This was all my fault. I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a listing for “The Malaise Car Show.” It was for cars from 1972 to 1995.

As Bradley’s C3 Corvette is a 1982, it fit squarely within the parameters. He signed up, entered my credit card, and $25 later he had a QR code for admission.

You have now reached the high point of this story. It quickly goes downhill from here.

Two of Bradley’s teenaged friends were eager to go. I am fascinated by their interest in both the C3 and car shows. As his friends cannot legally ride with him until he has had his license for six months, my partner Schön drove our Hyundai Elantra with his friends Alex and Joe. I rode with Bradley in the C3.

We quickly realized we had made two mistakes. First, we had not looked up the location of the show. It showed up on my Facebook feed, so how far could it be? Answer: 70 miles away, in Philomath, OR. Well, it was not actually in the small town (population 5,350), but about five miles out in country. With traffic, it was close to a two-hour drive.

When we later Googled “cars shows near me,” we found four or five that were much more local. Lesson number one: Check to see what your options are for car shows on any given weekend.

A more serious failing was that the A/C on the Shark stopped working. We just had the system converted to R134, so I was confident we would have cold air. But there it was, hot air blasting out of the vents.

It was the first official weekend of summer, and the temperature was well over 80 degrees. Unique to the 1982 Collector’s Edition C3 are its bronze-finish glass T-tops. So we had a choice of being par-broiled through the T-tops or just air-fried by the sun coming in with them removed. Let’s just say it made for several unpleasant hours in a hot car on a hot day.

The show itself was small, but charming. There were perhaps 20 examples of unloved cars in two rows. New to me, and a definitive example of “malaise,” was an American Motors Eagle “Sundancer.”

SCM scribe Lowell Paddock contributed that the Sundancer was developed by Jack Griffith, “otherwise known for his deadly, short-wheelbase V8-powered TVR Griffith.” According to Lowell, Griffith also created the Toyota Sunchaser. Sadly (or perhaps thankfully), there were none of those on display.

Bradley’s C3 did not win a trophy. We wondered if it just didn’t have a high enough malaise factor compared to a Pontiac Phoenix (that brand’s Chevrolet Citation) or an AMC Hornet?

No matter, the $3 grilled cheeseburgers with fresh lettuce and tomato were tasty. Somehow burgers always taste better at a car show. We also visited the Philomath Dairy Queen, where we quaffed chocolate chip cookie dough Blizzards.

Inside the DQ was a totem to our automotive past, a rack designed to hold copies of The Nickel Ads – that once indispensable way to locate the next affordable classic.

We reached home by late afternoon, stirred, shaken and broiled by the drive. None of the boys seemed saddened by their lack of hardware. The C3 will go back to the shop on Monday; I’m sure it is a simple fix.

We have learned two lessons. When A/C is critical, test it to make sure it really works before you head off across a sunbaked landscape. Bradley is considering driving the car to Monterey in August; it needs to be bulletproof before that adventure.

Second, before driving hundreds of miles for a car show, look around and see what’s happening in your backyard. Bradley asked how people used to find out about car shows, and I told him I recalled hearing about them through club newsletters or flyers handed out at other shows. It’s much simpler now.

Our new motto: “Fix the car and find the show.”



  1. Regarding the A/C, and I just had a similar experience in my C2, when is it ever an easy fix?

  2. It an easy fix when you have a friendly mechanic work on it. Unfriendly mechanic maybe not so easy and more expensive.

  3. The term comes from Jimmy Carter’s famous “malaise” speech (in which the word never appeared). There’s a fascinating book about it called “What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President,” by Kevin Mattson.

  4. I do hope Bradley opts to bring the Vette to Monterey Car Week. It would not only be his first time “driving” to car week and driving there in his own vehicle, Weathertech Raceway at Laguna Seca is celebrating Corvettes this year at the Historic Reunion and he can actually be a part of the festivities.

  5. There is a Sundancer in the LeMay Family Collection in Parkland (Tacoma), WA. Around 200 Sundancers were built.

  6. It is all about the adventure, however I remember after I first got my C4 of a similar trip. The car came with both the glass roof and the painted (never have been mounted). My then girlfriend and I were excited about driving the vette from LA to LV and less than 20 miles of LA stop and go, we turned around for my Maxima SE. We both felt like ants under a microscope with the glass roof regardless of the AC setting… But it made for a great story

  7. A car show with your boy, his pals and your partner. Nothing better to create memories for all of you regardless of the sunstroke!

  8. My friend Lyle and I drove his new-to-him Explorer from Portland to my casa near Cabo s few years ago. He tested the a/c at his home in Camas and it blew cold air just fine. In February. We departed in early April, and as we neared Guerrero Negro the temperature began to climb to “turn on the a/c” levels. It wasn’t February in Camas. So, our a/c consisted of all windows down and 80 mph. At one point Lyle’s thermometer read 111.6. But we made it to the casa, although shy a few pounds of water weight.

  9. I informed my father about a car show. We lived on the coast, so anywhere we go it’s going to be hot. We had no AC but just kept the windows down. Dad didn’t mind the show but I, the son, loved it! Fast forward from that show in 1975… I have crossed the stage as a class winner six times. No matter how you feel Mr. Martin this trip sounds as if it was fun for him and his friends. We need to interest the younger generation to keep the flame alive for old cars and it sounds like they liked this show. BTW the show my father took me to in 1975 was Forest Grove. I was 12.

  10. As the immortal philosopher Homer Simpson once said….”DOH!!”
    I wonder why there was such a large model year spread for the Malaise car show? By the late 1980s and early 90s we had fun cars like the Buick Grand National and the Corvette ZR1- hardly malaise material. I hope that Fiero took home a trophy!