There was a time when the automotive landscape was full of brands all over America, though most were concentrated around Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The ones that didn’t survive each had a respective reason to curtail production and, as cars were often disposable, these brands often were never heard from again. That’s why Ypsilanti, Michigan’s Orphan Car Show is so important — you get to see vehicles that often are ignored by the mainstream.
Not too long ago, the Orphan Car show was the unofficial homecoming for these marques — cars like Nash, Kaiser and Studebaker, among many others that have come and gone from the American landscape. So, it is with some tinge of unease to see Pontiacs, Plymouths, Oldsmobiles and Mercurys, as it doesn’t seem congruent to include those with Hupmobiles and Crosleys, but they too are considered orphans today and therefore are welcome to stand alongside the veterans.
The mission of the Orphan Car Show is “to feature vehicles that the parent company no longer exist. To grow the interest in this special collection of vehicles for the next generation.” That’s but one level of consideration of what is an orphan, but there are others:
Brands that were dropped in 2010 or earlier though the parent company still exists, like Edsel, Monarch and Saturn.
Vehicles that were separate brands at some point in their history, such as Imperial and Continental.
Imported brands previously sold in the U.S. but now absent for 25+ years yet may still be sold in other countries, like Citroen, Rover and Borgward.
Brands that are continuations of previous production cars (though not kit cars), like the Avanti.
There are two exceptions: the Chevrolet Corvair, which has a connection to Ypsilanti, and Jeeps before 1988, as they were manufactured by a company that no longer exists.
The show is held at Riverside Park, which is a gorgeous piece of property right by the Huron River. Bike trails and fishing are but two features, making the park a stellar location for the event.
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle.
But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in the Southwest.