Thousands of spectators, hundreds of show cars, and dozens of vintage racing cars endured extreme heat and humidity in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, over the weekend during the twenty-ninth annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP), which benefits the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School. I sweated along with everyone else at Schenley Park to bring you the following gallery of postcards (of varying quality) from my trip:
An Alfa Romeo GTV and a Ford Lotus Cortina lead the Under 2.5 Litre class out of turn 15. Besides Monte Carlo, this is the only vintage race course that utilizes public roads. (As a matter of fact, Automobile Magazine West Coast editor Jason Cammisa used much of the twenty-two-turn, 2.3-mile track as his own personal drifting course while he was in college.)
A 1964 Fiat Abarth and a 1958 Austin-Healey Sprite staged an entertaining battle in the Under 1 Litre class race. Here the Bugeye chases the Abarth toward turn 14.
A 1962 Lotus 23B was the only fendered car I saw in the vintage sports racer class on Sunday. Here, the car approaches turn 13.
I trailered New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman’s newest acquisition, a peach/pink 1958 Ford Anglia 101E, to Pittsburgh behind a Ram 3500 dualie (more on that experience in a future blog). Before delivering the sweet Anglia to the garage of a Kitman relative, I parked it in the British section of the car show, where it was surrounded by MGs and Jaguars.
Porsche was the feature marque this year. Specialty Cars’ replica of a 1974 911, from the premiere season of the now-defunct IROC racing series, was probably my favorite.
This dazzling 1957 Morris Minor 1000 Traveler, which belongs to David Hennessey, represented its marque incredibly well.
This cool tool kit hides beneath the passenger seat of Thomas Vreeland’s 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III.
This gorgeous 1938 HRG coupe didn’t make it onto the track for the prerace parade, but it was a knockout nonetheless. It’s the only coupe ever built by HRG, a British company that managed to squeeze out a mere 241 vehicles between 1935 and 1956.
The PVGP show field featured a very wide variety of cars. Case in point: an Isuzu VehiCross and a customized Honda Civic. At least the Pittsburgh skyline is attractive …
The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile was on-hand, parked near a giant cow that loomed over the heaven-sent Turkey Hill tent, where spectators could cool off with a free sample of ice cream.
The owner of this Ferrari 330 had a very bad day.
Many Pittsburghers just happened upon the free-admission show, including a bicyclist who admired this 1969 Saab Sonett. Look closely: there’s a brand-new Mini Coupe in the background.
Paul Wegweiser’s 1972 BMW 2002tii caught my attention for its highly worn condition. Earlier this year, Paul pulled his Bimmer out of a Pennsylvania barn, where it had deteriorated since 1994. Since then, he’s gone through it mechanically, and he now drives it regularly and isn’t afraid to take it on long road trips. And he has no plans to clean it up cosmetically. Good for him!
Volkswagen owners love to travel!
American cars were outnumbered on the show field (even more so on the racetrack). Al Friend’s sharp 1964 Chevrolet Corvair—and its clever license plate—elicited many smiles, however.
I spent a lot of time talking to Robert Suhr, whose uncommon labor of love is this 1983 Dodge Omni. This car has fewer than 30,000 miles and has been cosmetically restored. I particularly loved it because it’s the same color as my parents’ 1985 Omni, the first new car I ever knew.
I told you this show had variety. Here’s a 1988 Zimmer Golden Spirit parked next to a Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe from the same year.
I saw this cherry 1960 Chevrolet Kingswood pull in from across the park and had to go in for a closer look.
A number of concours winners graced the Schenley Park grounds on Sunday. Here are the engine-bay vents of Sandy Bennett’s 1932 Franklin Model 163 ...
… and here’s the steering-wheel center of Phil Deakin’s 1950 Jeepster.
Suzuki was a highly visible sponsor—and also our generous host—at the event. The Kizashi Kicks Road Tour was a fairly popular attraction at the PVGP, which likely will be the only car-focused event that the tour will visit during its eight-event schedule this summer. Consumers had a chance to test-drive a Kizashi, an Audi A4, and a Hyundai Sonata on a nearby off-site autocross course as well as poke around sample models of the entire Suzuki lineup. Suzuki recently jettisoned a sizable chunk of its dealer network, but Pennsylvania apparently remains one of the brand’s best markets for car sales. Many other carmakers also had a solid presence at the PVGP—most notably Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Ford, Lotus, Mini, Porsche, Subaru, and Volkswagen—largely thanks to the efforts of local dealers.
I got a brief ride on the motorized sofa like that from the Suzuki commercial; unlike the furniture in the ad, this version is battery-powered. Suzuki’s “first all-electric vehicle” is honestly one of the most comfortable couches I’ve ever lounged on, although the seatbelts and central steering wheel complicate things a bit. Both roadholding and acceleration are good enough to send your beer bottle sliding off the edge of the integral coffee table.
I also had a chance to drive a Japanese-market Suzuki Wagon R on the autocross course. It’s not fast, but its small size makes it quite nimble, as you’d expect. Americans seem intrigued by cars like this, but our buying habits—and crash-safety and emissions standards—have made them irrelevant in our market. Perhaps new fuel-mileage standards will reshape the automotive landscape enough to make Suzuki—the top worldwide player in the microcar segment—bigger in the States.
At the PVGP, Suzuki also had a little-bitty Lapin on display. It went out on the racetrack during Sunday’s prerace parade, sandwiched between a Ferrari and a Mercedes-Benz.