May 10, 2012 | By Tom Surber
Celebration of Automobiles: Every Car Tells A Story
An impressive variety of 200 beautiful, rare cars from 1920-70 once again will be the focal point of the 2012 Celebration of Automobiles on Saturday, May 12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Other interesting cars also will be on display, and every car has a story. An inside look at some Celebration of Automobiles vehicles that fans can enjoy seeing on Opening Day for the 96th Indianapolis 500:
An award-winning 1937 Railton 4-door Saloon Rippon Brothers Limousine owned by Eldon Hostetler of Middlebury, Ind., will appear at the second annual Celebration of Automobiles.
Hostetler’s magnificent Railton limo was named the winner of the European Classic Pre-War (1936-38) class March 11 at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida, which is one the premier events of its kind in the world. In addition, Hostetler’s Railton earned the highly sought 100-point designation based on the strenuous judging criteria of the Classic Car Club of America at the 2011 Glenmoor Gathering in Canton, Ohio.
The Hudson Motor Car Company began manufacturing Hudson and other brand name automobiles in 1909 in Detroit. In the 1930s, land speed record car designer Reed Railton was hired as a consultant for the Hudson chassis conversion project.
Hostetler’s one-of-a-kind Railton was built to the exact specifications of Sir Reginald Rippon of the Yorkshire Rippon Bros. Company that produced coaches for Rolls Royce and other manufacturers. Built for Rippon’s personal use, the car has a 139-inch wheelbase and is 214 inches long.
Unique features of the car include two sliding roof panels and an inlaid walnut cabinet in the rear compartment that folds down to become a table. The space contains a silver-plated cognac flask, a corkscrew, a chocolate box, a matchbox, and cigarette and cigar boxes.
On permanent display at Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana, Ind., home of the world’s largest collection of Hudson automobiles, the Railton was purchased by Hostetler from a fellow member of the Hudson Car Club.
Hostetler’s son JR is the curator and the mechanic at the Hostetler’s Hudson Auto Museum, and he says there are many impressive characteristics about their Railton Limo.
“It has so many neat features,” JR Hostetler said. “It has driver controlled hydraulic suspension, and you can make it softer or stiffer depending on the road conditions or how much weight you’re carrying. It has built-in scissor jacks that you can raise up and change tires without sticking a jack underneath and worrying about a flat spot and worrying about it falling. It has a custom-made shelf for all your tools in the back, and it has a slot for light bulbs, points and condensers to replace if you have a problem, and it has an emergency first-aid kit.
“Rippon was an English gentleman who owned an estate, and the car had a secret compartment that he could carry his hunting rifles with him. There were all kinds of neat features that he had told his employees to put in his car, and there was never a mention of cost. It was the car he wanted. He told his guys to build it, and they built it.”
1957 Buick Roadmaster 75
A 1957 Buick Roadmaster 75 owned by Michael Gale of Greenwood, Ind., will appear at the second annual Celebration of Automobiles.
Buick was in the middle of a sales slump when it introduced the Roadmaster 75 at the start of 1957. The car was 10 inches longer than the previous year’s edition and offered a dazzling array of features for the time, including air conditioning, a six-way power front seat, power brakes, power steering, power windows, a pushbutton AM radio and a dash-mounted clock.
Gale’s four-door hardtop Roadmaster has been in his family since 1975, when his uncle, Rev. Paul Ingram, bought it from its original owner, G.B. Tuley, who purchased the car in 1957 in Burlington, Kan. Ingram sold it to Gale’s father, Jack, for $4,000 in 1978, and the two enjoyed working together on the car on numerous occasions. In compliance with Jack’s wishes, the car was handed down to Michael Gale when his father died Nov. 22, 2010.
It’s natural for Gale to feel sentimental about a car that has been in his family for nearly 40 years, but he cherishes it for other reasons, too.
“The 75 Series has all the bells and whistles that a car had of that day,” Gale said. “The interior of this vehicle is 100 percent original. The driver seat has a few tears, and it’s basically wearing thin, and I am in the process of attempting to have that reupholstered with the original material, and it’s an exact match to the material that I have.”
Gale reports the Buick Club of America indicates there are 19 1957 Buick Roadmaster 75’s still in existence, and he believes no more than a few of them can equal the condition of his car. While the inside of Gale’s Roadmaster will receive an upgrade in the near future, the car’s exterior is in great shape.
