The August edition of Chillin’ on Beale Street with its theme of Topless Fun on Route 66 may be history but for those fortunate enough to attend, it will not soon be forgotten. From the crowds and music to the eclectic display of vehicles it was an amazing night under a clear desert sky.

As always the event was open to anything with wheels, which again meant an evening full of automotive surprises. As a bonus, the topless theme and the warm summer evening were just enough incentive to encourage owners of convertibles and t-top cars to dust them off, to cruise the streets, and to join in the fun.

The sun sinking into the west cast a Ford
restractable hardtop and Harley davidson
into shadows.

The listing of open topped vehicles on display ran the gamut from A to Z. At one end of this alphabet soup of automotive history was a delightful  Ford Model A roadster and an Alpha Romeo. The other end was represented by a rough but complete 1984 Nissan “Z” car with t-tops.
In between were a rare Ford retractable hardtop, a Singer roadster, a 1922 Ford “T”, a late model Thunderbird with custom paint that included a ghostly, metallic eagle on the trunk, an early Nova, and a small herd of garishly painted T-bucket roadsters. The array of fixed top cars was as equally diverse.

It was an evening made for top down fun.

An unrestored 1949 Chevy truck sporting well earned, desert baked patina sat nestled between a chrome bedecked Harley Davidson and an early Ranchero. Woody wagons and vintage buses, motorcycles and rat rods, full blown street machines and impeccably restored muscle cars lined Beale Street for blocks. (for more photos of the August Chillin on Beale Street check out the album on Destination Kingman page on Facebook).

How many sunsets have been seen through
the windshield of this Model A Ford?

As amazing as the automotive carnival was, it was the atmosphere that compelled you to linger, to savor, to leisurely stroll the street, and to take time to talk with friends and strangers alike. Folks by the hundreds brought chairs and coolers, filled the sidewalks, and simply chatted the evening away. It was simple, old fashioned small town fun at its absolute finest.
For me it was also an evening of surprises. See, there is still a disconnect in my mind between the Jim Hinckley that writes books and takes photographs and the Jim Hinckley that lives a simple life of anonymity in a small town in the midst of a vast desert in western Arizona.

The diversity of vehicles on display was

So, when someone stops by the office and asks that I sign a book or t-shirt, asks for directions, or asks when when my next book will be released, it is always a, “Who, Me?” sort of moment. With that in mind you can imagine my surprise when a tourist from Australia stops me on the street in Kingman, presents a limited edition print of the Hilltop Motel dusted in snow purchased in Amarillo, Texas at the Lile Fine Art Gallery, the distributor for our prints, and asks that I add a signature to the print itself, in addition to the one on the matting.

Twilight on Beale Street muted the colors of the vintage
cars and hot rods but not the fun.

I would think this edition of Chillin’ on Beale Street would be a very tough act to follow. Of course, I thought the July version, a salute to automotive orphans with Indian motorcycles, Hudson pick up trucks, and a show quality 1949 De Soto on display was pretty amazing. However, indications are the September version will be even bigger.

When was the last time you saw one of these at a small town show?
Even though many details are still sketchy it has been confirmed this event will be the venue for the official launching of a new book, Greetings from Route 66, a fascinating compilation that manages to capture the very essence of the highway in a manner that is almost like the blending of a time capsule and post card from the road to those back home.

Topless rides in all the colors of the rainbow were on display.

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