- Posted August 20, 2013 by
Elizabeth, New Jersey
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
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Exploring the Soul of U.S. Car Culture - Part 2 of 2
Additional photos from the 8th Annual Elizabeth Car & Bike Show.
This past weekend I attended the 8th Annual Elizabeth Car & Bike Show. I always seem to learn more about car culture with every show that I attend. In this case, that there's so many aspects to car culture in the United States, based on where you're from and your personal experience. While it wasn't the largest automobile event that I've attended, there was a fantastic variety of vehicles on display, showcasing souped up hot rods, chromed Harley Davidson bikes, wild customs, and my personal favorite - restored American classics. The event was made more fun with live bands and performances by a young Michael Jackson lookalike.
One vehicle in particular caught my eye - a nearly 100% original 1972 Cadillac Eldorado, aptly called "The Elegant Sweet Georgia Brown." The vehicle's owner, Phillip Bauknight, was more than happy to share his stories of ongoing efforts to maintain a car that, at one time was considered so prestigious, President Nixon gave a Sable Black version to Soviet Leader Leonard Brezhnev. The Cadillac Eldorado defined an era and was dramatically featured in the 1972 Gordon Parks Jr. film Super Fly. Its massive hood was completely functional, as it was necessary to house the car's powerful 500 cubic inch engine, the largest production engine to ever be put in a domestic automobile. Bauknight - who represents a strong contingent of African Americans with a passion for vintage U.S. steel - made sure that only the finest parts went into restoring "Sweet Georgia Brown." Bauknight's dedication is exemplary of tens of thousands of Americans who celebrate past eras through their dedication to a pastime that offers virtually no financial reward, but garners enduring friendships with people from divergent backgrounds.
Al Martin's 1961 Jaguar MK IX 3.8 Litre was another of the many standouts of the day. His car was also beautifully restored with an impeccable interior. Martin even had a full wine and coaster drink set inside for just the right affect. Some of the many other stunning vehicles on display included a vintage Chevrolet Camaro and Corvair, dozens of Plymouths, Buicks, Pontiacs & Harley Davidson's, a few Studebakers & Volkswagen Beetles, a drivable replica Batmobile, and even an early 1900's Fire Engine owned by the Elizabeth, New Jersey Fire Department.
The 8th Annual Elizabeth Car & Bike Show revealed to me a great deal about the passion and hard work that goes into maintaining and restoring these amazing vehicles. There seems to be a unifying element that interest in cars naturally cultivates, along with a surprising excitement from young kids, who showed an interest in something to do with American history.