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A beige-ish bash: Malaise-era cars get their own show

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1982 Chevrolet Cavalier Cadillac Cimarron. Image courtesy

Even to this day, some car shows across the country refuse admission to any vehicle built after 1972, as if every carmaker had suddenly conspired to never again build a desirable or collectible car after that date. However, one car show scheduled for next month will only admit cars from after that date and on through what’s commonly called the automotive Malaise Era.

According to show organizer Bryan Davis of Fresno, California, the cutoff years for cars permitted in the show, 1972 to 1995, were chosen specifically because they reference two major universal engineering changes in U.S. market automobiles that were the result of government regulation. In 1972, “manufacturers dropped compression ratios in anticipation of unleaded fuel and emissions legislation,” and then after 1995, any manufacturer selling a car in the United States had to include OBD II engine management systems, “ushering in the modern era of automotive technology.”

Other than the model year cutoffs, the show will be all inclusive. “It’s our philosophy that a car should gratify the person who owns it more than anyone else, so we happily welcome foreign cars, domestic cars, sports cars, luxury cars, family sedans, station wagons, trucks, SUVs, customized cars, unmodified cars, cars in mint condition, and cars that are held together with spit and bailing wire,” Davis wrote.

As Davis told last year in anticipation of the inaugural Malaise Daze Car Show, he felt attracted to the vehicles of the period initially coined by writer Murilee Martin largely because they were so unloved, but also because he found aspects of the cars he could appreciate. “They’re fun to poke fun at, and…they can be fun to drive in their own way,” he wrote. “With all the constraints placed on engineers and designers at the time, it’s a wonder they were able to produce anything capable of moving down the road under its own power.”

And, he noted, they’re far more affordable than collector cars from other eras.

His appreciation for the vehicles of the era led him to start the Malaise Motors Facebook group (“We are the Brougham package of car groups!”), website, and now car show. Last year’s show took place at Full Circle Brewing in Fresno while this year’s show, scheduled for April 28, will move to the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California.

For more information on the 2018 Malaise Daze car show, check out the listing for it in the Hemmings Event Calendar.