From bucolic Riverside Park in Ypsilanti, Michigan, presenting one of our favorite collector car events of the season: the annual Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show. Here’s our report with a big photo gallery.
In the collector car world, what’s an “orphan,” anyway? Naturally, the label first applies to any discontinued make: Hudson, Studebaker, Kaiser-Frazer, Packard—the virtually endless list of defunct automobile manufacturers, from the popular to the obscure. But from there the concept is somewhat elastic, as the organizers of the Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show see it, and that makes for an entertaining and informative event.
Here an orphan can also be a discontinued brand or division from the current Detroit automakers: for example, DeSoto, Edsel, Imperial; more recently Plymouth and Pontiac. (Individual examples must be manufactured no later than 1991.) The Orphan Car Show folks also take in the former Canadian brands of the Motor City manufacturers (Monarch, Fargo, etc.) as well as foreign brands that are no longer imported to the USA—Citroen, Renault, and so on. Corvairs are included, too, partly because they’re local favorites, manufactured just down the road in the big plant at Willow Run, partly because they’re the red-headed stepchildren of the automotive world. At the Orphan Show they have a home.
This year’s featured vehicle was Tucker, the star-crossed creation of Ypsilanti’s own Preston Tucker. (Tucker’s former home and machine shop are only two blocks from the park—see it here.) Unfortunately, MCG became distracted by his other duties at the show, including narrating the vehicle pass-in-review, which was both tremendous fun and a great honor. But as a result we don’t have any photos to share of the three stellar Tucker automobiles on display, and we missed a number of other choice photo opportunities as well. Our apologies.
But anyway, that’s the long and the short of the orphan concept. If it’s rare or different and they don’t make them anymore, there’s a good chance it’s in the show. The Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show has been described as something like the island of misfit toys, but for automobiles. This is the event for vehicles that don’t fit any of the traditional pigeonholes, and The New York Times, among others, has named it one of top shows of its kind in America. Check out the gallery below—click on any image to begin a slide show.