With last week’s formal cancelation of the Vintage in the Carolinas, we’ve seen all sides of the “new normal” post-COVID-19-event debate. Even the South is clamping down on gatherings, and wherever you might find yourself in the country, seeing friends and sharing car memories may mean adhering to stricter protocols from now on.
One such example is the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, which has been restarting their famously well-attended Lawn Show series this fall—albeit with considerable changes. We’ve covered the Lawn Shows before on BimmerLife (with excellent photography from contributor Tucker Beatty), specifically German Car Day from one year ago. The contrast is stark, but while it might be shocking to compare Beatty’s images of full lawns and spectator crowds with mine from this weekend, the result is for the better—at least for now.
Of the changes implemented by the museum, the most dramatic was in attendance. In place of their typical all-day show with hundreds of cars, there were just two sessions of 50 cars to adhere to Massachusetts’ event requirements. Promotion, too, was limited; the museum filled both sessions in minutes from a single post on Larz Anderson social media, even with the price being roughly double that of a typical lawn-show entry. But for those of us who miss show season, and who want a safe, respectful environment in which to resume, it was worth the cost.
Oh, and that 50-person limit includes spectators and passengers; to bring two people, my girlfriend and I had to register two cars.
Not that it turned out to be a huge issue. She’s a frequent Larz Anderson attendee, and recommended two cars from our plethora of eligible German vehicles: the 1986 BMW 635CSi, and the 1979 BMW 733i. Both proved to be nice additions to the smaller field, bringing 1980s style to the collection of Porsche, Mercedes, E9 coupes, and E90 3 Series, all parked an extra car-width apart on the rolling lawns of the historic Larz Anderson grounds.
On a brisk morning on the cusp of fall, there’s nothing more perfect than an early-morning car show. The smell of leaves and exhaust, the soft burble as cars roll in—we miss these things more than we know. Even in such a dynamic year, to be able to stroll across dew-covered grass and admire details of cars both new and familiar put the mind at ease.
This Larz Anderson Lawn Show felt more like a Cars & Coffee, and that’s not a bad thing. Maybe the temporary future of events—for as long as it takes—will mean longer conversations with new friends, and more patient reunions with old. It means more careful planning, and a bit more charity to event organizers. But as we found last weekend, the community is willing to do what it takes to make sure that enthusiast gatherings—and their attendees—make it through another year.
For now, I’ll be preparing the cars for the next one. I hope to see some of you there.—David Rose
[Photos courtesy David Rose.]