If you have doubts about America's love affair with the automobile, go to a local car show.
This past weekend, the 20th anniversary of a classic car gathering took place on Florida's Amelia Island. It is a terrific show that grew from the dogged efforts of one guy.
Bill Warner started the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance two decades ago and with great determination built a significant and enjoyable show.
Actually, it's hard to call it a classic car show. I always think of it as "Bill's show." Besides traditional classic cars, he features the bizarre and unusual simply because it is his show and he can do it. Good for him.
He attracts thousands of people to the northern Florida island and raises thousands of dollars for charity. Cars come from all over the country and the world. He always has a notable racing dignitary to honor, a selection Warner makes himself.
Everyone has a good time, and everyone's faith in the love affair is restored. It's a great event -- as long as it doesn't rain.
At the other end of the spectrum -- a week before Amelia Island -- was the Autorama in Detroit. Over three days, the extravaganza attracted 150,000 spectators who ogled hundreds of custom cars and hot rods. The show is quite different from the one on Amelia Island, but it always generates lots of enthusiasm.
Indeed, if you want to get fired up about this business, go to a car show. There are so many -- there must be at least one that captures your exact interest.
Sure, we all love the big car shows that introduce lots of new cars and trucks to keep this industry thriving. But enthusiast shows around the country keep the spirit alive for millions of automobile lovers.
This is a business of passion, and it is fun to see cars brimming with spirit, whether it's off-roading capability, precise handling or massive horsepower.
Not long ago, the auto industry was so concerned with emissions and fuel economy rules that manufacturers had little time to develop fun vehicles.
Luckily, that's over.
Congratulations to Bill Warner and other show organizers for keeping the passion alive.