Rise and Drive Chicago, the June Edition Posted on 12 Jun 19:54
It is no secret I love these Rise and Drive meets. With the great Super Car Saturday meet proceeding it on the previous morning, there is no better one-two punch of car show/meet around. In May, Rise and Drive swelled to a crowd of epic proportions and crowded the lot. Truthfully, it was almost too busy, and the staff on hand looked much less relaxed and a bit frazzled at times. This month, things settled into the more typical strong but not overwhelming turn out. Many of the usual suspects on hand, but as always a healthy portion of new and unique appearances as well. Perhaps it is because it is in the city, but these meets tend to feel more like "home" to me, and there is a different sense of ease when I go to them. It becomes less an event to cover, and a gathering I can enjoy. Unfortunately, there is an expense involved, as I am certain I missed quite a few cars worth shooting and seeing on these pages. Frankly, I was guilty of too much chatting and not enough shooting. That is what this meet is about though, it becomes a much more social event than most of the others I have been too. Maybe it is the more intimate, smaller venue. It could be the natural bond of shared interest in cars. Perhaps it is the variety and diversity of cars and people on hand. Or is it the delicious coffee and donuts that Beaver's Donuts fuels the meet with? I could not begin to formulate a solid hypothesis, but even among strangers it feels you are among friends here. Somewhere between my yapping about other people's cars and scarfing down delicious little donuts, I managed to get a few photos. As always, here are a few of my favorite highlights below!
One highlight of Rise and Drive is a constant to all the meets, and that is the venue it takes place in, Collectors' Car Garage. It really is a fantastic facility that is kept in immaculate condition. Staying clean is no small feat considering it houses all manner of cars/bicycles/trucks, that can be prone to making an oily and dirty mess. Here it is though, you see the reflection in the glass-like epoxied floors, pristine despite all the heavy car and foot traffic. Inside there is always a nice mix of cars on display, and they are arranged in a way that makes for great photos with ease. The frame is filled with delicious nuggets of automobilia no matter where you turn. In addition, what you do not see in the photos, is the vast collection of vehicles just beyond the proverbial velvet rope. Owner privacy dictates we not photograph those vehicles, but on site, in person, you can gaze all you like. What you will find beyond, are all manner of rarities; a BMW M1, a Lamborghini LM002, a pristine Ford RS200, and the super obscure Isdera Imperator (I admit, I had no idea what it was). It is this added element of automotive museum, that makes this location for a typical car meet, not so typical. Keep scrolling for more shots inside, and additional highlights to follow.
Another highlight was the Montego Blue FD RX-7 pictured below. It made an appearance last month, in what turns out was the first time the owner came out to a Rise and Drive. I chatted a bit with the owner, Fred, who had lamented it's dirty state the previous meet but seemed to make up for it this month by having it incredibly clean. The FD RX-7 is a car that is easy to screw up both mechanically and aesthetically if you aren't careful. This is something Fred seems to be aware of, as he has kept things subtle in both regards. The design of the FD is still as awe inspiring today as it was 25 years ago, it has not aged a bit. It requires no sullying with body kits, or over the top aero for style points in order to remain relevant in the modern car landscape. Other than a quality set of Advan wheels, and a lowered suspension, the look is as stock as can be, and it is none the lesser for it. Even mechanically, Fred has resisted the urge to dump the factory twin turbo's in favor of a single, larger unit. Instead opting for factory twin turbo's from the later 99 spec models, it improves performance but does not stray far from it's original design. I genuinely admire this kind of approach to staying doggedly true to the car's original spirit, and by virtue of that alone this FD stands out a bit from the rest.
My third highlight of the show, listed in no particular order, was this mk2 VW Golf GTI. The second generation of the godfather of 'hot hatches' is one of those cars that, at least around here, you realize "hey, I don't actually see these around very often". It is also a car that has aged well, but not in the same vein as the FD RX-7. Where the FD blends into modern aero design with it's sumptuous curves, the GTI wears it's obviously antiquated boxy design like a badge of honor. Like an aged rocker, sporting long flowing locks of silver hair and leather pants inappropriately tight for his age, this thing is cool when it defies logic that it should be. Fun as hell to drive I reckon as well.
Speaking of fun to drive, this first generation Toyota MR2 would seem to enthusiastically fill that order as well. A common refrain that is uttered by many in the automotive press, is the old adage that Japanese made cars somehow lack "soul" or "personality". It seems to me, it is an adage that needs to be extinguished, as it seems more rooted in trying to excuse shortcomings of the traditionally prestigious brands, or worse outright xenophobia/racist sentiments. Looking at this MR2, I see just as much personality oozing from it's boxy fenders and the numerous vents that pepper it's rear half. It is every bit as pretty to look at as a Lotus Esprit, and the similarities are fairly undeniable from certain angles. And flip up headlights...come on, what's more fun than flip up headlights? This particular MR2 was an imported, right hand drive model, emblazoned with stickers that denote the Nurburgring and Philip Island Grand Prix, which make this quite the intriguing little car. I wanted desperately to know the back story on it, was this some well traveled and well used little machine or simply an homage to racing history? Sadly, I was unable to catch up to the owner to find out, but I am hoping to see it again in the future!
It seems a bit cliche, but it is just truth that few cars have as much head turning presence as a Ferrari. If you doubt that, there is photographic evidence below. The Ferrari 355 Spyder that showed later in the morning, is just as much a head turner today, as it was nearly 20 years ago when it was new. You would be hard pressed to find a more perfect, top-down cruiser for a sunny Chicago weekend, and the look of joy on the owner's face as he hopped out to greet friends spoke volumes.
There was plenty more worth seeing, but again I was guilty of too much socializing and not enough shooting. I'll have to work on being better at balancing the two for next month. Here are a few more looks from the weekend, happy scrolling and thanks for stopping by!
-photos and writing: Robert Sixto