If there had been any doubts that eastern Pennsylvania is the center of the automotive hobby in these United States, my visit to Macungie, PA, this weekend to attend “Das Awkscht Fescht”, now in its 59th year, removed those doubts. How fortunate am I, living in the metro NY/NJ region my entire life, that shows in the Pennsylvania towns of Macungie, Carlisle, Hershey, New Hope, and Harrisburg are all within an easy one-day round-trip drive? Add to that the longevity of these events: I first attended Carlisle in the late ‘70s, Hershey in the early ‘80s, and Macungie in the early ‘90s. New Hope’s website claims they are in their 65th year. Mecum’s Harrisburg auction, a newcomer to these parts, began in 2015 and I haven’t missed one yet.
Yes, we know about “Monterey” in California, a long-standing tradition every August. It’s grown to gargantuan proportions, combining multiple shows and auctions into a jam-packed week. Amelia Island in Florida in March is referred to by some as the “Monterey of the East”, again with shows and auctions running back-to-back. However, these are once-a-year programs on the calendar, without any other nearby automotive events during the rest of the year. The Keystone State calendar starts with Carlisle in April, then the Hershey Elegance in June, Mecum Harrisburg in July, Das Awkscht Fescht and New Hope in August, Carlisle again in September, and concludes with Hershey in October. All these shows are well-attended by car owners and spectators alike, and the collector car club support acts as a backbone, ensuring consistency year after year. This tally doesn’t count the marque-specific Carlisle events, club-sponsored local shows, or the incredible museums in the state such as the Simeone in Philly.
Back to Macungie 2022: it’s a 3-day event and always has been, with some variety each of the days. Saturday seems to bring out the largest number of cars and so it was my choice again for this year. The weather was hot and humid, but the occasional breeze and some intermittent cloudiness helped alleviate the dog days of August. Attendance was excellent, even if some areas of the field never filled to capacity. (In fairness, I saw cars arriving as late as noon, so the field may have seen its ranks swell a bit.) While it’s mostly American cars, the pre-war turnout is strong. The decades of the ‘50s and ‘60s are also well-represented. Import vehicles, led this year by a special field of British cars, provided some variety.
Similar to what I’ve done at Hershey, I find it a huge advantage to arrive early and photograph vehicles as they drive in. The gates opened at 7:30 a.m., and I situated myself and my trusty Sony (this time using my prime 85mm telephoto lens) along the entrance path and snapped away. Later, I walked the entire show and captured many of the cars that I didn’t get to see drive in under their own power. While I was unable to enter a car of my own this year, I conversed with numerous friends on the field who had brought cars, and I hope to join the fun in a more engaging way for next year’s big 60th anniversary!
WARNING! MASSIVE PHOTOGRAPHIC CONTENT AHEAD!
The Morning Parade:
Sometimes, the smallest cars make the grandest entrances:
On the showfield:
British cars were set apart from the rest in their own special part of the field:
Is the “new” Mini “mini”?
This car was parked among the Brits. When I teased the owner about it, he retorted, with a knowing wink in his eye, “well, the Smiths gauges are British!”
What constitutes a “bargain”? Is it always limited to an “on sale” price? Does a bargain happen when a seller is unsure of an item’s value and lets it go for a lowball offer? Is it possible that when an entire category (think housing) is deemed expensive that anything which sells below market, no matter its condition, is perceived as a bargain?
The definition of a bargain has been discussed a lot lately in the superheated collector car market. Starting sometime in 2020, soon after the Covid pandemic shutdown, prices of special interest cars skyrocketed. In some cases, certain cars saw their values double and triple compared to one or two years prior. Vehicles that were previously deemed uninteresting were bringing silly money, especially at online auctions. It has gotten to the point where some collectors have opined that “any running, driving collector car for under $15,000 is a ‘bargain’”.
