What an Experience! (a 2014 reflection)

Richard and Leanne Zapala reflect on the 2014 Experience.

1935 LaSalle Coupe

We couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday morning, June 1 of 2014, in Michigan.  Warmth, sun shining, light breeze.  Perfect show day for heading to Hickory Corners, MI and the Gilmore Car Museum Campus, home of this year’s annual CCCA Museum’s Grand Experience Concours and soon to be completed CLC World Dealership/Museum. This year’s featured Grand Experience theme marques were all Cadillacs and LaSalles through 1962 and all CCCA Full Classics.

With “Butter Cream,” our pale yellow with black leather interior 1935 LaSalle Convertible Coup Roadster, tucked safely in our car hauler, we set out over the back roads from Haslett. Once at the Museum grounds, in excited anticipation of the day, we backed her out and gave one last wipedown (a ritual whether she needs it or not) before taking her to the show field.

This being our first event of the year, it was exciting seeing the beautiful old automobiles we’ve become familiar with since beginning to show in 2008 and all the new old cars we were seeing for the first time. Reminds one of walking through the dark tunnel in old Tiger Stadium and seeing the bright green grass! It was also enjoyable seeing the familiar faces and friends of the owners of all these beautiful cars and catching up on stories about events they have been to, from Pebble Beach to Hilton Head. For the 2014 Experience, there were approximately nine LaSalle entrants and 35 Cadillacs.  Show cars were judged not in competition with one another but on the basis of a particular car’s own merit.

As always, Katie Robins did an extraordinary job coordinating this weekend event. The CCCA Full Classics met on Saturday and participated on Sunday as well. And, as most of you know, when you’re around Katie, she has a knack for making you feel your car is the most special one being shown. We appreciate that. We, too, feel our car is special.

The day was sunny and warm and enjoyable, despite the personal anxiety in the morning of having three judges looking over your personal possession with pens and clipboards in hand! However, it ended with a pleasant surprise. Our LaSalle had placed upon its windshield a blue ribbon for “Best in [its LaSalle] Class.” Not a bad way to begin the season, as the LaSalle competition was stiff. We were parked next to Bob Lutz’s beautiful 1934 yellow LaSalle CCP, a rare day to see both in one spot. Bob deservingly won the People’s Choice Award.  A great day for LaSalles.

With excited smiles on our face, we drove our LaSalle with top down and Leanne in the rumble seat in front of the grandstand crowd, along with the numerous other winners to collect their hard-earned awards.

As we headed back to Haslett, the LaSalle safely in tow, the beautiful day and concours event reminded us that winning a ribbon was not the goal but rather the restoration and/or exhibition of these fine classic vehicles for all generations to see. As they represent a bygone piece of significant automotive and industrial American history.

As we remind ourselves and all car enthusiasts, we are not the final owners of these beautiful and historic vehicles, we merely are their temporary caretakers for the brief time we possess and exhibit them as we did on a fine beautiful Sunday in June.

–Richard and Leanne Zapala