27 January 2017

From Pebble Beach to Main Street USA, car shows get us revved up

From large to small, you love your car shows. On Monday, we asked our Facebook audience, “What’s the best car show you’ve ever attended and what made it so memorable?” There were plenty of nominees.

Joey Liotta, Paul Milligan and Bruce Tranter went big — certainly in terms of fame and prestige — and looked west to California. “Pebble Beach is the ultimate,” Joey wrote. “It lived up to the expectations. I went once and hope to return. (Monterey’s) Concorso Italiano was great, too.” Paul agreed: “Pebble and related events never disappoint.” Bruce also selected the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but he didn’t paint it with such a wide brush, writing that recent events “lack the class” of earlier years. No matter. Pebble is on every car enthusiast’s bucket list for a reason.

Paul Masson went international with his nomination, touting the virtues of Canada’s annual Atlantic Nationals show in British Columbia each July. He also posted a photo of his classic Ford Maverick. There are “over 2,000 registered cars, plus hundreds more lurking in the Moncton area just an hour away from my hometown,” he wrote. “The best part was driving my car up and down the main drag all night with nothing but old cars everywhere!”

M. Rick Richards liked where Paul was going with that, writing that he enjoys “small town car shows held on Main Street.” That theme rang true for others, too. Michael Neal nominated “the annual car show in my home town. I got my ride done and made the 160-mile trip. Best part was winning Best Mopar!” [We were curious, so after a little Facebook snooping we learned that Michael lives in Iowa and owns a Plymouth Duster.] Bill Swiss nominated “a little car show in our small Texas town of Round Mountain” that was held last spring. It drew “11 cars and a truck.” Bill’s 1949 Buick Sedanette won Best of Show, but better still, “all the proceeds went to local children's charities.”

Looking for a big finish, Dan Doster nominated the Woodward Dream Cruise, which organizers claim draws 40,000 classic cars and 1.5 million people to Detroit each August. “So, so many cars,” Dan wrote in an understatement.

Ryan Mahoney chose another “biggie,” the Antique Automobile Club of America’s annual Fall Swap Meet in Hershey, Pa., a nearly week-long event that is so large that locals describe it as “22 miles of aisles.” On the final day of the massive swap meet, which has more than 9,000 vendor spaces covering 85 acres, the AACA hosts a highly anticipated classic car show. “But we don’t go to the show itself,” Ryan wrote. “We get up really early in the morning and park our chairs in a perfect spot to watch the cars drive in. There’s nearly 100 years of cars — many of which you only see in museums or as part of private collections — actually out on the road, fully operational, driving right in front of you. Even my wife agrees how much fun it is ...” Um, Ryan, if the photo you posted of a sleeping woman wrapped in a blanket is indeed your wife, we’re guessing that “fun” isn’t exactly the word she would use. Then again, maybe the excitement was just too much for her.

Of all the shows nominated, it’s difficult to compete with the reasoning behind Nicholas Eggleston’s choice. The 2008 Iola (Wis.) Old Car Show made such an impact on Nicholas that nine years later he still considers it life changing. “It was the most significant one for me because I not only got to meet Joe Bortz, then-owner of the (1954) Dodge Firearrow III (concept car), but he let me sit in it! That was the day that 11-year-old me decided I was going to work on cars for a living, and eight years later I am at McPherson College (Kan.) following that dream.” We’d call that Best in Show right there.

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