This weekend my wife and I attended our very first World of Wheels, a popular car show that holds court in numerous North American cities every year. Friends who know us well questioned this choice at first because they know cars aren’t our thing. When we told them our primary motive, they understood and stopped looking at us funny.
Strangers tend to assume I know cars because I’m male. This is incorrect. I’m not one for knowing makes and models on sight, how to disassemble and reassemble engines, how to change my oil, which olde-tyme cars are the most awesome, which parts are which, why anyone should spend more than fifteen grand on one, or why anyone should run out to buy a new car the exact millisecond they pay off their existing car loan. To me cars can be pretty in the same way that flowers can be pretty, and my familiarity both is largely, equally superficial.
But we had our reasons for giving it a go, for trying something new, and for approaching this great big car show as we would any given comic convention: because my wife is as big a fan of classic TV as she is of Star Wars and Star Trek, and they had two special guests she was rarin’ to meet.
Thankfully we were able to blend in with the automotive aficionados and enjoy browsing the shiny mean machines and walking for exercise. No one spotted us as out-of-place fake car geeks or asked us to name three Edsel models. There was a moment of disorientation when I saw a quartet of teens sporting anime hats and gear along with their World of Wheels merchandise, a solid reminder that sometimes tastes and preferences can go cross-sectional, and not all Venn diagrams of assorted fandoms are isolated, untouching circles.
Before I ramble further, please enjoy a selection of wheeled wonders and whatnot. We took notes on most of the names for those among you keen on such facts. I’ll admit up front some disappointment in being unable to locate a single classic car that matched any of the specimens from L.A. Noire, which was quite on my mind as we strolled the aisles and marveled how many thousands of hours of work were put into some of these beauts.
As with our usual conventions and the other shows we’ve attended like this one at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, a series of booths (some off-topic) had other items for sale — jerky, fudge, Hot Wheels, automotive accessories, liquids, sealants, gutter covers, and so on.
Beyond the cars was our feature presentation, the show’s special guests — a pair of stars from TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard, one of those staples from our childhood. Today’s internet says we’re supposed to hate the show and burn all traces of its existence because the General Lee had a Confederate flag on top and literally no other reason that we understand, unless that reason is knee-jerk contempt on the superficial level of “eww, Southerners, ick bleah ugh.” Here in a red state in The North, everyday life and history are a bit more nuanced than that, as was the consensus among the congenial Hoosiers with whom we spent over five hours in two Saturday afternoon autograph lines.
Guest #1: Tom Wopat! a.k.a. Luke Duke himself, he of the stunt-drivin’ Duke brothers what won CBS Friday nights for quite a few years. You might also remember him from such films as Django Unchained and a few episodes of Longmire. Anne previously met his castmate John “Bo Duke” Schneider at Wizard World Chicago 2010. Anne was grateful for World of Wheels providing her the chance to have a matching set.
Guest #2: Catherine Bach! To today’s ragamuffins the name “Daisy Duke” brings to mind the famous short-shorts and nothing else. Once upon a time that name meant more to a generation of girls surprised to see a female hero on TV who could hold her own in a fight and wasn’t confined to staying home and fretting about the dudes’ safety. To a young Anne, Daisy Duke and Princess Leia came along close to the same time and were made of the same stern, no-nonsense stuff. Anne imitated neither of their distinctive fashions, but she grew up with their kind of gumption.
Their presence was made possible thanks to Cooter’s Place, the premiere Dukes of Hazzard merchandise stores located in Nashville and Gatlinburg, both owned by Congressman Ben Jones, better known as TV’s Cooter from The Dukes of Hazzard. Longtime MCC readers may recall we paid a visit to the Nashville location near the end of our 2015 road trip.
The show’s “Hollywood Legends” section also boasted three cars of super-special pop culture note, but nothing we hadn’t seen before. You can check out other MCC entries for our previous encounters with:
* Of course the ol’ General Lee itself, at Indy Pop Con a year before our stop at Cooter’s Place.
* Optimus Prime, which pulled in to last year’s Cincinnati Comic Expo
* The ECTO-1, which is basically everywhere we go as recreated by one Ghostbusters fan group or another. You can check out a simple shot from Wizard World Chicago 2012, or that time at C2E2 2014 with special guest Ernie Hudson.
In closing, please enjoy more photos of things with wheels on them, not all of them street cars, hot rods, or family sedans. As with people and politics, vehicles come in all shapes, sizes, colors, intents, and levels of diligence and imagination. Enjoy! No idea if we’ll do World of Wheels again, but it was fun to try something different beyond our usual bailiwick.