Salisbury Automobile Classic – Des Moines, Iowa


Salisbury Automobile Classic - Des Moines, Iowa.jpgSalisbury Automobile Classic – Des Moines, Iowa

We see cars everyday, cars on the interstate, cars in the parking lot and cars in the drive-thru. So what’s so special about going to see cars on one particular weekend? What’s so special about being up close to a 1935 Cadillac, 1934 Auburn or a 1933 Packard?  Maybe it’s the fact that these automobiles are considered classics.  Maybe it’s the fact that someone is so passionate about these vehicles that they use their time and money to ensure it stays in top condition as long as possible.  Maybe it’s the fact that you’re viewing these cars on the grounds and in the gardens of a historic mansion built around the same time the cars were.  The fact of the matter is it’s probably a combination of all three that makes the Salisbury Automobile Classic so special.

 Every year in September, since the year 2000, about 100 antique and classic cars have been displayed throughout the majestic grounds of the Salisbury House.  Thousands of spectators, each year, enjoy the sights and sounds of these vehicles and their owners, who are encouraged to arrive in period clothing.  Many do appear in period clothing, because of their passion and excitement about being selected for the show.

 Exhibitors must apply to attend this show and a committee sifts through the applications and pictures, trying to select the best automobiles for the show.  So far, spectators at the Classic have yet to be disappointed.

  In 2007 the Salisbury Automobile Classic saw the arrival of four multi-million dollar vehicles.  Three on loan from the General Motors Heritage Museum and the infamous GM Futurliner Bus, made famous by the GM Parade of Progress in the early 1950’s.  Much to the delight of automotive enthusiasts, the three cars on loan from GM were the sleek 1938 Buick Y-Job, the futuristic 1951 LeSabre concept and the stunning 1953 Cadillac LeMans concept.  These four vehicles, three from the legendary GM designer Harley Earl, were the crown jewel in the 8th Annual Salisbury Automobile Classic.  Rarely do these vehicles leave the museum, and rarely have they been seen together with the Futurliner since the early 1950’s, when they toured North America together.  It was a great tie in to the show’s Designs of Harley Earl theme.

 Each year the show’s committee chooses a theme to build the show around.  For example, the 100th Anniversary of General Motors and the designs of William “Billy” Durant, GM’s founder, was an obvious choice for the 2008 show.  Of course, not every vehicle can fit the theme, so there still remain a variety of vehicles for spectators to enjoy and marvel at.  While spectators outside the house marvel at the beautiful cars, spectators inside the house marvel at the beauty of the house. 

There’s plenty to see at the Salisbury House itself.  Completed in 1928 by Carl Weeks and his wife Edith, this 42-room mansion was always intended to be a museum.  With nearly 10,000 historical artifacts, including a pot from around 550 B.C.E. and documents signed by the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and John Hancock.  Collected by the Weeks from around the world, these fascinating artifacts open an entire world of history to visitors.  But it’s not just what the house has in it that’s of historical significance, what the house is built with is actually some of the most historically significant artifacts.  In the main entry, the rafters in the ceiling came from an inn in England where it was known that Shakespeare and his troupe had performed.  One can only assume that while we stare up at them today, they once stared down at Hamlet, Othello or maybe even Romeo and Juliet. 

Whether it’s the historical value of these cars, the passion of their owners or the beauty of the Salisbury House, it has been a special event for Des Moines each year and will continue to be for years to come.

For more information call: 515-274-1777

Location: 4025 Tonawanda Dr., Des Moines, Iowa 50312

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