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London classic car gathering proves car culture not dead

Cruises, shows and other impromptu gatherings prove car culture healthy

Published: August 19, 2019, 11:55 AM
Updated: August 24, 2019, 2:05 AM

East London Timing Association (ELTA) Summer Bash

You’ve no doubt heard rumblings that car culture is dying – and in some cases there is some truth to the notion. In an earlier era, young people (boys especially) couldn’t wait for that trip to the license office on their 16th birthday to get their driver’s permit. Today, not so much – teenagers are content doing their driving on tablets and video screens.

East London Timing Association (ELTA) Summer Bash

Tinkering with their rides also seems to be a fading pastime, due more to the fact automakers have made vehicles so complex and sophisticated there’s not much left to tinker with under the hood.

To say, however, this culture that focuses on things automotive has died is wrong. There is still a strong contingent of auto aficionados with a passion for cool cars and trucks – and the age range includes young folk as well as older generations. Just check out the number of car shows and cruise events being held in communities large and small.

East London Timing Association (ELTA) Summer Bash

There’s hardly a night of the week throughout the warm months of the year when a car gathering isn’t happening somewhere, and weekends are jammed with major auto shows and cruise-ins. While iconic events, such as the Woodward Dream Cruise, draw thousands of vehicles and countless spectators each year, there are local and regional cruises and shows with equally impressive vehicles drawing plenty of interest.

One such event is the East London Timing Association (ELTA) Summer Bash, held recently in London, Ont. The ELTA had planned to stage its annual get-together, with some drag racing mixed in, at the St. Thomas Dragway. Unfortunately, the track operator passed away just days before the event and the track was locked down while legal matters are resolved. The ELTA members – the “Disciples of Speed” – in less than a week put together a show on the street and various parking lots adjacent to their club headquarters in a primarily industrial area of the city.

East London Timing Association (ELTA) Summer Bash

The response was amazing. With little more than social media posts to announce the event, it drew several hundred vehicles, including one from New Mexico. The vehicles that jammed the area ranged from pure racing machines such as rail dragsters, gassers and competition hot rods to classic muscle cars and customs. From early morning ’til well after the sun set, spectators of all ages soaked up the sights and sounds as they strolled through the eclectic display of lovingly prepared cars and trucks. Despite the spontaneity of the event, the organizers managed to arrange live music, DJs spinning classic tunes and food and souvenir vendors, which added to the carnival atmosphere.

That so much interest could be generated so quickly is a testament to the ongoing interest in the car culture – ample proof that talk of its demise is ill-founded.

East London Timing Association (ELTA) Summer Bash

Here is a gallery of photos taken at this year’s ELTA Summer Bash: