Kings of the road

Aug 16, 2000 at 12:00 am

The wind in your hair, the blue sky above and all the freeway you’ll ever want stretching out like a waiting lover in front of you. Get yourself a campy dose of Thelma and Louise and pack a little suitcase, because the road trip has never been this enticing, never been so filled with promise. Put the top down, grab your favorite passenger (or find one along the way) and ride like you’ve got no place special to go and all your life to get there.

Warp speed along Route 66, and there you are, time-traveled back to a world where getting where you’re going matters less than getting there in style. In the ’50s and ’60s, it was all about horses under the hood and looking good on four wheels. Still is, but nobody, nobody, can do it the way it used to be.

High noon, and you take an early break at the Holiday Inn, Anytown USA, the traveler’s home away from home. In this case, it’s Troy, Mich., the gateway to America’s vacation paradise. Perfect spot to check the map, plan the next day’s drive up north for some clear, clean air.

But wait, what’s this? Cars shining like jewels in the parking lot, dripping like sucked candies. Yummy.

Gas-guzzlers, highway yachts, full-finned wonders of Detroit iron: They’re all here, gleaming in their glory days. A red ’61 Thunderbird. A ’47 Lincoln Continental. Cadillacs, all chrome and fins and sharp lines like chiseled cheekbones. A tangerine-orange 1955 Caddy with a guy in front who’ll break your heart before dinner if you think he’s going to go for a ride with you.

And the other drivers, too — we’re not in Kansas anymore, and this isn’t your typical family vacation paradise. No nuclear-fueled Wards and Junes here — this is the chosen family. The Lambda Car Club is having its annual get-together. Beautiful men in shorts and T-shirts, gorgeous guys in even less. Friendly fellows shining cars, buffing bodies, polishing mirrors. Check your teeth in the nearest rearview for traces of that last drive-in burger — this could be a very pleasant afternoon of eye-candy indeed.

These cream puffs won’t last at these prices! Today’s bargains on yesterday’s treasures — drive home tomorrow in the car of your nostalgic dreams! Sure, they have high mileage, but oh, what a wonderful journey it’s been. Owner not included, but if you ask nicely, he might take you for a ride. Too bad it’s all make believe, and these V-8, mint-condition hot rods will be going home to their own familiar garages after all.

All you can do is pack your car, fuel up and hit the road again. Put the top down. Let the music play. Sail out over a landscape where your heart can really be free.

Photographs: Angie Baan

Styling: Members of the Lambda International Car Club

Location: Troy Holiday Inn parking lot, Troy

Alisa Gordaneer is MT features editor. E-mail [email protected]