First Day of Spring Brings First Car Show of the Season

A new entry on the collector car calendar has sprung up in 2021: the Neshanic Station Car Show, which held its inaugural event on Saturday March 20, nicely coinciding with the first day of spring. And a glorious day it was, with sunny blue skies, no wind, and moderate temperatures reaching close to 60F by midday. The clear air made for some stunning photography.

Side by side and as different as can be

The car show was combined with a general (not automotive) flea market, which deserves some background history. The tiny hamlet of Neshanic Station for decades held a flea market every Sunday during decent weather, with a wide range of vendors selling a great variety of new and used goods. It became quite well-known and would draw an audience from all parts of the Garden State. A few years ago, the private property which hosted the flea market was sold, and the lot was taken over by the county, merged with a local park. The old flea market was dead.

A nice show for a good cause

The Neshanic United Methodist Church resurrected the flea market, combining it with a car show to help draw a crowd. For 2021, it will a once-a-month-on-a-Saturday affair. To sign up, one only needed to send an email stating the desire to exhibit a car. There is no fee, but the church requests a voluntary donation to the food bank that it sponsors. The church has access to a spacious lot across the street from the original flea market location, a flat and grassy piece of property easily 5 or 6 times the size of what had previously been used.

I had registered my Miata a few weeks prior, and since the location is literally three miles from my house, I departed a few minutes before 9 a.m. and was still there in plenty of time. There were close to a dozen cars already in place as I motored past them, with a dozen or more yet to show up after me. This was a “run what you brung” kind of show: no limitations based on age, condition, restoration quality, or modifications, and sometimes that’s the best kind of show, because you truly get the largest variety of vehicles. It’s also a great way to make sure that anyone who owns what THEY consider an interesting car can feel included in a group that frankly might shun them at another type of show.

The new mid-engine C8 Corvette

Domestic iron from the 1960s comprised a large percentage of show cars, with two late-model Ferraris covering the exotic end of the spectrum. Not to be outdone, the Corvette contingent was out in full force, including a C8 mid-engine beauty in an eye-searing yellow. Late model cars included a Challenger, an Audi, and an Alfa 4C.

The flea market vendor turnout was smaller than I expected; the show cars dwarfed the vendors based on the amount of real estate taken. The crowd was a decent size, and the vast majority of folks walking the field outside adhered to the ‘masks on’ request except when eating or drinking something they bought from the on-site food truck. There is no doubt in my mind that for car owners and spectators alike, there was an overwhelming desire to get back to normal compared to 2020, and that helped account for the turnout.

As has been said many times before, after a certain amount of time in the hobby, it’s the people and their stories who become the real center of interest, and I met several fine folks whose stories are recounted below. The Neshanic Car Show organizers have already laid out their calendar through the remainder of the year, with the next two shows set for April 17 and May 15. My personal goal is to get that Alfa out of the garage where it’s been since 2019 in time for either the April or May event.

Twenty years later, another white over red Chrysler convertible…


1962 Lincoln Continental 4-door sedan

I approached the owner of this 1962 Lincoln and told him how refreshing it was to see a sedan since what I see at car shows are almost exclusively the four door convertibles. He told me that he was at a dealer in suburban Philly who had both the 4-door sedan and the 4-door convertible. Although he really wanted the droptop it was so outside his price range, he went with this green-on-green one. The car is all original, everything functions, and he named the car after his departed mother, calling it the “Queen Maryellen”. He went on: “Listen, I’m really not a car guy but I just love this thing, it’s so easy to drive and attracts so much attention no matter where I take it.” He also has an Olds Aurora at home and he hopes to come back next time with a friend so he can bring both cars.


2014 Audi A4

A young man in his mid-20s approached my Miata and struck up a conversation, telling me about a friend who has a Miata with an LS motor in it. I told him that I was familiar with the conversion and that kits are available to do just that. This got us both talking about cars in general. I could tell that he was a genuine enthusiast who seemed to harbor no prejudices when it came to interesting cars. He finally let it out that he was the owner of the 2014 Audi A4 at the other end of the aisle from me. It’s a four-cylinder stick shift car, and he’s done some “minor” modding as he called it, with a performance chip, cat-back exhaust, and some other tweaks. His car was spotless. I truly admired this young guy’s devotion and enthusiasm. The hobby needs to find a way to be inclusive to gals and guys like him who have a late model vehicle which is their pride and joy. ‘Our’ rules cannot be forced on them. They are the future of this hobby if it is to survive.


