June 28, 2006
Cars For The Stars
"We don't need a car. We have a car. Not one of those new things made of chromium and spit. It's an Isotta-Faschini." — Norma Desmond to Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard.
On June 9th and 10th, the annual Hamptons Auto Classic Show rolled into Bridgehampton and set up where they have the Hampton Classic Horse Show. It's a bit reminiscent of that, but a lot less smelly — and you don't have to constantly watch where you're walking. Dream machines lined up in neat rows with the rarefied specimens sheltered in white caterers' tents. This year's poster boy was there: a 1955 Mercedes Benz 300S Cabriolet in cinnabar red with a dark brown rag top. Me likey!
Also present was my favorite: a 1956 T-Bird with removable porthole top. It was a cream color, not quite white. Just perfect. I could see myself whizzing out to Montauk on a perfect summer day in that hot little car. Dinner and cocktails at Gurney's, then spending the night at Montauk Manor. Soon the owner pops up, curious about the mad queen drooling behind the wheel of his pet-mobile. We start to drone on, yakking about how much I admire his car, while he's hoping I'm an eccentric millionaire ready to write him a big fat check. When he tells me the asking price, my bubble doesn't just burst, it vaporizes. Come to think of it, I can barely afford the meal and the overnight in Montauk. Well, maybe if I have the chicken instead of the lobster . . .
There I am, standing among all those dream machines, designed for speed, and absorbing the total stillness of it all. The only motions are those of the owners and caretakers buffing & polishing away, looking skyward in fearful anticipation of — God forbid — rain. They're shoving business cards at the spectators who've passed the gold-watch-and-expensive-shoes-test. The auto hawkers keep craning their necks to see the vehicles the car buffs have arrived in and parked in an adjacent field. After all, if you arrive in a Bentley, you might just pick-up another toy, maybe even two.
One man's 50th birthday is just around the corner. The woman in the straw hat wants something with automatic transmission. A leathery tanned couple wants an old convertible down in Palm Beach next winter. The preppy guy graduates soon and needs a set of wheels — maybe a vintage Corvette. Or is that too White Trash? He sizes up the old Morgan Roadster in English Racing Green — a real chick magnet.
The cocktail party begins and freaky types covered with tattoos and sporting foot long goatees start checking out the big-finned American Land Yachts. (Those Cadillac convertibles from the 1950s!) The owners get a bit nervous. They're wondering whether these dudes and their Babes in Belly Shirts are the real McCoy or just out on a cheap date. Rock stars don't feel the need to clean up for anyone, you know. It's hard to pick them out of a crowd as high rollers.
At last, two perfect gay guys arrive in a spotless convertible BMW wearing khaki walking shorts, sinuous Polo shirts, pricey loafers (no socks) and gorgeous sunglasses. They're gym-toned and radiantly exfoliated. They shun the booze, grab a couple of Evians, and make a beeline for a mint condition 1976 Porsche. Black with tan interior. They hop right in and it fits like a glove.
First the blond gets behind the wheel and the brunette rides shotgun. Then they switch. They joke and whisper together as they cruise the little black beauty. Before the owner can slither over and start his rap, they summon him. The boyz shake hands, exchange a maximum of two sentences, hand the man a business card and without touching the ground they're back in the Beemer and rolling off. Next thing I know the first "SOLD" card appears in the windshield of the little Targa gem. I'm filled with such pride of species! They may not have a marriage license (yet), but baby, they have everything else. May they drive off into the sunset together, without ever looking back, and live stylishly ever after.