At 7:10 a.m. on Sunday, September 6, 2020, I was in the parking lot of local bagel shop, buttered bagel and hot coffee in hand. Sitting in my Volvo V60, I used the car’s navigation system to find “Lime Rock Park”, amazed that I located it so quickly within that sometimes-quirky system. Estimated drive time was 2 hours, 30 minutes. With that, I pulled out of the lot, and was on my way to attending my first car show since the global pandemic shutdown began.
There are no words I can use which would add in any meaningful way to what so many have already expressed about the year 2020. I had resigned myself months ago that the entire year would be one huge write-off for participating in the car hobby, yet when I discovered that Lime Rock was planning to move ahead with its 38th annual “Sunday in the Park” concours, I reconsidered my rather conservative position. I knew the show well, and knew that even at its most crowded, the size of the track and the spacing of the show cars would allow for plenty of social distancing. Reading Lime Rock’s website, I learned that they planned to limit attendance by restricting the number of ticket sales, and they would also be enforcing a mask mandate. The final vote-in-favor was the weather forecast, which promised sunny skies, low humidity, and temperatures no higher than the low 80s.
Volvo’s navigation didn’t let me down, and I arrived at the track at 9:40. As soon as I drove onto the bridge over the track, I saw that indeed, this would be an experience different than almost every previous visit. Usually, the parking lot would be more than half-full by this time, and there would be rows and rows of trailers and tents visible in the distance. Instead, parking appeared to be about 25% full, and there was no camping this year – it had been removed as an option.
I parked and headed down the paved ramp toward the track, fearful that maybe there would be an equivalent lack of show cars on display. That wasn’t the case at all, even if the number of vehicles was less than the usual turnout. By my most unofficial calculation, I would guesstimate that both counts (cars and spectators) were about 50% of a typical Lime Rock Fall Vintage show. Almost everyone was masked, and track workers on foot and in golf carts were actually on patrol. If they spotted someone sans mask, the Lime Rock rep stopped that person and told them that masks were required. Good for them! It greatly added to my own comfort level as I walked the show.
The display cars did not disappoint: as always at Lime Rock, there were the pre-arranged “classes”, different every year, which allow for great variety within each class (for example, “Untouched and Preserved Originals and Barn Finds”). The show organizers also managed to squeeze in some fun at the expense of the coronavirus by naming one class “Distancing at a Distance – Vintage Travel Trailers & Campers”. The other major group of show vehicles is collectively known as the “Gathering of the Marques” – for these cars, there is no pre-registration. As one drives up to the gate, the driver makes it known that they intend to park their car with others from the same marque, and there is no model year cutoff. It does make for an eclectic gathering, and show goers have the option to linger or march past.
The spectator parking area itself can provide plenty of automotive entertainment too. New Englanders seems especially fond of motoring to this show in their ‘60s four-wheeled icons and parking them among all the other daily drivers. I suggest that the Lime Rock Park officials consider trophies to vehicles at least 50 years old found in the parking lot!
Awards were handed out between 1 and 2 p.m., at which point, show participants began to leave. I had covered the entire track by about 2 o’clock, so my time was up too. The drive home was hampered by a little more traffic than I encountered in the a.m., but I still managed it door-to-door without stopping in just under 2 hours and 45 minutes. I was really glad I went. It felt great to be outside and back at a show again, my first since attending Atlantic City in February. The Lime Rock Fall Vintage weekend has been a favorite of mine for 30 years, and I can only hope that the 2021 visit will feel like normal again.
This restoration was over-the-top, yet the accompanying signage claimed that the owners regularly tour in it, and that’s believable too. I loved the “outside” speedometer, and the likely-original worn clutch and brake pedals.
1928 Packard with 5th wheel trailer
I’ve seen this rig before, I think at Hershey. Its originality is impressive. I also overheard the owner say that the car is driven regularly. Take note of the 5th wheel, back when they really were wheels!
1964 Chevrolet Corvair
This Monza coupe was found in the barn-find class; the accompanying signage indicated an original 30,000 miles. The condition and colors made this a standout among 1st gen Corvairs.
This 400 model coupe was from the last year of “true” Packards. The signage indicated it was equipped with the optional torsion-leveling suspension.
This was my first in-person sighting of the mid-engined marvel from GM. It looked a bit underwhelming to me, an opinion I chalk up to its plain off-white exterior and interior.
1938 Lancia Aprilla
New England Rally friend Chuck Schoendorf showed this immaculate Lancia in the pre-war class. The car’s engineering was ahead of its time, with 4-wheel independent suspension and a narrow-angle V4 engine.
Renzo Rivolta’s ISO firm sold manufacturing rights for its Isetta to BMW, and used those profits to design and build this Italian-American hybrid, with a Corvette V8 under the hood.
1971 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe
Owners Dave and Cathy returned to Lime Rock with this gorgeous 124. I met them both last year and the car looked better than ever. Dave said that the oversize air cleaner is hiding two 2-barrel Webers, and stated that this is a high-horsepower European setup which was a dealer option.
1973 Fiat 124 Sport Coupe
These 124 coupes are rare, and it was very unusual to find two of them at the same show, when there were none of the more-common 124 Spiders.
1982 Ferrari 308GTSi
This “common” Ferrari model stood out for its unusual and attractive shade of verde medio, or medium green.
Ferrari Dino GTB coupes
I was struck by all 3 cars being GTB models, B for berlinetta, or coupe, compared to the more common S or spider models with a removable top center section.
Alfa Romeo coupe, spider, and sedan
Alfa Romeo Junior Z Zagato
This rare Alfa looked great in blue and I overheard the owner talk about having driven the car in Europe; I was envious.
