Rare Rolls-Royce among sexy cars at Rookery Bay car show
Sal Campo's 1960 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow looks like art more than transportation. Its lines undulate; its chrome veritably winks in the Marco Island sun; and its deep-as-a-well colors reflect the entire horizon back at you.
This car actually sounds like art — and that's even before you turn on the ignition. Sink into its buff leather seat and pull the door shut; you hear a satisfying baritone ka-chunk of metal parts perfectly meshed.
Could we just stand in front of it all day?
Perhaps that wouldn't be polite, and it would give short shrift to Campo's other mouthwatering cars: a 1933 Auburn and a 1954 Rolls Silver Wraith limousine. All three are at the Classic Car Show at Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. (See information box).
It's not the only event steeped in legacy this weekend. After you've ogled 20th century masterpiece cars and trucks you can time trip to the 1960s with a "revisiting Woodstock" party that evening at Collier County Museum, featuring photographs from the famous concert never exhibited in public before. (See side story).
Campo will be among collectors who will bring more than 40 classic vehicles dating from the 1920s through today to the Classic Car Show. Among them are such gems as:
- A 1949 Pontiac chocolate Silver Streak 8
- A bug-eyes 1952 Jaguar XK120 in snow white
- A 1960 red-and-white Chevrolet Corvette convertible
- A visored 1978 Ford Bronco on high-rise tires
- A 1963 fourth-place finish car from the Indianapolis 500
There's also a display of car hood ornaments, properly titled mascots, by Naples collector Jon Zoler, who just published a book of his 150-plus mascots and will sign it for purchasers. At 10 a.m. he'll present history and lore on the dramatic pieces, which actually predate the combustible engine: Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun’s chariot rolled to down the streets with a sun-crested falcon piece on its carriage.
Among the car collectors, Campo may qualify for most down-to-earth. He drives his classic cars weekly to keep them lubricated, so the part-time Marco Island resident and his wife JoAnn often take that 1954 Silver Wraith Rolls with its Lalique glass hood ornament out on a dinner excursion.
JoAnn Campo probably sits with her husband, but because this car is a limousine, the front technically is for the chauffeur. JoAnn could be nestled into the leather seats of its enclosed rear compartment, enjoying a drink on its cocktail tray and pressing a button to lower a back window shade, should she prefer to travel incognito.
Its radio, of course, is in the back as well, meant for the passenger rather than the driver. There are jump seats as well to handle five people inside. Campo has been known to pull up to the dollar store in his limo and let it disgorge a crew of grandklds for shopping.
“I like sharing my cars with people,” said Campo, a longtime Randolph, New Jersey, contractor who spends winters on Marco. “I’ll open the door, let them sit in the driver’s seat."
But car collecting is not for those unready to invest in their investment, he said. Parts can be rare or even require a custom build.
“It gets very pricey,” he conceded. He pointed to the caning on the Silver Wraith's rear doors as an example.
"The caning is really important on this car. It’s hand-applied paint, done with an icing knife," he explained. "The artist would put a straight edge put it against there and dip the knife in the paint and draw all the straight lines. Then they would have to dry for three or four days before they could do the next ones.”
Campo has researched his cars enough to know some of the quirks in their history, such as the origin of the Lalique "Spirit of Ecstasy" hood ornament on the car he owns and the small number of Silver Wraith models — 50, actually — built with V-8 engines.
Questions about the Silver Shadow he refers to JoAnn, who inspired its purchase.
“I’ve been reading Agatha Christie since I was about 12. I love the Rolls,” JoAnn Campo said. “I would say 'I want to ride in one of those.' Suddenly he starts buying them for me."
Campo isn't focused on one brand, however.
“I’m all over the map as far as cars go. I have a couple of Corvettes,” he said. He owns Cadillacs, Camaros, a '56 Thunderbird and a Nash Metropolitan convertible, one of the earlier American entries into the subcompact genre.
Campo says he likes some of the new model, but just doesn't find them appealing long term.
"With the new cars, they're nice for six months, and then they're old cars. People don't look at them any more. These cars, you can look at them 20 years from now and they'll be a work of art."
What: A classic car show to benefit the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is dedicated to promoting stewardship of coasts and estuaries through research, education, and training in its protected areas.
When: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16; a presentation on the history of car mascots (hood ornaments) from collector Jon Zoler at 10 a.m.
Where: 300 Tower Road, Naples
To buy: 239-530-5940 or at the entrance
Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/ naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.