I’ve meant to share this bunch of car show photos for about a year. Well, better late than never some say. The number of masks on these images will certainly date most to 2022, but next installments will include stuff from 2023 as well.
Car shows are actually a novelty in San Salvador and have become on-and-off weekend events held by City Hall. It’s all part of an effort to revive the long decrepit downtown. Crowds get to be pretty large, and the scenery, between the old cars, the people, and the renovation process, makes for a hectic, fun, and rather surreal experience.
I’ll start with the American and European cars this time, and I’ll leave trucks and Japanese brands for further installments. The models in general, fit within the range of what’s expected on a vintage car show. There won’t be much you haven’t seen before. Still, you’ll get a taste of what automotive life is like down here.
As I said, these events are crowded, so I took the best shots I could. Some cars I just had to skip altogether as there was no way to get a clear image.
In order to avoid most of the crowds, I tend to show up late. I do get slightly clearer images that way, but the downside is that a few participants are already leaving. On my first visit, this 1965 Oldsmobile F-85 was already on its way out. A nice V-8 rumble was heard as it passed slowly by.
A 1950 Plymouth was around the corner, a brand that seems to have been popular over here during the ’50s and ’60s. Lacking a V-8 and being rather unknown today, the Plymouth was curiously solitary.
Ironically, this and the F-85 were the rarest models on display.
The building on the back is the National Theater and has served as the main display area for these shows. This being Latin America, even the best restorations will have some added flair here and there. Like the headlight treatment on this Plymouth.
Two classic-era vehicles were on display, a 1930 Ford and a Chevrolet of similar vintage. I was told both of these were direct imports, sold here back in the day. I didn’t dare to ask about the cartoony ‘Sheriff’ paint motif on the Chevy. Maybe the owner is a ‘Johnny Dangerously’ fan?
The 1930 Model A, on the other hand, was a very clean and nice restoration.
On that same row, a very glitzy 1952 Chevrolet 3500 sat next to a Mini.
The Mini is a worldwide phenomenon, with fans found everywhere. We’re no exception. This particular one was visiting from Guatemala, from that nation’s Mini club.
Since the Chevy ’58 sneaked into the previous shot, as may as well present these two Harley Earl wonders displayed next to the Mini. Whoever placed the three together, seems to have been making some kind of cynical statement.
The Mini and the ’58 with the Continental kit certainly make for a study in contrasts.
Both the ’57 and the ’58 are the kind of American cars that collectors over here covet. Local American iron lovers either lust for finned chrome glitz or muscle car power, the two concepts associated with Detroit’s heyday.
The ’57 drove away a little while later. It appropriately had a nice V-8 rumble.
Talking about excess, this overdone ’56 Beetle was in the same row.
Before I lose most of you, let’s get back to normality. On a more solitary block, another set of antique cars was set up. Here showed up an acquaintance of mine, with his late-sixties Triumph Spitfire Mk3. It was one of the first outings of the car, after a six-year-long restoration.
After parking, people just flocked to this thing, mesmerized. None of them knew what it was, but that didn’t keep them from taking photos and enthusiastically approving of the car.
- What’s it, some kind of Ferrari?
- Nope… a Triumph… a TRIUMPH!
I discovered then that the word ‘Triumph’ is really hard to pronounce for Spanish speakers. But they did try.
With the view of the car now blocked, I had to resort to close-ups.
Luckily, my acquaintance opened the hood and turned the engine on.
The sound of the Spitfire’s Inline-4 was an absolute beauty. Awfully seductive. Everything in the car seemed basic, well laid out, raw, and seductive. A mix of simplicity, beauty and brutality. The mix of attributes that keep old British sports cars in the hearts of a devoted fanbase.
To me, the Spitfire was the highlight of the show.
Let’s head back to the National Theater. The rest of the European display was the ‘usual.’ Models that have a worldwide following, with good reason. Like this late BMW 2002 and the Fiat Spider. As for the Mustang next to it, it almost made an appearance in a previous post of mine.
A few cars away, a rather sinister-looking 1970 (?) Cutlass sat right by the Theater’s entrance. A badge proudly announced its V-8 power.
As daylight faded, more participants left.
A while later, after having a quick bite, I left the event. I caught up with the Spitfire, also in the process of leaving. I followed it through the streets, filled with visitors, areas in renovation, and street artists still performing (a City Hall initiative). It was all rather surreal, but it didn’t keep me from returning a few more times.