The 2018 CC Midwest Gathering Recap: LTDs and Goooles

The 2018 CC Midwest Gathering is now in the history books.  Well, almost.  As I began writing this, one of the contributors who attended was still en route back home in a car he picked up while at the gathering.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  This Honda, fit enough to be a camper, did not go home with anybody but it does make for a fabulous leading picture.

Leaving Jefferson City Thursday afternoon in my swoon-inducing Ford van, I met contributor Jim Klein at the hotel.

Our subsequent adventure found these English beauties suffering from a distinct failure to motivate.  We found these shortly after Jim stated incredulously “damn, there’s a lot of American cars around here.”

He now believes my frequent claim about the preponderance of W-body GM cars still on the prowl.  He also saw more Land Rovers than he did Subarus.

Oddly, both Bentleys had missing grilles and/or drivetrains.

Some have been officially off the road for a dozen years or better.

The pick of the litter, such as it was, would be this fair-skinned fraulein.  I spent Thursday night at my in-laws house.

It seems Jim Klein was excited to visit Country Classic Cars (CCC) in Staunton, Illinois.  No sooner had I put the van in park at the motel upon arriving Friday morning than Jim was getting into the van.  He was quick, too, as he was nowhere to be seen as I entered the parking lot.

Meeting us at CCC shortly after our arrival was contributor JPCavanaugh and readers Rich C and VanillaDude.

Describing the abundance of inventory at CCC is hard to do as it is simply so expansive.  Cars are contained in five or six large buildings, under numerous carports that are up to several hundred feet long, and out in the elements.  Their website says they have over 600 cars in inventory and the sheet I picked up with their inventory as of September 11 is over four pages long, front and back, typed in very small font.  Every model year, except two, from 1927 to 1998 are accounted for.  The oldest is a 1923.

A 1969 Ford Country Sedan wagon was the pick of the litter for several of us.  Nobody got pictures as we later realized; we were too busy slobbering all over it, sitting inside and inspecting every square inch of that light blue, 351 powered goddess of long roof-dom.  I’ve discovered similar to be the case with several other primo cars.

Before I dive too far into this tale, one thing about the inventory at CCC was obvious – it had an abundance of full-sized Fords from 1967 to about 1975.  While Paul couldn’t make it, we mentioned him with every spotting of one.

This black 1971 LTD coupe was by the gate, welcoming all visitors.

It’s white bucket seat interior with handle shifter is no doubt a rarity.

Also from the monumental year of 1971 was this coupe…

This blue convertible….

And this red convertible.  Mark my words:  One of these days, these 1971 Ford LTDs will be held in the same high esteem as any Duesenberg, Marmon, or Pierce-Arrow.

This 1973 LTD was advertised as having only 6,800 miles on it, undoubtedly making it the lowest mileage ’73 Ford around.  VanillaDude and I had a good-spirited debate about it.  He thought the car repugnant; I maintained it is lithe with the various lines and creases projecting a ripped muscularity, especially when compared to its competitors from Dodge, Plymouth, and Chevrolet in 1973.

We good-naturedly agreed to disagree.

One that did present itself better, despite being dirty, was this 1970 LTD.  This car was so good I was compelled to text Paul a picture of it.  At that moment in time he was working on the plumbing in his camper.

Rounding out the run of LTD is this 1969 two-door….

And this rather plain 1975-ish LTD two-door.  Keep in mind all of these fabulous LTDs were built on the same basic chassis and it is Ford’s second best selling car platform ever, behind only the Model T.

The market knows a good thing when it sees it.

As I’m hoping to dispose of my ’63 Galaxie, my mind has been running wild with countless possible replacements, although I’m in no hurry for that.  This 1983 Chrysler Cordoba was a distinct candidate as I’ll be seeking something from my formative years.  With a red cloth interior, a 318, and only 44,000 miles it would make a great cruiser.

For a touch of something traditional yet not, this 1979 Buick Riviera intrigued me.  How is it untraditional?  It’s powered by a 3.8 liter turbocharged V6.

Since I’ve touched upon untraditional, let’s broaden that a bit to include unusual.  This 1975 Dodge Charger isn’t overly unusual, but let’s look at the interior.

Wow!  Nothing is turning up at that explains what this pattern is officially called.  My daughter said it would be great for people with kids as it would neatly camouflage barf stains.

It’s hard to know if that interior is any more rare than is this 1989 LaForza.  Made it Italy, it was sold in the US with a Ford powertrain.  It was quite comfortable to sit in and the console was as unobtrusive as the day is long.

Even more rare than the LaForza is this Chrysler Fifth Avenue pickup.  Obviously hand built, the quality was pretty darn decent.

Speaking of quality, something about the rear of this steel roofed 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood bothered us.  Can you tell what that might be?

Another bothersome find was this Mercedes.  Well, it was bothersome for Jim Klein and the bother wasn’t on the outside.

The bother was on the inside.  He was surprised MB-Tex could look like this.  However, the SL has leather upholstery which is an entirely different critter.

