Pampered and exotic cars gleamed under a cloak of gray fog, proving that nothing short of complete darkness can keep away fans and admirers. Classically sleek sports cars and antique automobiles do turn heads. Dream cars in a picturesque town like Pacific Grove? Lots of fun.
I photographed and looked at blocks and blocks of cars on display and thought about great cinematic scenes or stories with cars as key supporting characters. James Bond, Bonnie and Clyde, The Italian Job, Gone In Sixty Seconds, Christine - Hell On Wheels (an obvious favorite). All around me were iconic cars with close associations to movies and stories writers have used to link our imaginations to cars, journeys, and action. More than almost any other object in modern life, cars lend vivid and sometimes intense dimension to stories. Attending a car rally like I did today provides a gold mine of information and a unique way to do research on what can be a strong supporting character in a story or screenplay.
192 various and sundry highly polished beauties were parked but ready to roll this afternoon. Owners were happy to answer questions about their cars, talk about the modifications and restorations they'd completed to bring the car bodies and engines to mint condition. It really goes without saying that all of them are fanatics about the particular model they own and don't keep track of how much they invest in the process of restoration. One car owner went to the trouble of displaying before and after pictures of his project. He'd found a rusted pile of rodent-infested junk and restored it to full glory again, a beautiful old Corvette that now gleams with lustrous paint and beautiful interior work.
I talked to one gentleman, an owner of a replica Cobra painted in blue with white stripes, who said he takes his car out every week for drives on winding and twisting country roads wherever he can find them. His insurance is less than most people pay for an ordinary Ford, $400 a year. Another owner who was there with his wife in a '59 Corvette Stingray goes to rallys and car events all year long, and he said, "I have to keep an eye on her (his wife, who drives it) because if she's not careful, she can really lay down some rubber before you know it." He looked like he was having fun keeping an eye on her to me.
The cars roared to life at 6 PM, with engines low and throaty as well as harsh and loud. They set off one by one, made a quick loop through town, and then out to the coast for an hour-long tour of Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Carmel and then back to PG. The crowd cheered, whistled and clapped as the lineup rumbled out of town. Hard to know what comes first, good writing that features a car and garners new attention, or the car itself as iconic figure, but our culture recognizes these cars as very key elements in our lives, too important to ignore as elements of good storytelling.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way