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Driving in Style:
The life of vintage car collectors

Mike Gosnay with his 1972 Buick GSX

Mike Gosnay of Glen Burnie, Md., a member of the Chrome City Cruisers, isn't a regular at the Silver Diner Cruise-In. He says he heard about it through word of mouth, a common means of finding out about the hottest shows, according to car collectors. He says he enjoys traveling around to different shows, some of which attract more than 200 cars on a regular basis. He also enjoys fixing cars, including his 1972 Buick GSX.

Al Parker of Linthicum, Md. is particularly proud of his 1956 Ford Thunderbird. The sage green car is a rare color, but the model is a popular icon of the 1950s. Actress Suzanne Sommers drove a white Thunderbird in the 1973 classic, "American Graffiti," and Frank Sinatra owned one that recently sold for $150,000. Parker's car is also identical to one Conway Twitty posed with on the cover of his 1981 album, "Mr. T." Ford made this particular model of the Thunderbird for three years, from 1955 to 1957. Parker says he chose to buy this car because the first car he owned was a 1956 model. He bought the car in September in Jacksonville, Fla., after seeing it advertised on the Internet. 

"This car could break a new car in half," he says. However, Parker doesn't drive the car on a regular basis, only to shows. Normally he drives a Lincoln Town Car or a Ford Ranger, neither of which would break in half very easily.

He says he misses the days of the Thunderbird. "Back in the '50s, cars changed every year. They kept covers over cars, and you couldn't find out what they looked like until September." Today, he says, new models hold no surprises. "They used to change the body style every year. Now they act like it's a big deal and they can't do it."


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