Where Cars are Stars
Greased Lightning, Herbie the Love Bug and the new Ghostbusters car top the bill at this year’s Culver City Car Show
By Evan Henerson
Rev up your engines and buff up your chassis, Culver City! Nearly 500 hot rods, muscle cars and classic rides are about to hit the streets Saturday as part of the annual Culver City Car Show (CCCS).
Or perhaps we should say “lights, camera, action!” For CCCS’s 13th annual edition Saturday, event organizers from the Exchange Club of Culver City will focus on the city’s cinematic automotive history. A selection of celebrated cars from well known movies will be on hand courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum, the CCCS’s principal co-sponsor.
Vehicles from the Petersen collection scheduled to appear include the souped-up 1961 Volkswagen Beetle “Herbie” from Disney’s “Love Bug” films, Speed Racer’s Mach 5, a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom Town Car once owned by Fred Astaire, and a 1941 Cadillac that had been a present from Clark Gable to his wife Carole Lombard. Sony Pictures will lend the car from the upcoming “Ghostbusters” reboot and a vehicle from the series “The Goldbergs.”
In the spirit of the city’s rich racing history, the Petersen will also bring a 1946 Ford Convertible better known – from its role in the 1978 film “Grease” – as “Grease Lightning.” Grease Lightning was the work of legendary car customizer and longtime CCCS patron George Barris, who died last year. Barris’s family members will attend Saturday’s show, which will also give friends the opportunity to pay tribute to Barris.
“We can’t really move forward without acknowledging the importance of our past,” said John Cohn, president elect of the Exchange Club of Culver City as well as the show’s organizer and emcee. “George was the heart and soul of this car show and it’s only fitting and proper that we honor him in any way we can.”
In addition to the salute to movie wheels, the show will pay tribute to Culver City’s racing past. In the 1920s, Culver City was home to two racing tracks and regularly held races on the American Automobile Association (AAA) circuit, drawing as many as 70,000 spectators.
Several automotive related individuals and businesses have called Culver City home, including Corvette racer Dick Guldstrand, who located his Guldstrand Engineering in the city. According to research conducted by Kevin Triplett for the Culver City Historical Society, the 11000 block of West Jefferson Boulevard contained so many racing related businesses that it carried the nickname Thunder Alley. Legendary racer and actor Barney Oldfield is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.
The city’s tracks may be gone, but CCCS participants can still vie for honors that include the coveted Best in Show. Michael Hammer, grandson of industrialist Armand Hammer, will be the 2016 show’s grand marshal. Hammer, who owns one of the largest private automobile collections on the west coast, is expected to bring a selection of his vehicles as well.
The event will also feature food, vendors and live entertainment from The Red Surf Band, Luis and the Wildfires, and Lynda Kay.
“It’s a giant street party,” says Cohn. “Every one of the businesses in Culver City will be open. Bars, restaurants and cafes will be filled to the gills.”
The Culver City Car Show happens from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Culver and Washington boulevards between Duquesne Avenue and Ince Boulevard. Proceeds benefit charities supported by the Exchange Club of Culver City. Visit culvercitycarshow.com.