The history of the Medellín Classic Car Parade, emblem of the Flower Fair


The parade of vintage and classic cars will take place this Saturday, August 13.

Photo: LUIS BENAVIDES

Hundreds of cars parade through the streets of the City of Eternal Spring accompanying the flowers that flood Medellín during the days of the Flower Fair. For 25 years, the Classic and Antique Car Parade has offered Colombians a window into the past, through their cars. This Saturday, the cars that thousands of people expected to see for the two years the pandemic prevented the event from taking place will be rolling again. Today is one of the key moments in the middle of the flower festival, however, its origins date back to 1996.

During this year, the Autoclub Antioqueño de Antiguos y Clásicos – ACLA, Clásicos y Antiguos de la Montaña – CLAM and the Automobile Club de Colombia – ACC, Sectional Antioquia took on the task of organizing what would be the first parade of classic and vintage cars. . On the day of the parade, a collection of cars with their drivers and companions dressed in costumes from the era the car was built left the headquarters of the newspaper El Colombiano.

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“I remember people went to great lengths for the clothes, a beauty,” said Herman Gutiérrez, chairman of the Antioquia Transportation Museum Foundation board, in a 2019 promotional video. It was a beauty. The old women’s dresses, which were seen that day, were impressively beautiful as well as the number of people who came to see the parade.”

Gutiérrez says that the origin of the parade came when “a journalist from El Colombiano, Mr. Carlos Puello, called me to tell me that Dr. Mercedes Gómez, who at the time was the newspaper’s director, had asked him to go up with an important event that El Colombiano I would like to carry out within the framework of the Flower Fair. He told me that he wanted to talk to me, because he was very fond of old cars and I was only ‘an aficionado”. The day after this call, Gutiérrez already had an idea, to save the parades of yesteryear cars that took place in the city. The journalist accepted and they then summoned the automobile clubs of the city. Mercedes Gómez accepted and took on the search for sponsors.

In the early years, the timeline that united the models on the asphalt blurred with the mixing of the years. Those who attended these early parades say that a 1970 car could come out and immediately after a 1954 model. from the year 2000 things started to change and the chronological order started to be noticed. They received 87 cars in 1996, 150 vehicles the second year, 300 the next, and decided to leave the number there, even though many more wanted to sign up.

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On their page, they are described as “a traveling museum where vintage cars travel and adorn the streets of Medellin, giving local visitors and tourists the opportunity to appreciate color, elegance, detail and a bit of t ‘story”. Ever since they started having a storyline in 2004, they have never ceased to amaze viewers who come to see the trailer. Year after year, a new theme sets the tone for the parade. This year, for example, 285 vehicles manufactured between 1900 and 1987 will take part in the parade’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Although it was consolidated as an event and organization in 1996, the Classic and Vintage Car Parade operates today as part of the Transportation Museum Foundation, founded by the same organizers of the first parade.

Beyond the bodies and tires, Gutiérrez says that from this idea they proposed to the director of El Colombiano at the time, a social function also came out for the massive event we know today. Amid initial discussions about event logistics and budget, the question arose: what if there is money left over? and the response they gave him was to donate to the Fundación Infantil Santiago Corazón, which they continue to do to this day year after year.

Each of the participating cars has a story and those on either side of the street remember one or more of the models that pass in front of them. Besides being a traveling museum, the parade is also a treasure chest. For example, one of the parade’s iconic cars that appeared 14 times is the Packard 29. A car like the ones you’d see in any 1920s movie, which Gutiérrez says was brought to Colombia by the curia of Medellin for Archbishop Manuel José Caicedo and which functions as if it were new.

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Juan Guillermo Correa, author of the book “History of the Automobile in Colombia”, mentions in the video that this parade has become part of the culture of Medellín since “in Antioquia we have a culture where family comes first. Behind almost every family there is a car that father had, grandfather had, uncle had, so when all that number of vehicles go to town to drive on the streets, what drives is all our very typical nostalgia for the Antiochian value of remembering grandparents, parents, uncles and the very cars we use in youth I see with great nostalgia my colleagues who remember that cars were new when they were young, that nostalgia still remains with car fans, so reclaiming memory was a big thing that happened with the first parade.

The parade of classic and vintage cars not only highlights the nostalgic stories of those who see memories of their lives in the models, it also dusts off the stories of people who may have a piece of jewelry to show off and, as Gutiérrez says, “they take on the challenge of lighting it up and fixing it so it’s in the parade.”

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