There’s that word again. When I attended Day 1 of Mecum’s 2022 Harrisburg auction (their first time back in PA since before the pandemic), it was because I knew from past experience that any potential bargains happen early in the proceedings. My auction report below covers the sale of 11 cars which I found interesting, 10 of which sold on Wednesday, and one on Thursday. All the cars below sold between $5,000 and $22,000. Not all were bargains (looking at you, 2002). However, as I’ve heard myself repeatedly state, if you are looking for a collector car, have between $10k and $20k to spend, and most importantly are open-minded about make and model, there are indeed some bargains to be had.
Vehicles are listed in ascending sale price order. Listed sale price is the HAMMER price and does NOT include the 10% buyer’s premium.
Lot #W67, 1937 Pontiac 2-door sedan. Black paint, plaid seat covers over very worn tan upholstery. Red wheels with newer looking whitewall tires. Six cylinder, 3-speed. Much of the exterior glass is cracked and/or delaminated. No reserve sale.
SOLD for $5,000. We had a long talk with a bidder was fiddling with the car the entire time. (I thought at first he was the owner.) He claimed that the car was in good shape and that he was going to buy it, however, we saw a young man, perhaps in his early 20s, who was the winning bidder. Hope he has fun with it.
Lot #W132, 1991 Honda Civic Si, 2-door sedan, red, black interior. 108 HP 4-cylinder engine with 5-speed manual gearbox. Odometer shows 119,131 miles. Looks clean for its age and mileage, and more strikingly, appears unmodified. May have been painted at one point to a less than professional standard.
SOLD for $8,500. Miles are low for a 30-year-old Honda. Aside from sketchy repaint, there were no glaring faults. Let’s hope the new owner drives it and avoids any temptation to make mods, which thankfully all previous owners were able to do.
Lot #W36, 1971 BMW 2002 2-door sport sedan, dark blue, black vinyl interior, odometer shows 84k miles. Windshield label claims “in climate-controlled storage since 1987”, but must have lived a rough life prior to that. Extensive rust throughout body and engine compartment.
SOLD for $9,000. A shockingly high result, even in this overinflated age. I had pegged it at 5 grand max. I thought I heard the auctioneer state that it was sold to an online bidder, who may have thought the car looked good in photos.
Lot #W57, 1982 Chevrolet El Camino, two-tone tan and beige, tan interior. 350 V8, automatic, A/C. Sign states recent repaint. Little to fault cosmetically.
SOLD for $10,500. El Caminos will always have a following, although it’s the Chevelle-based ones from the 1960s and early ‘70s which generate the most interest. Still, given the popularity of pickup trucks of all sizes and ages, and the behemoths which pass for full-size trucks today, it’s easy to look at something so reasonably sized like this one from 1982 and understand the attraction.
Lot #T130, 1970 Lincoln Continental Mark III, pale green, dark green vinyl top, black interior. 460 V8, fully equipped with all the luxury features of 1970.
SOLD for $10,500. This sold on Thursday, so while we didn’t see this one cross the block, we got the sale result from Mecum’s website. The right people weren’t in the room. This was a #3+ condition car which sold for #4 money. I can only guess that the green colors held it back.
Lot #117, 1986 Jeep Comanche pickup truck, dark blue, tan interior, V6 and automatic. Sign claims 58k miles. Factory A/C, power steering and brakes, radio, and not much else.
SOLD for $13,500. Might seem like a lot for an ‘80s pickup truck, but given what Chevy and Ford versions are selling for, this price seems fair. Besides, if you like having something different, this is the ticket.
Lot #W106, 1960 Ford Thunderbird 2-door hardtop, bronze, white painted top, bronze interior, wire wheels, whitewall tires. Sign states “Special Edition”; not sure what that includes, but this car had factory air, super rare sliding sunroof, and porthole windows. No reserve sale.
SOLD for $18,000. Last year of the Squarebirds, of which I’m not a big fan. However, the color combo, condition, and perhaps most importantly, options on this one made for an appealing package. This might have been a bit of a bargain at this price.
