I was in my element. The earthy smell of gasoline and motor oil mixed with the heady odors of coconut suntan oil and frothy beer. The occasion was the fourth annual Chesapeake Bay Motoring Festival held June 10 and 11 on the grounds of the picturesque Kent Island Yacht Club in Chester, MD.
Although not as grand a show as the forthcoming St. Michaels Antique and Classic Boat Festival slated for Father’s Day weekend, this little gathering of near-perfect water and land craft more than whet my appetite for the days of open touring down country roads or deep-throated inboards powering up for a run down the Bay.
Here, displayed like so many steel and fiberglass works of art were some of the thoroughbreds of our motoring and boating past. Classic Hacker-Craft and Chris-Craft shared the stage with vintage Packards and Thunderbirds. Hovering close to each spotless entry was a proud owner who was only too willing to display a photo book of the “before's and after's” of their restored babies. “I couldn’t tell you the hours or dollars I’ve spent on what my wife calls my ‘addiction’, but suffice it to say it’s cost me more to keep this little beauty running than I spent on my first house,” one owner confessed.
As the owner of a now-in-the-shop 1956 MGA, and two vintage watercraft both, at the present time, in the water and running fine, I could sympathize with his monetary plight. My wife puts up with my old boat and car obsession because, as she says, “you’re not getting any younger… it’s easier to spend the money on a rebuilt transmission than to get you in the shop for a head-to-toe overhaul.”
Each of the vehicles was a classic in its own right. I can’t imagine coming to a show like this in 30 years and oohing and aahing over the boxy lines of my current ride, a 2021 Jeep Cherokee.
The golden era of many of the nameplates on display has long come and gone. What will be the heritage of the cars of this generation? And who will pick up the mantle of the devotees who spend their lives bringing old boats and cars back to life?
Who knows what the future will bring. As I left the show after oogling cars for two hours, I passed a brand new $250,000 Aston Martin SUV In the parking lot. Whooee. How far James Bond has fallen!
For more antique and classic boat fun be sure to attend the Antique and Classic Boat Festival at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD, June 16-18. For more photos from the event, visit the author's Smugmug page.
Photos and Story by Craig Ligibel