“The exterior of the vehicle was repainted with a very good paint job that my father had done back in the 80s,” Gale said. “We also took the chrome off the front and back bumpers and had all that re-chromed back in the 80s. The car had not been touched, as far as any type of restoration, for the last 20, almost 30 years. The one thing that I have done since I’ve owned it in the last year and a half is I put back the original exhaust system on the car. My father, back in the 80s, had taken it to Midas and had a new exhaust put on it, and they just slapped a standard exhaust on it. I went back in and put an all-new original style exhaust on it. It was an after-market, but it was an after-market original.”
Gale’s car has 66,000 miles on it, and he makes sure to drive it at least once a month. He’s also discovered that his Roadmaster can contribute greatly to his career as a licensed real estate agent.
“I put my little real estate signs on the side of it and go to my open houses and show client homes by me driving my Buick around, and they really enjoy it,” he said. “Let’s put it this way: I get more people remembering my open houses when I have them because they drive up and go, ‘Am I hear to look at the house or the car?’”
A new addition to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Celebration of Automobiles will feature a collection of 46 DeLorean automobiles from all over the country that will include the first-ever electric-powered version of one of the most noteworthy cars of the early 1980s.
The Indiana DeLorean Club invited owners from around the country to come to IMS for a gathering that will produce one of the largest collections of DeLoreans this year in the United States.
A pop culture icon that debuted in 1981, the DeLorean remains as recognizable as ever from its gull-wing doors, to its stainless steel body and rear-mounted engine that has appeared in countless movies, video games and television shows. It’s perhaps best known for appearing as an improbable time machine in the highly successful “Back to the Future” feature-film trilogy.
The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) produced 9,000 cars before going out of business in 1983. Although no new DeLoreans are being made, the existing cars remain popular with automobile aficionados, and many are well maintained through a company in Humble, Texas, that purchased the original manufacturer’s name. In 1995, the new DMC began providing parts, accessories and merchandise to customers around the world. The company also assembles cars to order featuring parts or designs from the original DeLorean car, with modern engine and suspension technology.
On October 14, 2011, DMC and Epic Electric Vehicles (EEV) unveiled its initial development version of an electric powered DeLorean at the International DeLorean Owners event in Houston. That first-ever electric DeLorean will appear at the Automobile Festival on May 12 at IMS, in addition to a recently produced twin-turbo DeLorean. DMC and EEV plan to market the electric DeLorean in 2013 and will continue to develop prototypes combining the existing DeLorean car with the EEV electric powertrain.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Jason Sharkey, Indiana DeLorean Club president. “The DeLoreans are a really unique vehicle that everybody seems to recognize. We take our cars to car shows pretty much constantly, and everybody knows what they are.”
While DeLorean owners relish making their cars available to adoring fans at events in their respective areas of the country, the opportunity to showcase their prized DeLoreans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something many could not resist.
“This is the headquarters for automobiles around the world, and when we put out the notice for this, I couldn’t believe the response that we got,” said Sharkey. “These cars are coming from all over the country just to be a part of this.”
The Celebration of Automobiles takes place from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Opening Day for the 96th Indianapolis 500, with the new IZOD IndyCar Series car also making its IMS competitive on-track debut. All activities are included in public gate admission of $10, with children 12 and under admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
All three components of the Celebration of Automobiles offer intriguing sights and sounds for car fans of all ages:
Vintage and Historic Car Show: This year’s show will feature 200 vehicles from 1920-70 produced by manufacturers participating in the Indianapolis 500 during that era and other manufacturers. Vehicles on display around the Pagoda Plaza area will include winners from prestigious Concours competitions at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. A panel of judges, including classic/vintage car experts, past Indianapolis 500 winners and other auto racing legends, will evaluate each car in an automotive beauty competition.
Emerging Tech Showcase: This event features many activities showing the future of automotive sustainability including the Purdue Collegiate evGrand Prix featuring many teams of students from colleges and universities across the United States competing in electric-powered karts on a course near the IMS Hall of Fame Museum. In addition, owners of electric-powered passenger cars can participate in the EV Rally, which includes driving their cars on a lap around the famous IMS oval, and manufacturers of electric-powered cars will offer Ride and Drive opportunities for consumers interested in taking these unique vehicles for a spin at IMS.
Automobile Festival: This exciting new segment of the Celebration of Automobiles will feature current and late model vehicles on display in manufacturer- and model-specific groups inside Turn 4 of the famous IMS oval. American sports, muscle and pony car models on display will include Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. Foreign cars will include models from BMW, Porsche, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Jaguar and more.
Rare, exotic and unique marques and models also will take center stage, including DeLorean and Mini.
For more information on the 2012 Celebration of Automobiles, visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/celebrationofautomobiles.