This year’s Grand National
was the third I have attended. It was easily the greatest and grandest,
and without question the largest. I was also very impressed with the
organizational structure, the attention to detail, and the way they
involved so many people to pull it off.
The Hyatt Regency
Dearborn was an excellent site to host such an event. The hotel and
meeting rooms were easily accessible and, more importantly, the hotel
was surrounded by parking lots. The hotel was in regular operation even
with us taking the majority of their rooms and parking. The show car
parking and the swap meet took up two full parking lots.
It would be difficult to find a
1931 Cadillac with ugly styling.
I arrived very late Tuesday
night by plane and left Saturday afternoon after the rolling awards
presentation but prior to the Saturday evening banquet. The only other
region members that I saw there were Ed Cholakian, who was busy working,
Joel Shapiro, and Jerry Krumm. (Jerry was dressed in a coat and tie!
While at the GN, I went to several of the side
events. The cocktail reception, hosted at the General Motors Corporate
Headquarters had to be attended by bus. On returning to our buses, each of
us received a special gift, a shadow box holding all Cadillac crests ever
used, a very beautiful and obvious collector’s item.
A 1934 La Salle convertible coupe
I also went to the Cadillac Division museum,
the Mustang manufacturing plant and a cemetery. We went on the cemetery
tour because Ford changed times on us at the last minute and wouldn’t
let us into the Mustang plant until much later than scheduled, so the bus
took us to the cemetery, which was in the vicinity. The tour included the
graves of Henry Ford, Henry Leland and David Buick.
When I signed up to attend the convention, I
volunteered to help with the judging. Because I thought I could not stay
all day, I became a runner and not a judge on Friday.
The ‛67s start down the
judging line as a ‛66 finishes
Early in the morning all of
the judges and runners met for breakfast. Paul Ayres, Chief Judge,
explained what he wanted to accomplish and how to do it. In this meeting
he selected the judging team captains and the other judges to work with
them at each station. When he finished his comments, we watched a video on
judging (I believe from CCCA). It was a good video and helpful.
One of the criteria they
tried to follow was that they wanted the same set of eyes to judge every
car, a terrific concept. This worked great, except that they had two
judging lanes running, although they tried to have all the cars in a class
run through the same lane.
A 1949 Coupe de Ville
Runners wore green vests, which
we kept. Judges wore white, and all the big wheels wore gold. As a runner,
I picked up three clipboards with judging sheets and the car at the
starting point, where the owners checked in when called. I then escorted
the car through the six checkpoints. The drivers never saw the judging
sheets. In fact, most of them stayed in their cars at each stop.
A 1950 Series 62 sedan
I gave the clipboards to the
three judges at each stop. When the judges finished marking, I took the
clipboards and the car to the next stop. At the end of the judging lane, I
took the clipboards to the judging trailer while the driver waited. The
Scantron judging sheets were processed to be sure they were fully readable
by the computer before I released the car and driver. I personally
escorted about a dozen cars and stayed until judging ended at about 3:00
This was a very efficient
system, in part because there were lots of volunteers. Over 260 cars were
judged in two days.
Although Harley Earl had warned that
the proportions would be off, Harold “Bill” Boyer, an exec.
vice-president who ran a tank factory for GM during the Korean War,
ordered this custom “roadster”. It is a ‛51-‛52 hybrid on
a shortened chassis. The car was probably dark metallic red originally.
See also Self-Starter Annual, Vol. XXI.
On Saturday, there was an
awards presentation with each winner driving through the judging area to
receive the award. CLC’ers lined the road, giving recognition as the
cars drove by.
I was totally
blown away by the quality of the vehicles at this Grand National. Truly,
this event celebrating 100 years of Cadillac brought out the best of the
best. Almost every car in every class was an outstanding example.
Shadow box of Cadillac emblems which
GM gave reception attendees
One man said he spent $110,000
restoring his 1966 Coupe de Ville. The car looked better than new. That
is, the restoration removed most of the factory imperfections and was to
concours level. The owner said to me, “One thing led to another and I
guess I just got carried away!” No kidding!!
Congratulations to regional members Jack and Carol Frank,
whose ‘35 V-12 took First Prize in the Senior Division class for all
V-12 and V-16 cars.
GN photos courtesy of Julian Cangelosi