Anniston Spring Gathering, March 23-25, 2001

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This is Kerry Pinkerton reporting from Anniston, Alabama, for the Imperial News Network.

The bi-annual gathering of the Packard's and Imperials (and other neat old cars) was held at the Victoria Country Inn in Anniston, Alabama on March 23-25, 2001..  This event began as the Birmingham Packard club getting together in an informal setting and evolved into twice a year event held at the Victoria House Country Inn.  A few meets ago they invited interested Imperial owners to join them.  This is an incredible venue and is different from anything I have been a part of.  Donald Taccone and Jeff Carrothers host the event.  There is no judging and no trophies.  There is no whispering and pointing at the flaws in someone's car.  There is no bias and no prejudice.  There is a lot of driving and riding and general car geeking.  As Robert Soule said "...basically everyone reverts to about 17 year old boys.." 

About 20 cars attended, mainly Packard and Imperials with a few other neat old cars.  I'm old, half blind, and can't read my own writing so I apologize in advance for any misspelled names or incorrect information.  Please send me a private email to and I'll fix or amend any errors.   I think I got everyone's car in a picture but took more of some cars for totally random reasons.  That is, I was more inclined to take pictures if the camera was in my hand as opposed to someone's steering wheel being in it.  I know this is the Imperial web site but part of the charm and grace that is the Anniston gatherings is the diversity that this hobby brings.  Therefore, get ready to see some non-Imperials.

This year, I had worked my butt off getting my 'new' 64 Crown cleaned up to take to Anniston.  My long-suffering wife Carolyn was going to ride with me and our Imperialless friend Ken Newberry was coerced (took all of 10 seconds) into driving the 73.  We decided to leave at noon to get to Anniston by 3 or so.  Carolyn was talked into driving the 73 to Kens house.  This was the first time she has driven an Imperial.  She did not really care for the experience and was quoted as saying "It's so big!  I had to concentrate to much."  We met Ken at 12:30 and promptly headed out.  Gorgeous day.  Up over the mountain we went and just at the crest, I heard a semi-familiar noise and steam began coming from the hood.  My radiator or water pump had given up the ghost.  We limped back to Ken's house and left the 64.  I was pretty disappointed but it turned out for the best because Ken drove his own car and just after we got to Anniston, he got a call his mother-in-law had passed away suddenly and he immediately left for Atlanta.  Ken was much missed by the group and our thoughts were with him all weekend..  If he had been in my 73 he would have been stranded as I doubt he would have wanted to drive it to Atlanta.  (Heck, I don't think I want to drive it in Atlanta).

By 6pm there were 14 cars in the roped off lot and the goodie eating and story telling was in high gear.  Some of us old f-rts turned in early but the good times went on till the wee hours.

I woke up at 5am (BurgerKing next door opens at 5 with good coffee).  At 6 I went to the balcony and took the following photos.  I kept thinking that Jane Goodall could do a documentary called "Imperials in the mist."

I just know I'm going to mess up who owns which car but this is what I think is right.  In the foreground is Elijah Scott's 71 Imperial with the paint job that he and I did last year.  See our do-it-yourself paint job page here. 

The back row from left to right are:  Donald Taccone (Birmingham)-56 Packard, Jed Sheehan (Huntsville)-56 Packard, Don Grossman (Birmingham) 56 Packard (23000 ORIGINAL MILES!!! ), Tom Nichols (Birmingham)-?? Rolls Royce (neat car!), and Larry Segall's (Tupelo MS) 59 Plymouth Fury.

The last two cars on this row both belonged to Robert Soule from Chattanooga a 66 300 and a 68 Imperial both low mileage cars that drove like new!  Robert has a large fleet which includes a two new convertibles a 300 and an Imperial but I do not remember the years.

At the top is Mark Harris's (New Orleans) 65 Imperial, John McCall's 60 Lincoln Premier (Awesome) and 56 Packard.  The gold thing is somebody's 73 LeBaron (mine, which had a vacuum leak and ran like crap all weekend but since I didn't drive it till Sunday, I didn't know it).  Bob Wicker came in from Jackson Ms in his 67 Caddy.  The white top belongs to Jeff Carrothers and is his "new" 56 Imperial.  This is an incredible story that everyone must read. See Jeff's 1956 Imperial page for details. 

