.  We could not attend all of the events because we were in an engine diagnostics class until Friday afternoon but we were able to get to Independence, MO in time for the KC Joe’s BBQ dinner on Friday night.  We had been speeding across Kansas to get there in time, passing multiple antique malls AND a marble factory (gives me something to go back for) only to arrive to windy, stormy, hot weather.  While the food was very good, we were slightly disappointed that the cars had all been stashed in trailers so there wasn’t much to look at.  Brandon and I enjoyed our meal and then checked into our hotel for the night, just down the street from the Silverstein Eye Center Arena where the show was taking place the next day.

Saturday morning we got going early to try to beat the extreme heat that was being broadcast all over the news.  We easily parked the car, picked up our lanyards and then began to stroll through the vehicles on display.  First off were some tiny BMWs followed by a line of vintage motorcycles.  We zigzagged our way down the first row and as far as I could tell, there wasn’t an order to the way the cars were parked…many different eras all parked next to each other.  I can say that the cars on the field were beautifully restored and so clean.  I found myself looking for dirt in the tire treads but there was none to be found!  We had a fun conversation with a Packard owner, his long, brown, beautifully restored car just oozing with opulence.   Further down the line we were drawn in by a 1916 Cadillac.  Turns out it had been in the restoration process since the early 1960’s and three generations had worked on it to get it finished.  What an amazing vehicle!  The man showing the car (generation #3) had signed up to take the car on the Glidden Tour but hadn’t decided if he was ready to take it out on the road, exposing it to rock chips and crazy drivers.  It made me thankful to have cars that aren’t perfect but are very fun to drive.  We enjoyed some cars from the late 40’s and 50’s, noticing interesting air-conditioning systems, fabulous bumpers, eye-catching body lines and flashy headlights.  The variety was great and offered a lot to take in.

Inside the arena were the 20 “Zenith” cars, selected from over 3,300 cars that were shown during the year.  I do not envy the judges who had to select this collection of cars; it must have been very hard to choose.  This is the first year of the AACA Zenith Award and out of the 20 vehicles chosen only one car could be crowned with “Restoration of the Year”.  And that car was….a 1928 Auburn 8-88 Speedster owned by Richard and Helen Harding from Beavercreek, OH.  Brandon and I were pleased to see June Crane judging that very car while we looked on.  It was great to see a fellow Road Relic all the way in Missouri!