In 2012, the NJ Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) held its 59th annual car show on its traditional date, the first Sunday in May. The show was held in the parking lot of the Automatic Switch Company in Florham Park, NJ. The Region had been using this location as far back as anyone could remember, possibly since the 1960s. However, just a few years after these shots were taken, the Automatic Switch lot was no longer available and the Region was forced to find a new locale.
These photographs were taken with a film camera, and since I don’t have any record of digital pictures from this event, the ones below are the only photos I have of the show (see sidebar if you’re interested in details about the camera and film used).
At its peak, the NJ Region’s annual show was known to attract between 250 and 300 automobiles. Without knowing the time of day my photos were snapped, don’t be too judgmental about the ‘gaps’ in the parking lot. It may well be that I took my photos in the morning as cars were still arriving. Since I was in charge of setting up and running the PA system for the club at these shows, I had work to do and did not have the luxury of wandering the show field all day.
As the scanned photos are smaller than the digital photos you’re used to seeing here, you many find it especially helpful to click on each photo, then click on it again to enlarge it to fill your screen.
From this vantage point, we can see mainly cars from the 1960s and ’70s.
I don’t exactly recall the point of the doodled-up truck, but it may have served as an attraction for any children in attendance.
This out-of-focus shot features what look like Ford Model A’s.
1967 Buick Wildcat convertible
Mercedes-Benz 190 SL roadster
Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider
Detail of 1958 Mercury tail light
Detail of wood on a Chrysler Town & Country
Jump seats in what I recall was a stretched-wheelbase early ’50s Chrysler
Huppmobile (note the “H” on radiator shell and as hood ornament), early ’30s?
My friend Ron with his 1936 Packard convertible
The trophy table, awaiting the announcement of the day’s winners
SIDEBAR: The Ciro-flex 120 film camera and Kodak VC160 film
I’ve been collecting film cameras for about 15 years, and I actually take pictures with the ones in my possession. This Ciro-flex camera, made in Delaware, Ohio, is the only non-Kodak U.S.-made camera I own, and luckily, it takes the readily-available 120 film size, rather than the 620 film that Kodak forced consumers to use (Kodak made out because they were the ones producing the 620 film).
I bought the camera at the Rose Bowl flea market in California, I think in 2009, and paid $25 for it. It’s a dual-lens reflex camera. The top opens, and one gazes into a ground glass while holding the camera at about waist level. It can be manually focused, and both the aperture and shutter speed are adjustable. The focal length is set at 85 mm.
For these shots, I used Kodak’s VC160 film. “VC” stands for “vivid color” (as opposed to “NC” film, or “neutral color”). It’s a bright film, and while I’ve read that some photographers find the colors to be over-saturated, I like the look. The 160 in the film name refers to the film speed. When I was shooting 35mm almost exclusively, most film I used was either 100 or 200 speed, so the 160 is almost exactly in between.
Focusing the Ciro-flex is tricky. The ground glass is hazy, and you get a clear image in it only in the brightest lights. As you can see, the focus is better in some photos than in others. In a perfect world, I’d use the camera often enough to become more accustomed to it, when in fact I use this one sporadically. Overall, though, I greatly enjoy shooting with film, because it forces me to slow down the process, think before pushing the shutter button, and delivers photos with that old-world quality look which I just don’t get from digital.
All photographs copyright © 2023 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.