Phyllis Ary sat Sunday afternoon, one of the first blazing-hot days of the summer, under the shade of a massive tree soaking in the whole shiny scene.
Car buffs, vintage collectors and families who just like to look at cool rides mingle all around her. She had never taken her grandpa’s 1907 Mason Touring to a big car show like this and no doubt was tickled to be at the sixth annual Art of the Car Concours, one of the most popular vintage car shows in the Midwest.
“I thought, ‘Gosh, it’s so plain Jane they won’t want it,’ ” said Ary, 79, who lived in the Kansas City area for years before moving back to her family’s farm near Everest in northeast Kansas. “But then they invited me!”
Her grandpa’s first car, which spent decades in the family barn up on blocks before the Everest Community Historical Society started restoring it in the early 1990s, was one of more than 200 vehicles displayed on the Kansas City Art Institute campus. The Touring sat among pristine Ford Coupes, a Duesenberg from 1929 and a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC.
The event, created by Marshall Miller to provide the Midwest with a show as good as those on the coasts, had cars from 12 states and 65 cities.
“I’m looking at that silver thing,” 4-year-old Madeline Keary told her grandmother, Margaret Keary, as she pointed to a sports car. Then the little girl from Blue Springs whipped her attention to a light blue 1953 Ford convertible. Then to a yellow 1968 Lotus convertible, she soon deemed her favorite.
Grandpa, Phil Keary, who lives in Kansas City, laughed: “The one she likes best all depends on which ones she’s looking at right then.”
When Miller created Art of the Car Concours, he wanted to offer all kinds of vehicles for all kinds of tastes. He looks for the unusual, the unique.
“Every single one has a story,” Miller said. “Just sit and talk to the owners, they’ll tell you.”
Many owners sat in lawn chairs near their cars or paced in front ready give a little history lesson or answer any questions.
Ed Knisley, of the Kansas City area, has owned his light blue 1953 Ford Sunliner convertible for about seven years. The year the car was made, he and his wife married and had a 1953 Ford sedan of their own.
“The guy I bought it from had cancer. He wanted someone to keep it original,” said Knisley, 77. “He was quite proud of it.”
For several hours Sunday, as scores of people walked from car to car, Ary watched folks admire the one that’s been in her family since her grandfather bought it new in 1907. As a little girl, she would climb into the Touring and sit in the front seat and honk the horn.
Now she had the chance to answer questions from the curious and talk a little about her grandpa, Walter J. Adams, who died in 1948.
Car owners accepted hand-crafted awards throughout the day. All of them were different, for honors such as Best First Ride or Best on Grass and Best Curves. The first group of awards came just after noon Sunday, as the sun really started to beat down.
Miller stood at the podium and announced the winner of the Best 100-Year-Old Car.
“ Phyllis Ary.”
The woman who worried that her car wasn’t fancy enough to be in a big show, was taking home one of the prizes.
“My grandpa,” she said, “would be so proud.”