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October 26, 2008; Five years ago, Anthony and Valerie Lacaria, owners of "Pink Lady," met up with Dirk and Gretel Bensinger of Germany, owners of "Baby Blue."

The couples became fast friends, frequenting each other's home continents and experiencing plenty of vintage auto activities. It was a predestined path of friendship and mutual interest, Valerie Lacaria said.

"This meeting wasn't by chance," she said. "I knew it was our love for antique cars that drew us together."

It all started in July of 2003 when the Bensingers were touring America in a used RV they had purchased in the United States. When possible, they traveled rural routes, because, that's where they met real people, Dirk Bensinger said.

Along the way, they found something else very appealing: A 1959 Chrysler Imperial.

 "They traded the RV," Lacaria said. "They named the car 'Baby Blue' and continued traveling."

It was on old U.S. 50 that the Bensingers came to the end of their road, at least temporarily.

They broke down at Monroe Muffler, Anthony Lacaria said. The people who worked there called me to come up. "They said they couldn't understand them but they had a car like mine," said Lacaria about his desert rose colored 1956 Imperial.

After the Lacarias lent some time, hospitality and vintage car know-how, "Baby Blue" was back on the road. In the meantime, the couples formed a quick bond.

"They ended up staying with us before they drove to Boston to catch a plane and have the car shipped to Germany, " Anthony Lacaria said. "We decided to keep in touch, and they wanted us to come see Europe."

In May of 2005, the Lacarias made their first trip abroad, visiting the Bensingers in Bavaria, Germany.

"Gretel greeted us in English, Valerie Lacaria said just so we could communicate better."

While in Europe, the Lacarias participated in Italy's Mille Miglia, a historical open-road endurance race.

"We just did part of the race, but went through several cities including, Tuscany and Bologna," Valerie Lacaria said. "We also got to travel back to Germany through Austria."

The Lacarias were pleasantly surprised to take the road trip in an antique Mercedes. They later learned that their friend Dirk was a worldwide sales chief for the European car manufacturer.

Other highlights of the venture included a visit to the Adriatic Coast and an Alps climbing adventure.

"We learned so much about their land and culture Valerie Lacaria said, "We packed a lot into 12 days. It was a great experience."

In 2006, the Lacarias made a second trip across the ocean this time touring the historic; Daimler Chrysler Museum and the Mercedes restoration facility in Stuttgart.

In September 2008, the Lacarias completed a third European journey. Hungary's Vintage Automobile and Motorcycle Land Rally proved to be another memorable experience.

"It's a timed rally, about 10 hours long," Anthony Lacaria; said. "It about wore me out."

The Lacarias and their Hungarian navigator Lazlo Varga captured a second-place finish. They, of course, drove 'Baby Blue' in the event.

Soaking up European influence and capturing a perspective on vintage automobiles have revved up the Lacarias, they said.

But they've gained so much more.

"Dirk always travels the back roads so we've learned so much socially from meeting people and hearing about their backgrounds," Anthony Lacaria said.

The international relationship may have come full circle, but there is still more adventure in the works. After making a handful of trip to the U.S, the Bensginers are planning a trip in 2009, Valerie Lacaria said.

Its Dirk's 66th Birthday and he wants to travel Route 66.

For More Information of the International road trips, visit the Lacaria's website at www.myimperials.com

   
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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