Lot #W147, 1963 Buick Riviera, black on black. First year for GM’s first “personal luxury car” to compete with Ford’s Thunderbird. Appears done to correct original standards except for unattractive aftermarket wheels, but they should be an easy fix. Well-equipped from factory, except lacks A/C.
SOLD for $20,000. Imagine that it’s 1963, you have about $5,000 burning a hole in your pocket, and you’re in the market for a new car. Your choices include 3 new cars introduced this model year: the Riviera, the Corvette Sting Ray, and the Studebaker Avanti. Oh, and although it was introduced in 1961, let’s throw in the Jaguar XKE. If you needed yours to be a 4-seater, and you (correctly) had doubts about Studebaker’s longevity as a manufacturer, the Riv wins. It’s amazing these first-gen Rivieras aren’t worth more. This one sold a little under current market.
Lot #W107, 1965 VW Beetle 2-door sedan, red, grey/white interior. Appears freshly restored to decent standard. Sign claims upgraded from 6V to 12V electrics (necessary to power those LED headlights which were added). Cheeky little thing.
SOLD for $20,000. When I was a younger man and first started going to car shows, I swore that VW Beetles would never become collectible. I was very wrong. The world will never forget the Beetle.
Lot #W87, 1968 Mercury Cyclone GT (sign states Fastback, but car is notchback). Burgundy, black vinyl top, black interior, gold stripe, full wheel covers, whitewall tires. 302 V8, 4-speed manual, bucket seats and center console. Exterior and interior in good to very good condition, engine compartment could use a detailing.
SOLD for $20,500. As we have seen time and again, it’s the Fords that bring the bucks while similar Mercurys, which cost more when new, don’t perform as well. This was a rare model in a rare body style. The 4-speed was the big attraction. A sold deal for the FoMoCo fan looking for something a little different.
Lot #W146, 1929 Ford Model A roadster, green body, black top and fenders, yellow wire wheels with whitewall tires. Appears to be an older restoration. We spoke briefly with the owner who claimed that the car “runs well”.
SOLD for $22,000. It’s unusual to see pre-war cars at a Mecum auction, but this was one of several that crossed the block, and that was just on Wednesday. Interest in these old sleds is far from dead, even though anyone who would have bought this new has long since gone to the great salvage yard in the sky.
The Neshanic Station (NJ) combination flea market and car show was held on Saturday July 16, 2022. As this show is all but three miles from my house, my Alfa Romeo and I were there. Last year, its inaugural season, I was able to make it there four times. This year’s visit was my first since July 17, 2021, making almost a year to the day since I last attended.
It was warm, but not unbearably so, when I arrived a little after 8 a.m. There were already about a dozen cars parked on the field, and about a dozen more arrived after I did, so the turnout was very respectable. Last year, the show organizers tried hosting shows twice a month. This year they have been keeping to a once-a-month schedule, but a change for 2022 is the addition of a trophy for “best car”. Not sure what the judging criteria is, and I left before any winners were announced. If the possibility of a trophy or some other prize helps encourage participation, I’m all for it. I just don’t need something else collecting dust on a shelf.
In addition to the usual domestic machinery, there were a few of those funny foreign cars on display, and I made acquaintances with their friendly owners. Anthony drove down from South Orange (about 45 minutes away) in his Bertone X1/9. (If you’re unfamiliar, when Fiat left the U.S. market in the early 1980s, Bertone took over production of the Fiat X1/9 and imported it with Bertone badges in place of the Fiat emblems.) His was a little crusty around the edges, but he proudly showed me all the maintenance and repair work he’s undertaken since he bought the car. I got the impression that this is the first car on which he’s ever wrenched, and he attributed helpful YouTube videos to providing the needed knowledge. I was impressed with his nerve, cleverness, and ingenuity, especially given that he’s working on a car that went out of production over 30 years ago.
