My photos tell the tale: the weather during Hershey week 2011 was as pleasant as October in Pennsylvania can be, as borne out by the abundant sunshine and the swarms of car enthusiasts dressed in light outerwear. By this point in time, I had been a regular attendee at what is formally known as the Antique Automobile Club of America’s Eastern Fall Nationals. My first visit to Hershey was around 1980, and I returned only sporadically over the next 20 years, as Carlisle was more to my interest. Starting around 2001, when I joined the National AACA club, Hershey became a mandatory entry on my calendar except for the one year when an out-of-town business trip forced me to miss it. The five-day event, culminating with the Saturday judged show, consists of three segments: in addition to the show are the vast flea market and the Car Corral. (The RM auction at the Hershey Lodge, while not an AACA-sanctioned event, is always timed to occur during Hershey week and is supported by AACA.)
THE CAR CORRAL
I tend to focus on the rare or unusual cars in the Car Corral, along with any which strike me as potentially good deals. This year, the most unusual of the lot was this 1953 Fiat Topolino (the owner can be forgiven for his misspelling of it as ‘Topolina’), obviously a #5 condition car, and offered at $5,500 OBO. Wikipedia reveals this to be a Model C, produced from 1949-1955, perhaps not as cute as the Models A and B, but still with enough il fascino (charm) to make it an attractive project. The “Fiat-Heuler, Frankfurt a. M.” is the German Fiat dealership in Frankfurt. Check out this beautiful restoration which sold last year on Bring a Trailer for $19,870.
I’ve said this before: if someone had bet me money in 2011 that VW Beetles would see a steady rise in values and collector interest over the next 10 years, I would have lost that bet. So with 10 years hindsight, does this look like a deal? Here’s a 1963 Bug convertible, claimed to be ‘all original’ (whatever that means for a collector car), offered at $4,300. It’s difficult to gauge condition from my two photos, but as long as there wasn’t terminal rot underneath, this one could have been cheap fun. (The closest comp I could find on Bring a Trailer was this ’60 convertible, obviously in better condition, which sold for $20,000 in Dec. 2021.)
I have spilled considerable digital ink extolling my exploits in my rally buddy’s Sunbeam Tiger. The Tiger’s concept was similar to the better-known Cobra: take a British sports car, toss the smaller engine, and install an American lump of a V8. In the Tiger’s case, the ‘donor’ car was the Sunbeam Alpine, factory-powered by an inline four. The Car Corral had this 1964 version, with its asking price already lowered from $3,700 to $3,400. To me, that’s an instant indication that the owner is getting anxious and is ready to listen to offers. The red paint is oxidized, and the bumpers lack luster, but I bet it was driven into and out of the Corral under its own power. Bring a Trailer has had plenty on offer. Most appear to be fully restored, and many don’t reach their reserves. They did sell this ’64 project car in 2019 for $5,300.
The original AMC AMX, which debuted in 1968 when I was a young teen, was a car I always found attractive. Its shortened wheelbase and deleted rear seat put it in a class above the typical pony cars of the day; I saw it as a more affordable version of that other 2-seat sports car, the Corvette. I photographed this one because I like silver over red. The price caught my eye too, compared to what you’d pay for a similar Camaro or Mustang. As it sat in the Car Corral, the price was dropping, so a deal could have been made. This one had the small 290 V8, and almost every first gen AMX on BaT is listed with the 390. My CPI value guide lists the ’68-’70 AMX as worth between $16,000 and $35,000 for a good to excellent one, so in this case, let’s hope it was bought to enjoy rather than to profit from.
Sometimes the more interesting cars for sale are not in the Car Corral, but are rather found scattered within the flea market. This 1940 Continental convertible was tucked among the tents and tables, with an asking price of $75,000. The 1940 model year was a stylistic high-water mark for the Ford Motor Company, and first gen Continentals had the further advantage of a 12-cylinder version of Ford’s famous flathead engine. The 1939-1948 Continentals are on the official list of Approved Full Classics from the CCCA (Classic Car Club of America), a distinction not to be taken lightly.
THE SATURDAY PARADE AND CAR SHOW
Ever since accidentally discovering that Saturday’s earliest attendees gain the additional enjoyment of watching show cars arrive under their own power, it’s been a highlight of Hershey week to set the alarm for 6, grab a bagel and coffee to go, and hunt down the best vantage point.
With vehicles arranged by class (typically year/make/model) it’s best to wander to where your interests lie, as the vast show field is almost impossible to completely cover in one day. Many years ago, I read this advice in a photo magazine: move closer to your subject, and when you think you’ve moved close enough, move even closer. With cars, it can sometimes be more interesting to focus on only a portion (the crowds sometimes thwart all effort to snap the entire vehicle anyway). I’ve tried that effect for several of these shots.
All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.