Eye Candy: Orphan Car Show, Phoenix

An orphan car show might sound like a mournful affair, but it’s really a celebration of great if defunct automotive brands that have been kept alive by dedicated enthusiasts.

Photos by Bob and Marci Golfen

An orphan car show might sound like a mournful affair, but it’s really a celebration of great if defunct automotive brands that have been kept alive by dedicated enthusiasts.

In Phoenix, the 24th annual Orphan Car Show was held once again in a downtown neighborhood park where dozens of classic cars and trucks from automakers that no longer exist were lined up under a bright-blue sky for all to admire.

The show highlighted mainly post-war cars, although there were such things as a handsome 1909 Hudson and a concours-winning 1940 Packard Super Eight.

Three marques dominated – Studebaker, Kaiser and Hudson, which edged out the others in the sheer number of fabulous Hornets. All of these old brands have active clubs in Phoenix.

Some of the other orphans on hand were produced by Rambler, MG, Triumph, Nash and such recently lost brands as Oldsmobile, Plymouth and Pontiac.

The Orphan Car Show is a relaxed affair, so there were also some nice old cars from other automakers that are still with us today.

Favorites included a bold and beautiful 1953 Olds Fiesta convertible, a pair of Kaiser-Darren sports cars with their unique “pocket” doors, a 1952 Hudson Hornet two-door with Twin H-Power carburetion for its flathead six, a lovely 1927 Cadillac and a quirky 1977 AMC Gremlin X.

An early 1950s Studebaker flatbed truck carried in its bed a nearly identical pedal car, which had in its bed a nearly identical model, which had in its bed an even smaller toy of the full-size flatbed. All were painted in the same shade of gray-blue. Pure theater.

Another Studebaker, a 1940s Starlight Coupe, sported an early version of air-conditioning, an evaporative-cooler mounted in the passenger-side window.

Many orphan classic cars remain alive and well, as can be seen by the number of orphan car shows held around the country. For those hobbyists and collectors who embrace them, it’s a point of pride to keep the light shining brightly.

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