From the outside, Portland, OR may not seem like a big car town. What most people see here are a mass of bicycle commuters and greenies driving hybrids on the highway at under the posted speed limit. But all that changes when the annual spring rains let up. Nothing really rusts here, so there's a large underground of classics, hot rods, and muscle cars in this town. And all it takes is a few days of sunshine to draw them out.
Case in point - this year's Portland Transmission Spring Classic show on May 12. This year was the 30th anniversary of the event, which takes place each year on the Saturday before Mother's Day from about 5am until 11am at Portland Transmission's warehouse and the surrounding area. ACC Ad Sales Exec Jeff Brinkley, Data Analyst Chad Tyson and I couldn't resist going, as the event is only a few blocks from ACC's HQ.
We took our 1964 Chevy Nova wagon and 1963 Dodge 440 drag car - and we ended up being two of about 1,000 cars to show up. The show is free, and getting there before the sun comes up is worth it, as the sheer number of cars expands the event out about five city blocks in every direction by breakfast time.
We were joined later in the morning by ACC Contributor Jay Harden in his big-block ’69 Chevelle, as well as Publisher Martin, who spoke at the awards ceremony. Everything from vintage pre-war hot rod Fords (complete with pre-war speed parts) to gassers and military vehicles were on hand. There was even a WWII-era M18 Tank Destroyer in the mix. When's the last time you saw one of those on a city street? It was said to be fully functional, too. Check out my gallery of shots from the event below.
Portland is also known for the Beaches Cruise in, which takes place out at PIR every Wednesday evening from June through September. If you're nearby, it's a must-see event - it's the biggest weekly cruise in on the West Coast, and PIR's ET drags take place at the same time, so there's a lot to see (and hear). If you make it out, look for us - ACC is run by a car-crazy staff, and we'll be there every week this summer.
Jim Pickering is the Editor of American Car Collector magazine and has been the Managing Editor of Sports Car Market magazine since 2006. As proficient with Snap-On tools as he is with a keyboard, Jim began his career as a professional mechanic while still in college at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where he earned a B.A. in Creative Writing. He can often be found at Portland International Raceway at the Late-Night Drags, behind the wheel of his 12-second big-block powered 1966 Chevrolet Caprice. He is also currently restoring a 1972 Chevrolet K10 Cheyenne Super longbed in his spare time.