What do Paul Revere, silent film actress Clara Bow, and Reggie Jackson have in common? Their cars will be on the Boston Common Sept. 22. They will be joined by a collection of other prized automobiles for the 2013 edition of the Boston Cup, a free classic car show held in the heart of the Hub.
Boston businessman Rich Doucette and his partners conceived the Boston Cup as a way to take some of the region’s best classic cars and put them on display in downtown Boston. On Sept. 22, 101 cars will assemble around the Common’s Parkman Bandstand, commemorating the landmark turning 101.
But the spirit of the show is a celebration of Massachusetts-made cars. While many look to Detroit as the heart of the American auto industry, Massachusetts was once the hub for all things automotive. From an actual assembly facility in Assembly Square to Rolls-Royce and Indian factories in Springfield, the Bay State was once the mechanical epicenter of a quickly mobilizing America.
Doucette may not have been born in the state, but he has lived here since fifth grade. He began his career working in the mailroom of an ad firm, and now sells advertising for the New England Patriots and other organizations. But his heart is with vintage rides: “I’m basically a classic car fan at heart,’’ explains Doucette. “I’m on the board of the Classic Car Club of America, which only recognizes pre-World War II cars,’’ but he also says classic can be more broadly defined as “any car that you lusted after as a senior in high school.’’
As a result of Doucette’s broadened view on the classics, the show is open to cars of all ages, and will feature American, British, German, Italian, and Japanese cars from different eras and genres.
But the real stars of the show will be the Massachusetts-made vehicles. The collection will feature classics like the 1967 Pontiac GTO, made in Framingham, and a 1930 Packard, which has a body built by Waterhouse of Webster. There are also other, more obscure, cars such as the 1903 Grout, built in Orange, and a 1913 Metz Boattail Roadster, which originated in Waltham. Perhaps the vehicle with the deepest Massachusetts roots is the Hand Pump Wagon, which was built in Paul Revere’s Boston foundry in 1792.
In addition to the Packards, Bailey’s, Metz’s, Knoxes, and Grout’s, Doucette says, upwards of 160 auto manufacturers from Massachusetts through the years will be represented. Even new cars will be represented; an example is the GTM supercar, a kit car, developed by Factory Five in Wareham.
Launching this car show was no easy task. Doucette and his team made several attempts to host the show on the Common, and looked at several other locations, but none had the draw of setting up a car show in the heart of the city. One of the biggest challenges was making everyone happy, and making as little impact on the grounds as possible. “We took John Bailey from the Boston Parks Department down to the Greenwich Concours [d’Elegance],’’ says Doucette, “to demonstrate how a park can endure a show like this without damage.’’
The 2012 inaugural show took years to bring to fruition, but it was a resounding success. “The show is growing for 2013,’’ Doucette says, “but we’ll never have the numbers of those national shows. We’re trying to focus on quality, not quantity.’’
Quality of car is one thing this show appears to have in spades. A Volkswagen Beetle once owned by Reggie Jackson will be in attendance, while Maine’s Owl’s Head Museum is presenting a 1929 Rolls-Royce once owned by Clara Bow. In their day, Springfield-built Rolls-Royces were considered the best in the world, besting those built in the brand’s home country of Britain.
Just as impressive is the variety. While the seasoned performance aficionado will love the parade of modern race cars, provided by Lime Rock Park, just about any passer-by will recognize the actual George Barris Batmobile from the original “Batman’’ television series.
With a collection of cars ranging from the culturally significant to the locally built, the second edition of the Boston Cup should be an even greater success than the first.