AUBURN — A tradition with roots in the 1950s, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival continues to find fresh, exciting ways to celebrate Auburn’s automotive history.

Many of the best events remain free of charge during the festival over Labor Day weekend, including two large car shows, two music concerts and the traditional Parade of Classics that started it all in 1956.

Festival-goers also can visit the city’s three automotive museums and two collector-car auctions, as well as choosing from a wide selection of food and beverages.

Two of the nation’s finest free car shows begin with the Downtown Cruise-in all day Friday. An estimated 700 show cars of all eras and styles will line the streets for visitors to admire. The day concludes with a free concert on the downtown stage featuring local favorites Big Caddy Daddy and Hubie Ashcraft.

Saturday brings the Parade of Classics at 1 p.m. from Eckhart Park to the courthouse square. More than 200 Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg cars from the 1930s and earlier will roll up tree-lined Jackson Street and then down Main Street. Owners will park them around the courthouse for a free display after the parade. This year’s lineup is sure to feature an expanded representation of mighty Duesenbergs, kings of the classics, on the 90th anniversary of the massive Duesenberg Model J and supercharged Model SJ.

When the classics clear out, modern exotic cars will take their place on the square in the Fast and Fabulous show Saturday at 5 p.m., highlighting Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens and the Porsche Club of America.

Saturday evening’s free concert will feature the Junk Yard Band, followed by the Matte Gray Band, direct from the famous strip in Nashville, Tennessee.

A new free attraction this year will be Ticket to Ride, offering free rides in collector cars, departing from the James Cultural Plaza at the west edge of downtown Saturday from 4-6 p.m. First preference will go to people with advance tickets that are available from the sponsor, Joyce Hefty Insurance of Auburn.

Also at the James Cultural Plaza, “American Pickers” co-star Rob Wolfe will conduct a live pick Saturday afternoon.

Events with admission fees include the RM Auctions Auburn Fall Collector Car Weekend, Wednesday through Sunday at Auburn Auction Park, and Worldwide Auctioneers 12th Annual Auburn Auction, Friday and Saturday at Kruse Plaza, formerly the Kruse Museums and Expo Center. Both auction sites are south of Auburn near Interstate 69 exit 326.

The festival also offers an ideal time to visit Auburn’s automotive museums.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum displays the three classic marques built by the Auburn Automobile Co. inside the elegant, art deco building that served as the company’s headquarters and showroom in the 1930s.

The National Auto and Truck Museum occupies the other two surviving buildings of the Auburn Automobile Co. Its exhibits include popular cars from the 1950s to the present, as well as the historic General Motors 1953 Futurliner.

The city’s newest museum, the Early Ford V8 Foundation Museum, tripled in size this year for its 10th anniversary. Its replica of the Ford Motor Co. Rotunda houses a recreation of a Ford dealership from 1936 with fully restored examples of every model the company produced that year. The museum displays Fords built from 1932-1953. It stands directly north of Kruse Plaza, south of Auburn along Interstate 69.

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