Car companies and brands may come and go, but the products—if engineered and built well—could live on for decades. And what better way to honor the many parent-less vehicles than with a car show in a town near Detroit with a rich automotive (and wartime armaments) history: Ypsilanti.
This unique college and blue-collar town has been hosting the Orphan Car Show for 25 years (now in a lovely riverside park), with astute judges who tell the stories and background of all the exhibited vehicles that glide past the review stand.
For 2023, there were lots of 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 long, long ago—Durant and Dort. We'll go mostly in chronological order—and wonder which brands today are destined for orphan status.
The oldest car on the grass, a 1905 Durant Dort Buggy that predated the founding of General Motors.
Another car with GM roots, this black 1923 Durant Motors Star Six 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 the back.
1931 Packard 463 Chassis 826 Sedan.
1934 DeSoto Airflow sedan parked amid other Chrysler Group orphans.
Graceful back end of 1934 DeSoto Airflow sedan.
Does the front end of the 1934 DeSoto Airflow sedan do the back end justice?
1942 DeSoto Club Coupe hood ornament.
1942 DeSoto Club Coupe.
1947 Hudson Big Boy pickup truck.
This 1948 DeSoto convertible heads for the judging review stand.
1948 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan.
Packards parked along the river.
Leo Shedden won the Packard class with this 1947 2106 Clipper, which he just bought a month ago.
The judges are smitten with this 1948 Pontiac Silver Streak 2-Door.
Deep gray 1951 Packard 200 4-Door Sedan next to a 1953 400 Touring Sedan.
1952 Pontiac Chieftain.
1952 Pontiac Chieftain hood ornament.
DeSoto, Plymouth, other Chrysler orphans.
This 1954 Kaiser Manhattan Four-Door comes complete with mannequin drive-in waitress.
1954 Kaiser Manhattan Four-Door at the drive-in.
No, this isn't creepy in the least, especially not the baby on the driver's knee.
This 1956 DeSoto Firedome Seville has a 230-hp 330 Hemi 2 BBL.
And the Firedome Seville also has a back seat for Groucho Marx, whose family got two DeSotos a year, for his pitch work on behalf of the brand.
Now we see vehicle nameplates that no longer exist from brands that do, in some cases, like this 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II.
Joe Romanowski from 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. Monarch was a Canadian-badged Mercury.
Interior of the 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.
1963 Avanti Coupe interior.
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 class.
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 class.
Interior of 1969 Kaiser Jeepster Commando Convertible.
Yes, Citroen is now part of Stellantis, but its past included this red 1986 2CV 4-Door and 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.
Silver 1975 Pontiac Grand Am 2-Door Colonnade next to a 1964 Pontiac GTO.
Wayne and Garth party on with this 1976 AMC Pacer DL.
Rusty Blackwell with his 1979 Triumph Dolomite Sprint.
White 1985 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo and a 2001 Pontiac Trans Am.
This 1985 Renault Alliance Convertible was rescued from a junkyard.
1990 Saab 900 Turbo Convertible.