Joe was a bit more local; he drove over from Bound Brook in his 1970 Datsun 240Z, the first year for this pivotal sports car. He had recently completed some major restoration work, and the car looked great. As we were talking, he let it be known that he also has a Volvo 122 station wagon, and he said he actually prefers driving the Volvo over the Datsun. In either case, his love of smaller import machinery was most obviously made when he described how much he loathes driving his wife’s GMC SUV!
I left the show field close to 11 a.m., yet I was not the first to depart. The size and variety of the turnout gave me the impression that the show organizers were having a great day. I hope to attend several more times this year before the season winds down.
It was good to be back. Both sides of Main St. were lined with a nice variety of special-interest cars. The sidewalks weren’t too crowded, and the warm summer New Jersey air, to my great relief, lacked the usual humidity. I strolled up and down the blocks several times, after which my wife drove into town so that we could share a pizza at the well-regarded Alfonso’s. By the time we were done, it was getting dark and having seen what I was there to see, we headed home.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the town of Somerville was at first against the entire Cruise Night idea. But once they saw the crowds and the business these crowds brought to the local establishments, everyone was on board. Perhaps later this summer I’ll swing back and bring one of my own cars to park on Main St.
There were plenty of Corvettes in attendance: I spotted C2, C3, C5, C6, and C7 generations parked along the street. In addition, at least 3 different C8 Vettes were seen cruising up and down the main drag.
Triumph TR-6 sports cars seem to have survived in large numbers compared to some other ’70s sports cars
DeTomaso Pantera. Drivetrain axle yokes are the size of my skull; they need to be to put that power down.
I thought this pre-war (’39? ’40?) Plymouth was snazzy
A 1968 King Midget. Had a long talk with the owner (Clifford) and we compared notes about what it’s like to own a small quirky car like a King Midget or Isetta.
Alfonso’s is one of the best Italian restaurants in the area. We walked in and were told (this at 7 p.m.) that the wait for an inside table would be 25 minutes, and for an outside table, 40 minutes. Instead, we sat at the bar to eat pizza and drank beer.
My wife found a roll of 8mm movie film in a closet a few weeks ago. Her stepfather was an avid photographer who also liked to shoot movies. The handwriting on the metal film canister dated the shoots as spanning the years 1971-1973.
I had it transferred to a digital format so we could watch it. It was mostly typical family home movie stuff, but it was the cars that caught my attention. Forty years ago, these were the sedans and station wagons that everyone drove (no SUVs in sight, and pickups were primarily driven by farmers). Today, a collector car enthusiast would find every one of these vehicles to be of some interest.
The screenshots are all blurry. The slow 8mm film speed combined with the digitizing made it impossible to freeze the view and end up with a crystal-clear image. (We are also all quite spoiled by the sharpness of our modern digital image-making tools.) However, the cars are still identifiable!
The biggest surprise of the film is that my wife’s stepdad filmed an antique car show. Given the early ‘70s time period, I fully expected to see only pre-war (before World War 2) vehicles at the show. As you’ll see below, that was not the case.
There are many more film canisters in the closet. We’ll get around to transferring the others someday.
The Murray family’s 1967 Dodge Polara station wagon: Note the Pentastar on the front fender, full wheel covers, whitewall tires, right outside mirror, long rear quarter glass, and lack of a roof rack. From what the family has told me, this was a 9-passenger vehicle.
Taken in or near Bird-in-Hand, PA, this appears to be a 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle 2-door. Can’t see if it’s a post car or not, as the Amish fellow is in the way.
A motel parking lot, again in PA. From left to right: A Lincoln Mark III, Plymouth Valiant, and first-gen Ford Mustang.
The same parking lot: a 1971 Pontiac (making it an almost new car) and a Datsun 510 sedan, complete with vinyl roof, I’d guess a dealer add-on.
If you thought that the only thing worth celebrating this past Saturday, June 18, was Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, you would be wrong! An equally joyous event was held that day at the Mahwah NJ Dunkin’ Donuts on MacArthur Blvd., and that was our first Saturday (as opposed to Sunday) Cars & Coffee event.
