MY FIRST MEETING WITH LARZ ANDERSON
We, as enthusiasts, love to get together. To share stories and memories, show off our builds and sometimes participate in age-old competitions between brands. We're all patrons of the same church, followers of the same faith. Grease, metal and passion pave the way for our constant competition and building bond. Through all of the sharing, friendly competition and even contention, there's a love of drawn from the same subject. Cars.
Now that we've dispensed with the pleasantries, I should clarify that the Larz Anderson I met isn't a person, but a standing monument to one family's passion for cars. Way back when, Larz and Isabel Anderson would welcome the wealthy socialites of Massachusetts to their home in Belmont. Specifically there was a carriage house that soon began to collect its own unique examples of Mr. Anderson's passions. After the passing of Isabel Anderson in 1948 the Larz Anderson Auto Museum was created. During the summer, the museum is a playground for the gasoline obsessed and mechanically inclined. One highlight of these gatherings lies in the Lawn Events.
These events can range from a simple gathering of like-minded enthusiasts for cars and coffee to manufacturer dedicated events celebrating the capabilities of one marque. The lawn can house as many or as few cars it may need to, some shaded with the trees lining the wall of shrubs and others sitting in the afternoon sun.
The Lawn itself is not that large. No bigger than half an acre or so. The museum is much more impressive, the nearly 150 year-old building stands tall over the lawn. Large stepped roofs slide down the upper floor to the stone flanks. Inside not much has changed. Floors have been covered with a veneer to protect from visitor's feet, but much of the building seems to be preserved. Several of Mr. Anderson's classic coaches lay inside in the shape you would expect from something pushing 200 years.
Memorabilia is laid out along the walls and in display cases around the museum. From pins, badges, old signage and even the odd scrap from a carriage long since disassembled, the museum is a time machine bringing visitors back to a bye-gone era. One room houses some relics from the Anderson's personal collections of art and sculptures.
Now for the main event. The day's manufacturer was Porsche, the stubborn German car company from Stuttgart. Rear-engined was the flavor of the day, with some front engined classics thrown in for added spice. For a manufacturer that has been designing their cars for over 50 years, the 911 shape still holds that same sports car appeal it always has.
The Lawn's patrons had brought the entire range of Porsche's best. Everything from early 911s to 914s and the newest GT2s were present. Even in the areas where more than one of the same model rested there was variety. Everyone likes to trash the 911 for having never changed its design but each iteration clearly shows a personality.
One driver - owning a green classic 911 - decided to make the joke before everyone else could, adorning their window with a Kermit sticker. Other classics had more subtle shades of blue and green. A simple pallet but still breathtaking to look at. Then there was the family of 356s. Some coupes, some roadsters, all drop-dead gorgeous. The Genesis of the 911 formula, the 1963 901, was present as well, again draped in lovely shades of black, red, white and so on.
Having driven a GT3 myself, I was all too familiar with the form. The interior of the newer 911's look familiar, reminding me of the steering wheel resting in my hands and how loud they could scream when pushed. The classic 911s almost seem to be of a different breed. The artistry in the interior design hides the savagery the 911 was capable in its early years.
Ultimately my first lawn event at the Larz Anderson Museum represented everything fun about being a car enthusiast. Drivers and their families getting together to share stories and swap advice on maintenance just for the sake of being part of that tribe. Yes there is competition between enthusiasts and everyone with fly their own flag. But we still all have the same addiction for the feel of the drive, the way all the sounds and vibrations fuse together for one experience. I'll be continuing to visit the Larz Anderson Museum until they kick me out. And even then I'll be waiting at the gates for the next season to arrive so I can join my tribe again.