1965 Pontiac Bonneville 2-door hardtop

This 1965 Bonneville, at first blush, was a nice looking car without anything overtly special about it. I began a conversation with the owner, asking my usual first question: “how long have you owned it?” He answered by telling me “my grandmother bought this car new in Pasadena California”. This Bonneville is a one-family-owned car which resided in southern CA until he brought it to NJ when he married and relocated. The car was in a collision in the 1980 s and got a total repaint at that time; otherwise, it’s all original. This was my favorite car of the show.


1963 Studebaker Avanti

The Studebaker Avanti is an automotive enigma – born out of desperation as the company was going out of business, it was manufactured only for two model years, 1963 and 1964. Fewer than 5,000 were built as “Studebakers” before the factory shut down. (Don’t confuse these with the Avanti II, which is an almost-identical car manufactured when the tooling was bought by two Studebaker dealerships.) This owner has had this car for about 10 years, stating that he pulled it out of dry storage and got it roadworthy. It’s an unusually low-spec car, with a 3-speed manual floor shift, and lacking power steering, power windows, or A/C. This too was claimed to be a mostly original car, and I saw little reason to doubt it. Perhaps most convincingly, old-fashioned service stickers from 1967 and 1975 were still in the driver’s door jamb.

All photographs copyright © 2020 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

12 thoughts on “First Day of Spring Brings First Car Show of the Season

  1. Hi Richard, Thanks for sending me your blog. Impeccable application of the English language. A fading concern. My latest project is a 1927 Scout, gifted to me recently. Another of Indians ‘rolling change’ transition year models. (Aka “bitsa”…bitsa 1926 , bitsa 1928). Be well. Brad

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  2. Another great article. Was the owner of the Lincoln named Darren? If so, real nice guy. Also, good to hear folks are wearing masks. I remember our conversation last year when you said you were not inclined to attend any upcoming show.

    It sure was a perfect day, weather wise for sure and glad you got to go.

    My life is a bit crazy these days with the sudden passing of my sister-in-law. My wife and I are busy with a couple of lawyers due to no will left behind and a special needs child, my nephew. All of this is near Hartford, Ct. so we’ll be doing a lot of traveling in the near future.

    Early Saturday afternoon I spent 5 hours dedicated to my #2 vaccine shot. About an hour drive each way and 3 hours in line. Scheduling was 2 hours behind. Ugh.

    Looking forward to the next NS car show.

    Regards

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    • Hi Bob, first, I’m so sorry to hear about your sister-in-law; my condolences to your family. Yes, the Lincoln owner’s name was Darren, from No. Plainfield, very nice guy. Hope you can join the next show on April 17. Best, Richard

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    • Hi John, thanks for your comment! Agreed, and I would add to that the fact that after we basically wrote off all of 2020, lots of owners are itching to get their cars out to shows again. We shall see! Best, Richard

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  3. Hi Richard. Great article on the show this past Saturday which was enjoyed by all. I look forward to the next one and catching up with the new friends I made!! I have the blue 1969 GTO convertible.

    Regards

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    • Hi Ernie, thanks for your comments! Your car was gorgeous, and I tried very hard to get a shot of it but never was able to capture the right angle without people in the picture. Hope you can come back with it next month. Best, Richard

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  4. Even though the show didn’t have large numbers, the variety of vehicles is impressive. Given that it was the first show of the season and in a new location, it bodes well for subsequent events. I noticed that in addition to posing by your Miata, the only other car you appear with is the 4C. Planning ahead?
    It’s nice to have Spring once again being a time of optimism and people looking forward to being out and about!

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    • “I brake for Alfas”. Haha, Bob, you guessed correctly: I’m getting my wife used to the idea of seeing me with a 4C… Seriously, everyone was so ready to attend an event after the year we just had; it was a joy just to be out in the sunshine. Best, Richard

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