When Classic Airplanes and Classic Cars Come Together
He (or she) who dies with the most toys wins.
By Les Abend
August 19, 2022
The axiom in the subtitle provokes a smile in most of you…or at least a smirk. Not only does it endorse materialism, but it suggests the pursuit of toy accumulation is competitive. Although we won’t admit it, most of us accept that not only is such a pursuit unattainable, it shouldn’t be the focus of our lives. That being said, it sure is fun to dream. I was fortunate enough to spend a day doing just that with one classic Piper Arrow and about 3,500 classic cars.
For a few years I have annoyed my wife with the notion of purchasing a car to match my birth year. The idea was unrealistic. The logistics of storage and maintenance intermingle with the trepidation that such an automobile could only be seen and not touched. After my exposure to the classic car world through my JetBlue captain friend, Mike Strauss, I realized that some toys can be classified as “drivers.” Drivers still have value, but can also be enjoyed beyond the boundaries of a car show on a blue-sky Sunday in June.
With much supervision from Mike and another mutual friend, Kage Barton, a retired Continental/United captain, I was convinced to pull the trigger on my first classic car. The purchase put a grin on my face. As expected, my wife managed a hesitant smile, gracefully acknowledging the acquisition. Interestingly enough, the seller was a spry 90-year-old who had been a Navy aviation electronics technician during the Korean War. He admired pilots, even though we attempted to convince him that he should probably raise his standards. Through him, I soon had the honorable responsibility of becoming the next “custodian” for a 1957 Chrysler New Yorker.
Now in the world of classic cars, I was invited to appropriate events, one of them being the world-famous Mecum auction. There, toys in the form of cars, boats, motorcycles, and engines are displayed for bidding in such utterly ridiculous quantities—from the paint-challenged to the ostentatious—that it boggles the mind. For this year, the auction venues were at 13 locations across the U.S., inclusive of live streaming and a regular TV show. In January, one show took place in Kissimmee, Florida, which presented the opportunity for a 35-minute flight in my classic 50-year-old airplane.
Story credit: Flying Magazine; https://www.flyingmag.com/when-classic-airplanes-and-classic-cars-come-together/