This is the first time I've seen the car since we pushed it out of the building.  You should hear this thing run.  Wait a minute, that's not right.  You can't hear it run.  It's the quietest engine I've ever heard.  Jeff is still doing some TLC but it is an awesome car.

This is Donald Taccone's 56 Imperial.  There is a WONDERFUL story attached to this car.  Watch for a feature soon on the 56 pages.

  Another shot of Elijah's 71.  Paint job looks good in the overcast.  Saturday was a really nice day.  Light jacket in the am, tee shirts by noon, slight sprinkle once or twice in the pm but not enough to drive anyone in.

Mark Harris's 65 Imperial

Robert Soule's 66 300 and 68 LeBaron with Period perfect stickers

Jay Williams drove over in his super solid 62 Crown  Check out that rectangular wheel!

One of many trips down the road with a load of car geeks.  There was usually 4-5 cars out of the lot at any given time all day long.

  The weather was nice and the wives had a good time. This shot is Debbie Brown, LaQuita Soule, and Carolyn Pinkerton.   Debbie drove Donald Taccone's original 56 Imperial up from Birmingham.  She is a very petite lady and sat on 5 inches of Birmingham phone books.  She said there was something missing so when the ladies went shopping, she bought 'Jackie O' sunglasses and a long blue scarf to fit the image needed.   This was after they drove the 56 to JC Penney's and tried on hats.

  Anniston is a no judging zone but since I'm writing I'm going to give my vote to our own Chris Hawkin's (Atlanta) 66 LeBaron.  This car was magnificent.  Chris painted it himself (his second time) and did a great job.  I think he's got me beat as a painter.  He is still working on it and was putting trim on Saturday morning before he drove in but this car is going to be a 10!

  Ray Hickey drove in from Huntsville in this wonderful 56 300B with factory dual 4bbls and tan leather.

Larry Stegall's super nice 59 Plymouth.  What a neat car!  Solid, quiet, powerful and beautifully done. 

Anyone looking for a 81?  Bill Purdy drove in to attract come buyers.  Note this is a carb conversion, NOT fuel injected.  Click on the sign to read the phone number.

Saturday night we all had dinner at the inn and while some then turned in, others went to the carriage house for old car videos until the wee hours.  Sunday was cool and clear.

Gregg Wagner drove over from Atlanta in his 70 300.  Last year he had a new timing gear that had been installed a couple teeth off.  This year it ran STRONG!   He's making it better each year.  Robb 'Mopar' Newton started out from Anniston in his 67 Imp but a driveline vibration made him return home.  Finding no flights available, he rode a Grayhound to Atlanta and came in with Gregg.

  Several shots of Donald Taccone's original 56.

Mar25$32.jpg (115775 bytes)  Last year, Kurt Wolfe drove up in this HUGE black thing and I put my foot in my mouth and asked him what year his Mercury was.  Open mouth, insert foot, chew.  It's a low mileage 60 Lincoln Premier Formal Town Sedan.  A very rare car!  Size wise it is identical to John McCall's 59 Premier but the padded roof and other trim was a 3 grand plus option in 60!  Ignorance is treatable but stupidity is forever.  I'm educated now.  By the way, John's Premier is a really really neat low mileage original also.  It is a very rare sedan that looks like a hardtop.  The post is very thin and behind the seam.  With the doors closed it looks exactly like a hardtop.

  Another shot of Don Grossman's incredible 23K mile 56 Packard with the original plastic dealer installed seat covers.  The fabric has never been sat upon!  We had an interesting discussion about the current state of car shows.  This car is just about showroom condition but would not compare well to the 'over restored' cars that usually get the trophies.  What a treat and privilege to be able to drive something like this.  How many 45 year old 23K miles exist I wonder??  Not many I'll wager and I'll probably never drive another.  By the way, these Packard's had 4 wheel torsion bars with self leveling rear suspension.  It was really neat to feel the car 'settle' itself a few seconds after someone got in or out!

Another great gathering.  Notice I did not say 'show'?  Just a great time.  Good friends, some new cars and new people, some old cars and old friends made better this time.  Good times.  I can't wait till October.  The 64 WILL make it!  Oh yeah, some idiot bought a 54 Imp (4dr sedan with factory air) that he has never driven or even heard run over the phone on Saturday.  It's supposed to make it to Anniston in October and we hope you will plan to also!

Reporting from Anniston, this has been Kerry Pinkerton for the Imperial News Network.  Join us in October for our next edition.


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