Automotive companies and brands may come and go, but products, if designed and built well, could survive for decades. And what better way to honor the many parentless vehicles than with a car show in a city near Detroit with a rich automotive (and wartime armaments) history: Ypsilanti.
This unique college and working-class town has hosted the Orphan Car Show (now in a lovely riverside park) for 25 years, with astute judges telling the stories and backgrounds of all the vehicles on display that slide past the review stand.
For 2023 there were many brands represented (as you’ll see below in the gallery), but this year’s show focused on the “Orphans of General Motors.” That means Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saab, Saturn, Geo, Oakland, and, from a long, long time ago, Durant and Dort. We will go mainly in chronological order and ask which brands are destined for orphan status today.
The oldest car on the grass, a 1905 Durant Dort Buggy that preceded the founding of General Motors.
Another car with GM roots, this black 1923 Durant Motors Star Six sits next to a blue 1920 Liberty 10-C 5-passenger touring car.
Peter Tacy with his 1927 Packard 3-36 Runabout.
This 1929 Hudson Essex Boattail won its class.
And it looks even better from behind.
1931 Packard 463 Chassis 826 Sedan.
1934 DeSoto Airflow sedan parked among other Chrysler group orphans.
Stylish rear end of the 1934 DeSoto Airflow sedan.
Does the front of the 1934 DeSoto Airflow sedan do the rear justice?
1942 DeSoto Club Coupe hood ornament.
1942 DeSoto Club Coupe.
1947 Hudson Big Boy pickup truck.
This 1948 DeSoto convertible heads to the jury test stand.
1948 Plymouth Special Deluxe Sedan.
Packards parked along the river.
Leo Shedden won the Packard class with this 1947 Clipper 2106, which he purchased just a month ago.
The judges are impressed with this 1948 Pontiac Silver Streak 2-door.
Dark gray 1951 Packard 200 4-door sedan next to a 1953 Touring 400 sedan.
1952 Pontiac Chief.
1952 Pontiac Chieftain hood ornament.
DeSoto, Plymouth, other Chrysler orphans.
This 1954 Kaiser Manhattan four-door comes complete with a drive-in waitress dummy.
1954 Kaiser Manhattan four-door at the drive-in.
No, it’s not creepy at all, especially the baby on the driver’s lap.
This 1956 DeSoto Firedome Seville has a 230 HP 330 Hemi 2 BBL.
And the Firedome Seville also takes a backseat to Groucho Marx, whose family received two DeSotos a year, for his work on behalf of the brand.
Now let’s see vehicle plates that no longer exist from brands that, in some cases, like this 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II.
Joe Romanowski of Windsor, Ontario, owns both this blue 1959 Monarch Mark II Lucerne 2-door hardtop and the white 1960 Monarch Lucerne 2-door hardtop. The white one won its class. The Monarch was a Canadian-registered Mercury.
Interior of class-winning 1960 Monarch Lucerne 2-door hardtop.
1960 AMC Metropolitan Convertible.
This 1961 Studebaker Hawk coupe won its class.
1962 AMC Rambler Convertible.
White 1962 AmphiCar 770 convertible next to a similar model in red…
… Owned by someone with a sense of humor.
Interior of the 1963 Avanti Coupé.
Once again, Chevrolet as a brand is going strong, but not so much the Corvair.
1963 Chevrolet Corvair Spyder Convertible.
This 1963 Chevy Corvair 95 van won its class.
John Magnusson’s 1963 Mercury Monterey won its category.
John Magnusson tells some amazing stories about his 1963 Mercury Monterey.
1963 Mercury Monterey is as big as a whale.
1963 Sunbeam Alpine ST next to a white 1980 Triumph Spitfire.
This 1969 Kaiser Jeepster Commando Convertible won its category.
Interior of 1969 Kaiser Jeepster Commando convertible.
Yes, Citroen is now part of Stellantis, but its past includes this red 1986 4-door 2CV and the blue 1979 Dyane 4-door.
Green 1972 Citroen SM, beige 1972 Citroen DS 4-door and a yellow 1959 Panhard Dyna Z-16 4-door sedan.
1975 Pontiac Grand Am 2-door silver colonnade next to a 1964 Pontiac GTO.
Wayne and Garth continue to celebrate with this 1976 AMC Pacer DL.
Rusty Blackwell with his 1979 Triumph Dolomite Sprint.
White 1985 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo and 2001 Pontiac Trans Am.
This 1985 Renault Alliance Convertible was saved from a junkyard.
1990 Saab 900 Turbo Convertible.