Every automotive event is always hiding something unexpected. Usually, I enjoy a laugh to myself when I come across one of these out-of-the box builds, but at Portland Transmission Warehouse’s Spring Classic there were far too many for me to not grab a few photos.
I’d like to think that I’ve seen my fair share of over-the-top and wild builds over the years, but I don’t think I’ve seen so many in one place at one time, each with such a high level of execution. It’s one thing to do something weird, but another altogether when you really dedicate yourself to it.
After all, if you’re gonna do it, you might as well do it right…
The wooden roadster dubbed Spud, which was complete with period-correct goggles and a four-cylinder Model A power-plant, was one of the first of many unexpected cars I came across.
A completely different take on applying the natural material to the exterior of an old Ford, the body lines have been subtly reworked to accommodate the woodwork, which is even applied to the supercharger and flathead engine.
Home-brewed land-speed cars, an early ’50s Ford pickup on air, or the wildest take on a Studebaker I’ve ever seen – the no-holds-barred way in which each of these cars were modified is what made them stand out to me. Certain builds were definitely more expected than others, but each one was unique in its own right.
The Portland Transmission show is certainly dedicated to American cars, but this doesn’t mean that it’s exclusive by any means. This Volvo with an American heart is the perfect example of a car which might not immediately seem to fit in here, yet stopped more people in their tracks than just about anything else at the show.
As with the picture-perfect, candy-clad muscle cars surrounding it, the level of execution was about as good as it gets.
I will say there wasn’t much in the way of Japanese cars, which was to be expected, but I did spot this first-gen Honda Accord rolling through for a look at what showed up.
Dwarfing the little Honda were a number of vastly oversized Mercedes-Benz trucks and other monstrous vehicles which seem to be really, really popular up here in the Pacific Northwest.
It probably has something to do with the vast landscape which consists largely of accessible trails and endless forest, as well as the fact that getting a plate on these cars is a much more simple affair than in California.
And of course, if you aren’t working five or so gear shifters, are you really even driving a Unimog?
Historics, But Different
Another group I noticed that had a strong showing at the Spring Classic were retired military vehicles that have been plated for street use.
For example, this utterly massive M561 6×6 Gama Goat straight from 1973.
The devil is in the details, and a truck like this is full of them. While completely restored to what seems to be era-correct specification, you can’t help but wonder what bits of history this M561 saw. Strangely, this 7,300lb hauler was actually amphibious, using its wheels for propulsion in the water.
From a genuine dog tag machine to an armed M1083 cargo truck even more massive than the Gama Goat to a literal boat on wheels — which is actually a restored ’44 GMC 5×6 DUKW — Portland Transmission Warehouse brought out the best and most diverse set of vehicles that I’ve ever seen assemble for a street meet.
Making my way back to our car to head home I couldn’t help but notice a clean Honda S2000 out for a Saturday morning cruise, parked just across from the closed-off streets in Southeast Portland.
A bit of perspective, helping to remind me that there are countless ways that a car can be special.
Trevor Yale Ryan
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