I was blown away by the Viva Las Vegas car show before I even entered the event. My adventure started in the parking lot. As a pack of three motorcycles pulled away, I slid in only to discover I was parked next to a 1929 Model A Ford. The souped-up car looked more like a work of art than an operable machine, with an open engine leading to eight exhaust pipes and a cut out roof exposing a small bench seat that would be hard pressed to fit two modern era adults.
The owner popped the trunk to show off an old-timey Craftsman metal toolbox that housed his car’s battery; that something so old could still get you from point A to point B was shocking.
Once inside the car show’s gates, the celebration of aging automobiles continued. A bright metallic magenta 1960 El Camino greeted the greasers and pin-up style beauties with its sparkly paint job. Next to it, another 1960 El Camino basked in shiny gold. The vintage pair belongs to Priscilla and Mark Idzardi of Los Angeles. The couple fell in love and realized they both had the same car – thus began their quest to restore their beloved vehicles.
Priscilla’s “El Flamingo” featured a white fur-lined bed and pink and white detailing while Mark’s ride, nicknamed “Goldmember,” had the more traditional bed with orange piping on top of the gold sparkles. The cars shared the show’s trophy – a metal mélange of wrenches and bolts – for the best ‘60s custom car.
Elvis was in the building, too, or more specifically in the parking lot at VLV’s car show. Brian Dunning, an Elvis impersonator from Oklahoma City, had a gorgeous light pink 1959 Cadillac with an interesting story. The vehicle had been stolen from the parking lot of the Gold Coast, where the VLV car show used to reside, several years ago. Dunning and his crew were stranded in Las Vegas for five days before a repo man located the car for them. The Caddy was back in action, competing at this year’s show.
Keeping with the pink theme, a bright pink 1958 Studebaker caught everyone’s eye. In a matching pink ‘50s dress and cat eye glasses, the owner said she had put about $20,000 into “Betty” to get her fully restored and properly purring.
And Betty wasn’t the only vehicle that had some serious cash in her curves. A survey of owners revealed that most had sunk at least $10,000 into their cars, and several old customs had for sale signs on their hoods, possibly a sign of the times. I’m still holding onto my broken down 1966 Mustang, though the offers are getting more and more tempting as the economy looks gloomier.
With over 300 vintage vehicles in the same lot flanked by ladies in corsets and pin curls, car show attendees were almost transported back in time. In addition to the roadsters and family cars setting the scene, there was a police car, an old-fashioned taxicab and even a vintage ice cream truck. No popsicles were being passed out of the truck’s window, but you could buy a pack of cigarettes, if you liked.