Another bothersome find was the front of this 1976 Buick Century wagon.  I have yet to figure out what is so wrong about it, but the opinions were stacked against me about four to one.  Granted, the execution is a might better on the 1976 Monte Carlo, the 1977 Dodge Monaco, the Ford LTD II, etc.

The angst came in multiples as there were two 1976 Century wagons available.  This one was used in an HBO movie about Liberace.  Somehow I don’t see Liberace driving a Buick wagon.

There was nothing bothersome about this 1978 Catalina wagon.  About as sparse as they could come, this Pontiac had 77,000 miles and a factory CB radio.  I’m not a profound fan of GM B-bodies, but this one was nice.

I took nearly 300 pictures at this gathering so there is no way to include them all, especially those from CCC.  But there are a few more crucial ones to include before continuing on our journey, as pre-war and independent make cars are a key part of our automotive history.

This 1939 Cadillac is one of those crucial cars.

As is a 1937 DeSoto.  A 1938 DeSoto that looked even better was also present.

This 1931 Nash is proof of the tenacity of the independents.

As is this 1929 Essex Six.

The independent makes continued after the war with AMC being the last man standing.  As harsh as it sounds, this 1975 Matador is part of why AMC is no longer around.  This particular one is powered by a 258 straight six.

That said, this 43,000 mile 1978 Concord was a sweet car.

Our last car in and of itself is nothing phenomenal – it’s a 1965 Mercury convertible.

But like with people, it is what’s on the inside that counts.  How many convertibles did Mercury make with a four-speed manual?  About five, most likely.

From there VanillaDude went home and rest of the party convoyed to St. Louis.

The next morning the two Jim’s and I headed for the Museum of Transportation.  This was what we followed out of the hotel parking lot; a sad looking 1988 to 1991 Ford LTD Crown Victoria, a car that with its earth-toned rainbow front end and three different dealer stickers on the trunk lid, it was obviously on its final voyage.

It was a POS LTD that was SOL in STL.

While at the museum we obeyed the abundance of attorney generated warning signs (mainly because we’re too, uh, mature to climb)….

Only to watch someone gleefully stick his finger up to exposed high voltage electric lines.  As was pointed out, there was nothing saying not to, so it looks like JPC can’t be impounded by the safety brigade.

Rich C had driven his 1976 Monte Carlo to the museum.  He’s owned it since 2008 and has doubled the mileage – to all of 28,000.  Powered by a 350, and with the original spare tire in the trunk, this Monte Carlo is a true time capsule.

I maintain (most) stacked headlights are the most awesomely awesome bit of automotive awesomeness ever.

He also brought along another time capsule.  This is a 1958 era child car seat Rich’s siblings used.  It’s advertised as a safe way for baby to sit or stand.  I’d take my chances on that high powered electric line as it’ll end it all much quicker with less mess.  That car seat is a great period piece but as for using it, no thanks.

While we were ogling Rich’s Monte Carlo, this Pontiac 6000 LE wagon pulled in.  It was driven by an employee of the museum.

The interior is immaculate.

On the topic of awesome interiors, one of the docents of the museum gave us a real treat.  This is the outside.

This is part of the inside.  Every time I’ve been to the museum, this car is locked.  Built in 1923, it was an executive coach used by the railroad.

Ever seen stained glass on a door inside a railroad car?

This particular car had wood trim everyone we looked except for the galley and employee shower – which had the toilet mounted square in the middle, allowing a person to multitask.  If one shaved while in there, they could perform “The Three S’s” all at once.

This particular car was used in a 1995 HBO movie about Harry Truman.

Here’s a clip of it with the train playing a distinct role from 1:50 to 4:30.  According to the docent this car was sent to Kansas City for filming; the train station depicting Weston was likely filmed on location as Weston is a small town midway between Kansas City and St. Joseph.

That car was attached to another passenger car built in 1923 that is a bit more austere.

While I’ve featured it before, it must be shown again – a Chrysler Turbine.  This is the third one seen at various CC events.

It’s interior was amazing in its own way.  This particular Turbine is the only operational one on public display.

After leaving the museum we met up with JPC II who is currently living in St. Louis.  We found this Volvo C70 convertible in the parking lot.

Later, we saw these two Lincoln’s in the downtown area.  Quite the change from 1970 (give or take a year) and the early 2000s.

It was a terrific shade of gun metal gray.  That’s a second Town Car in the left lane.

For our last car, we succeeding in finding two siblings.  Not, it wasn’t another LTD.  This is simply more scarce.  Parked in front of a motel that stated only adult men would be admitted, let me show you a product from the proud manufacturing lines of General Motors….

The second Pontiac 6000 LE we had seen within five hours.

Had this weekend been any better, we would have seen two downsized Chrysler Cordobas in one day.

Oh wait; we did.  It was a great weekend.

And you’ll have to stay tuned to see who took home a different ride and, more importantly, what it was.