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Orphan Car Show highlights long-gone classics

Wed, 13 Oct 2010

Marvelous as it is a setting for car shows, Riverside Park in Ypsilanti, Mich., does present a risk: The park is built in the floodplain of the Huron River. When organizers showed up to stage this year's Orphan Car Show--the nation's largest to feature cars built by companies that no longer do business in America--on June 6, they found the judging stand underwater. An impromptu “show” throughout nearby Depot Town and at the host Miller Motors Hudson/Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum wasn't quite the same thing.

So museum curator Jack Miller booked the park for Sept. 26, invited everyone to return and accepted a handful of new registrations. The result: 349 cars entered and more than 300 present on a cool, cloudy but dry Sunday. Nearly 50 of the entrants were in the featured Corvair class, celebrating the 50th year since the introduction of the original 1960 model. Most “Orphan” shows don't welcome these Chevrolet models, but they were built at Willow Run in Ypsilanti, and the national club collection is housed at the museum, so they get in here and this was their year--though the rain delay pushed the party back to nearly the 51st anniversary of the October 1959 introduction.

A panel of judges that included former Corvair ad writer and dean of car magazine journalists David E. Davis (who has offices nearby) selected a red '64 Spyder with white interior as their favorite in this group, though cars continued to show up well after the judging was done.

Judges are asked to choose one favorite from each class and come up with a wide array of interesting choices, ranging from a Studebaker “survivor” wearing nearly 90 years worth of patina to a freshly restored '65 Rambler Marlin with the rarely chosen inline six-cylinder engine. A genuine classic era Isotta-Fraschini was found among the Citro

By Kevin A. Wilson