Diverse drivers - International car club meets in Hagerstown

May 31, 1997

Diverse drivers

International car club meets in Hagerstown


Staff Writer

Luxury and diversity were the driving forces behind the car show at the Venice Inn Saturday afternoon.

A 1972 Gremlin, a 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser wood-panelled station wagon and a 1973 Volkswagen Bug shared the parking lot with a 1956 Ford Fairlane, a 1963 Cadillac convertible and a 1981 stainless steel DeLorean at the Grand International Invitational of the Lambda Car Club International.

A sign at the entrance to the show explained that "the purpose of the Lambda Car Club International is for the enjoyment and exchange of information on old and special interest motor vehicles, combined with the social fellowship by gay and lesbian people interested in such vehicles."


The Tri-Valley Region chapter of the Lambda Car Club International, encompassing the Cumberland, Shenandoah and Potomac valleys, hosted the event.

There are about 30 members in the 6-year-old Tri-Valley Region chapter and about 1,150 national members in the 16-year-old Lambda Club, officials said.

The two-hour show drew about 240 automobile exhibitors from all over the United States, England and Canada, about 150 flawlessly restored and maintained classic, antique and special interest vehicles and 209 visitors between 1 and 3 p.m., according to organizers.

"I think we have a very eclectic group of cars here," said Bill Hicks, national president of the Lambda Car Club International. "We like luxury and accessorizing."

Hicks' own contribution to the show was a rose-colored 1961 Fleetwood that he calls his "Mary Kay Cadillac."

For the last three years the local car club has held a regional invitational car show in Hagerstown, but this is the first time the international invitational has been held here, said event chairman Roy Plank, of Chambersburg, Pa.

Last year, the international show was held in Denver and next year it will be in Phoenix, Plank said.

Hagerstown was selected as the location of this year's show because of its automotive history - the Dagmar, Crawford and Pope automobiles were manufactured here in the early part of this century, he said.

Members of the Lambda Car Club International toured Mack Trucks and Rayloc and held a road rally on Friday at Long Meadow Shopping Center to test driving skills, Plank said.

Charles Smith, of Boonsboro, contributed some local flavor to the show with his 1923 Dagmar.

Of the approximately 600 Dagmars built in Hagerstown by M.P. Moller and named after his daughter, Smith's is one of only two known to still exist, he said.

Most of the other cars at the show had a history as well.

Darryl Kiehl, of Atlanta, exhibited his green 1950 DeSoto Suburban, of which only 930 were built, he said. It originally sold for $3,808.

The nine-passenger sedan has 57,000 miles on it and was used for 34 years to pick up people at a train station in Wyoming and take them to a nearby dude ranch, Kiehl said.

Throughout the show, Hal Harder, of Boston gave rides around the Venice parking lot in his yellow two-seater 1958 Isetta BMW.

The front windshield also is the door, which opens like a refrigerator. The one-cylinder car can go up to 45 mph, Harder said.

Visitors to the show seemed unfazed by its connection to a gay organization.

"That doesn't bother me," said John Bartles Sr., 65, of Maugansville. "I believe in live and let live."

"I don't hold nothing against them. I'm not that type of person. I was brought up in a Christian home. I believe in treating everybody right," Bartles said.

Besides, "it's a nice show. You get to see some of the old cars," he said.

"They have lives ,too. They have their rights, too," said Brian Federline, 44, of Hagerstown.

"Men are men and men and cars go together," Federline added.

A gay car club offers a place where "we can be openly accepted by others," Plank said.

Plank said he hoped that one day "people can accept us for who we are, that there doesn't have to be separate clubs, that we can share common knowledge without discrimination."

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