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Robert McLeese, founder and chair, left, at the inaugural Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance last year with master of ceremonies F. Edward Lucas II. (CONCOURS IMAGES)
Robert McLeese, founder and chair, left, at the inaugural Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance last year with master of ceremonies F. Edward Lucas II. (CONCOURS IMAGES)

CLASSIC CARS

Summer car shows you can't miss Add to ...

It’s never just the classic car. Seeing any old car that looks like new triggers memories and emotions. The kidney-chilling low-cut doors on that Triumph TR3, for example, attract the eye and then they set you to thinking. You drove an old one between parties that summer in Muskoka. Neil Young had a full head of hair then. So did you.

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More cars, more mojo. Crowds show up to see how the classics look, how they run, at weekly cruises, major shows and concours under way now and running through to the next ice age. Reactions are highly personal.

And it’s not only nostalgia. Younger eyes, caught by a tail fin or strip of chrome, think for the first time their grandparents might have been cool. A field full of Model Ts – such as at Odessa, just west of Kingston, June 14 – might even prompt today’s pensioners to consider life before their time.

A sampling of essential events follows. Important to note, local cruises operate almost everywhere; Mustang 50th anniversary gatherings are huge, none more so than at Ford of Canada headquarters July 26-27; special interest shows are worth searching out on the Web: Rambler-Rama, for example, June 21 at Haugens Chicken and BBQ, Highway 12 at 7A, showcasing the cars George Romney, Mitt’s dad, failed to sell in adequate numbers while running American Motors, along with Nash, Hudson and Jeep and later AMC models like Hornet and AMX.

Canadian Historic Grand Prix

June 13-15

Admission: Advance tickets are $30 for the weekend, $35 at the gate, $20 on Sunday.

More than 200 vintage and historic race cars fill the entry list – from a tiny, 55-year-old Fiat-Abarth 750 to big booming Can-Am-era machinery – at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. But hundreds of spectators’ cars, parked not only in the Field of Dreams but all around the track, await inspection.

Triumph and MG sports cars are featured, with more than 60 expected on the grid for the first race after lunch Sunday. Bob Tullius, long-time American champion of British cars, is grand marshal, with two of his Group 44 entries including the TR-6 raced by Paul Newman.

Yorkville Exotic Car Show

June 15

Admission: Free

Taking the subway to a free extravaganza of 120 eye-popping automobiles ... what a way to spend Father’s Day.

The Mink Mile, Bloor between Bay and Avenue Road, closes to make way for 12 “corrals” or groupings of 10 cars apiece, from noon to 5 p.m. The 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang gets one corral; the Super Car and Lamborghini showcases are new this year.

The Lambo Aventador SR, specially modified by SR Auto Group in Vancouver, should attract the densest crowds. Although there’s no admission charge, $40,000 was donated to Prostate Cancer Canada last year from fees paid by cars’ sponsors.

Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Sept. 13-14

Admission: $30 for adults, $25 children, $85 for parents and two children.

Cobble Beach, on Georgian Bay, emulates Pebble Beach, overlooking the Pacific, with classics of international stature arrayed on the 18th fairway. That a lecture on European coach-building with emphasis on Russian émigré Jacques Saoutchik in prewar France is a highlight on Saturday’s schedule indicates how very serious co-creator Rob McLeese is in developing the event’s standing.

That entrants are encouraged to drive their classics on a tour with stops at Owen Sound’s Harrison Park to watch salmon spawning, before stopping for ice cream, tells you how much room remains for fun.

A Canadian steam car built in 1867 by a Quebec jeweller, the Seth-Taylor, documents early Canadian innovation, as does the 1914 Galt Gas-Electric hybrid from Oshawa’s Canadian Automotive Museum.

British Car Day

Sept. 21

Admission: $16 per car

Dave Sims remembers the first gathering in 1983 as a picnic for Brit car owners with 50 showing up. More recently, 8,000 spectators viewed 1,000 cars. Arrive early – that is, soon after the Bronte Provincial Park gates open at 10 a.m. – to avoid long midday lineups.

Serendipitously, 2014 marks significant anniversaries for eight different cars, four of which will be parked on Sponsors’ Street: Triumph TR-7, which made its debut 40 years ago; Sunbeam Tiger, marking its 50th; and Austin Westminster and Jaguar XK-140, their 60th.

Austin 1800 and Triumph 2000TC anniversaries aren’t featured, but may well be among the 1,000 cars displayed by marque. You never know what will turn up. Bronte is the largest British car show in North America.

Ottawa’s unrelated All British Car Day, at Britannia Beach, this year features MGA on July 19. It’s hoped MG enthusiasts who have driven from Victoria to Ottawa July 4-18 will join in.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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