3 Very Different Alfas
The Spider has a longitudinally-mounted engine in the front, driving the rear wheels. The 164 has a transversely-mounted engine in the front, driving the front wheels. The 4C has a mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels.
1963 VW Karmann-Ghia convertible
1973 BMW 3.0CS
Porsche 911 Targa “long hood”
Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
This 300SL was in the barn-find class, and given the values of these icons, it’s incredible to see one which hasn’t been restored. Based on photos on display, the engine had been yanked for an overhaul. The car, as worn as it is, looked completely functional, and frankly, I really hope the owner does NOT restore it! They’re original only once.
1965 Volvo 544
This was also in the barn-find class, with signage claiming 34,000 original miles and all-original condition, including paint and upholstery. It could be the only such 544 out there.
1968 Volvo 1800S
Volvo station wagon display
Volvo, well-known globally for its 5-door estate cars, started to add performance to the mix. Here were a few examples.
Miatas are usually well-represented at Lime Rock. This year, the turnout was a bit smaller than usual.
Datsun 240 Z
A lineup in red, white, and blue.
A FEW PARTING SHOTS
All photographs copyright © 2020 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.
17 thoughts on “Lime Rock Fall Vintage “Sunday in the Park”, Sep. 2020”
Richard, thank you so much for all of the photos of the great cars at Lime Rock. Having spent the past 36 years in Michigan, I’ve never been to the event. I just moved to Maine in April, and after reading your piece, I hope to run into you at next year’s Lime Rock event. Thanks for feeding my classic car appetite!
Thank you so much for your kind comments about the photos. I love taking them; the pix are definitely part of my creative outlet.
And welcome to the East Coast! While Maine still puts you at a bit of a distance for any shows in PA (the east coast capital of the old car hobby), there’s still lots of stuff that goes on in MA, CT, and VT.
Whereabouts in Maine are you? Spent a week up there last summer in Castine, and have vacationed multiple times in the Boothbay area. We love Maine!
Thanks again for the comments.
Really enjoyed this. Glad to see you got out on this beautiful day.
As much as I would like to get to a few cruise nights and perhaps a show, I see folks still not wearing masks which disturbs and deters me.
I am still playing catch up with routine house projects and trying to plan new ones with a contractor or 2. With time devoted to Mom up to and after her passing plus Dad’s always doctor appointments, personal time is at a premium. I always plan my outside chores and projects one season ahead and am planning last of the warm weather needs now.
While I love the ’39, it has to take a back seat to my other cars. Both my wife and son have 10 year old cars and the push has been to find replacements. Just got a good deal on a 2017 Hyundai Tucson, fully loaded for my son which should last him many years to come. I detailed the heck out of his 2010 Malibu, having spent 2 days cleaning and painting (primer, silver metallic and clear-all 2 coats) plus painting the calipers and hubs. Not sure if I’m shining a turd, but hopefully sweat equity will pay off. My only sour note is the car slid off the floor jack and I punctured the radiator and bent the trans cooler. Ugh. Lia and Frank Figorotta’s son Ned is my go-to mechanic as I just don’t have time nor desire to screw around with such things these days.
2020 was supposed to be my year for getting the ’39 mechanically sorted. Brakes were #1 but no time to even plan when to look at. If I cant find the small crack/fissure in the block, I will replace the block over winter. Traveling to and from the Dairy Queen outing, I lost over a gallon of coolant and I just can’t go on long trips like this. Have a few shows on my radar, but just not worth the headache should a bigger problem develop on a trip.
Ok, back to the salt mines (roof, garage, driveway, yard).
First, thank you for your kind comments about the posting. It was indeed beautiful to be up there.
I fully understand about the ’39. As the club members keep telling us, that’s the “fun” of having an old car! I still would love to own a car with a flathead Ford engine in it.
I’m not sure if I’ll get to another event at all this year. With autumn quickly closing in, it might be time to wait for hopefully better times in 2021.
Thanks again for commenting, and stay well.
Thank you for these wonderful pics. First time in 30+ years that I have not camped at the track for all the major events. But my Miata was there for the show. Your comment about the small turnout is spot on. there usually is at least 25 Miatas. this year was different, to say the least.3 of the first 4 cars in the Miata pic are from the Nutmeg Miata Club. Mine is the orange one. And the 5th one back is a former car of a Clubmember ..present owner has been encouraged to join our Club
Hi Joe, and thanks for your comments. Your ND looks great! I have a ’93 in black with the C package. I actually had it at Lime Rock once, back in 2014. Lets hope for better things next year at Lime Rock.
Great reporting on some great cars! I saw this when you posted it (the day after!) but I couldn’t get the photos to load properly so was only able to read about it. Now that I see the photos, I can see what I missed by staying home. Some of my all-time favorites: the Karmann Ghia of course because that’s what I learned to drive in, the BMW 3.0CS because it is THE Ultimate Driving Machine and in part because it’s the most beautiful BMW ever, fast Volvo wagons and the Dinos – no explanation necessary.
The question I keep asking myself is: how many more half century old cars with 30k miles are still moldering in barns out there somewhere?
Totally agree on the 300SL.
Hi Bob, thanks as always for your comments and insight. The weather that day was gorgeous, as you know, which certainly added to the enjoyment. It felt great to finally be outside at a car show for the first time this year.
Totally agree with you: the E9 is the best-looking BMW, and the 3 Dino coupes lined up like that were a rare and special treat.
Let’s hope that 300SL gets used as Gottlieb and Karl would have intended! And I do think there are more ‘barn finds’ out there still….
Some great pics there Richard. 👍
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