NEW HOPE AUTO SHOW, AUGUST 2015

Entrance queue at the start of Sunday's New Hope Auto Show
Entrance queue at the start of Sunday’s New Hope Auto Show

The New Hope (PA) Automobile Show was held on the grounds of the New Hope-Solebury High School on Saturday August 8 and Sunday August 9, 2015. This event, which held its first show in 1957, celebrated its 58th anniversary this year. Vehicles are displayed according to predetermined classes, which are different on each day. In general, domestic vehicles are shown on Saturday, while European imports are featured on Sunday. These divisions are not completely strict, as we shall see. Your faithful scribe registered and showed his 1967 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior on Sunday, so this report will focus only on that day’s cars.

Arriving at 8:15 a.m. and assigned to park with several Alfas already in attendance, I was pleasantly surprised to see our row quickly fill up. In all, 15 Alfas eventually arrived and parked together. While spiders (convertibles in Alfa-speak) were the dominant body style, there was enough variety to keep the Alfisti happy. And Alfas were far from the only well-represented marque. Car classes included Austin-Healey, BMW, Jaguar, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, MG, Porsche, Rolls-Royce/Bentley, and Triumph. Some of these classes had total entries in the dozens. All the usual suspects were present, yet the Sunday show distinguished itself by drawing out some truly unusual and rarely-seen exotics.

The Alfa segment of our program will be covered in a separate blog entry. For now, let’s take a tour of some of the other beautiful, sporty, exotic, and downright eye-opening cars on the field. (Photos can be enlarged for viewing by simply clicking on them.)

BRITISH

The MG menagerie
The MG menagerie

Any classic car show which bills itself as featuring “MGs and Triumphs” will cause you to expect to find MGBs and TR6s. We had MGBs and TR6s in New Hope. We also had Triumph Italias. The Italia had Triumph TR3 mechanicals under a Michelotti-designed body, built by Vignale in Italy. According to Wikipedia, only 329 were made. To say that they are rare is an understatement. To see one at a car show is completely unexpected. There were two on display today (the earlier use of the plural “Italias” was not a typo).

Not as rare as an Italia, but still infrequently spotted, were several MGCs. To those unaware of its existence, the “C” externally appears no different than an MGB. Careful scrutiny will reveal a hood bulge, necessary to accommodate the inline-six cylinder engine shoe-horned into the front. While contemporaneous road tests derided the extra weight over the front wheels and the accompanying poor handling, a kinder and gentler revisiting of the model has critics responding favorably to the extra oomph brought on by two extra cylinders.

The Jaguar E-Type (more commonly known as the XKE on this side of the pond) is arguably one of the most beautiful cars ever designed, and among the Series I, II, and III cars, the Series I is considered the purest version of the form. It was our luck to have four Series I E-Types at the show. With three of them parked adjacent to each other, the photo ops were aplenty.

The Rolls-Royce and Bentley contingent was huge, no doubt sparked into action through the nudging of the local RR-Bentley club to get its members out and onto the field. We know from past experience that said owners are not afraid to drive these British beauties, so seeing 25-30 of them was not a surprise. The distinctive front-end styling is a photographer’s delight.

Rounding out our review of British iron were these more commonly seen models, still enjoyable to admire.

PORSCHE
What’s a car show without Porsches? In this case, it would be a car show with many fewer vehicles on the show field. While no count was taken, it’s safe to presume that Porsche was the single best-represented marque at the event. Whether this was due to club participation or a wide and adoring audience for these sports cars, it was fun to see the variety extending from the 356, through the air-cooled 911s, to the water-cooled 924/944/928 series. If you were so inclined, new Panameras and Cayennes were also on display courtesy of a local Porsche dealer.

Throughout the generations, a Porsche front end is instantly recognizable
Throughout the generations, a Porsche front end is instantly recognizable

The rarest Porsche spotted today was this 959. According to my sources, a total of 200 were made. Originally not legal for sale in the U.S., these cars from the late 1980s are now old enough that they can legally be imported and driven. At the time of its release, it was considered the most far-flung supercar of its day. Its specifications may seem the stuff of normalcy now, however, it did lay the foundation for what would be expected among the world’s highest-performing machines.

A Porsche 959

A Porsche 959

DOMESITC

The New Hope Auto Show’s website states that Sunday’s car show includes classes for production GM, FoMoCo, and Chrysler Corp cars through 1990. The American cars on site were not a large group, but several MoPar models were standouts, and are worth highlighting for their styling and engineering features.

 

ITALIAN
Two different model Fiats were in attendance, sharing a unique attribute: neither car was badged “Fiat”.

After Fiat left the U.S. market in 1982, production of two of its popular sports cars, the X1/9 and the Spider 2000, was continued by Bertone and Pininfarina respectively, and these firms imported and sold the cars in the States under their own brands. (Malcolm Bricklin was somehow involved, but that’s too dark a story to include here.)

This 1987 Bertone X1/9 was an all-original car in pristine condition. Its current owner stated to me that he has owned the car for over 20 years, and drives it year-round (making sure that his winter driving is on dry roads).

This 1985 Pininfarina Spider looked brand new. While the owner was not available to answer questions, the condition of the car (flawless) spoke for him.

 

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

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