Early arrivals had their cars parked before 8:30 a.m., and most of the ten drivers who showed up were in place by 9. The local Dunkin’ did its usual fine job of serving up bagels, muffins, and hot coffee, while we men eschewed chairs and spread ourselves out standing around the parking lot.
Although this wasn’t advertised in advance, you can imagine that a DD can get busy on a Saturday morning, and more than a few locals wandered over to gaze at the morning’s collection of American (4), German (4), and Italian (2) machinery. All four domestic vehicles were GM products, while the four German cars were evenly split between BMW and Porsche. The Alfa Romeo brand represented 100% of the Italian cars. It’s nice to see the variety of vehicles that our informal gang brings out.
We had our fill of each other by 10:30, and the departure from the parking lot almost resembled a Le Mans start. The Saturday choice was an experiment; the turnout was about average, far from the largest number we have had show up. We’ll decide down the road whether to switch back to Sunday, or leave Saturday as an alternate selection during the driving season.
This was not the first time I’ve driven a collector car in the Readington Township Memorial Day parade. In 2009, the little red bubble car (AKA the Isetta) thrilled the crowd as its 13 hp motor pushed its 770 lb. along Main Street. This year, driving the 90 hp Alfa (at 2,000 lb., its power-to-weight ratio beats the Isetta by a factor of 3), the green machine was not quite the attention-getter that the BMW was. (One person did scream out “an Alfa!” and got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the owner/driver.)
Fresh off the Hillsborough Memorial Day parade on Saturday, Readington’s was on Monday. Arriving at the designated parking lot, I quickly saw that I was out of my element. The Corvette Club was there in full force, fielding a group of cars mostly from the ‘90s and ‘00s. The Mustang Club was present as well, with almost exclusively current-gen cars. Although I was there at the invitation of the NJ Chapter of the AACA, there was not a single other club member I recognized, nor did the AACA event chair ever show his face to me.
There was a smattering of classics from the ‘60s and ‘70s, so I did have some company. As a real change of pace, my wife and two or our grandchildren joined me inside the Afla, and the young ones got a kick out of waving to the crowds along Main St.
The Hillsborough parade had better prep and much more club participation. If I have the choice, I would like not drive the Readington parade again unless I knew that club members planned to attend in force.
THE PERCEPTIVE 8-YEAR-OLD
My middle grandchild, the adorable 8-year-old pictured here, climbed into the back seat of the Alfa. We hadn’t even begun to move when she proclaimed “Pops, where’s the seat belt?” “Honey, there are no belts, this is an old car, and Pops is not going to drive faster than 5 miles-per-hour”. Next question: “Pops, does this car have CRANK windows?” “YES it does! And how do you know about crank windows?” “We learned about them in school.” (What, is there a 2nd grade course called “Old Fashioned Automotive Technology”? Then after playing with the hinged compartment built into the rear seat interior panel, she asked “Pops, what is this for?” “Oh, honey, that’s called an ash tray. When people used to smoke cigarettes, they would flick the ash from the cigarette into that ash tray.”
I hope this means I don’t need to worry about her taking up smoking.
This past Saturday, May 28, 2022, was my 4th time driving a collector car in the Hillsborough NJ Memorial Day parade. I reported on my drives in 2017, 2018, and 2019; in 2020 and 2021, either the parades were cancelled (Covid or weather) or I was unable to participate.
Participation was again sponsored by the NJ Region of the AACA. In all, about 18 cars paraded along the 1.5 mile route. Driving my Alfa this year, I was joined by a lineup that greatly differed from the vehicles in the 2019 edition of the parade. It was a nice change of pace to see some different cars and meet some members who normally don’t join in club events.
There’s always a great turnout of locals lining the streets. One of the best things about the Hillsborough parade is seeing the throngs waving their flags and waving at the drivers. Pointing my camera out the window actually encourages them to wave more fervently.
Parade speed is below 5 m.p.h., and this is when a manual gearbox car is at a disadvantage. There was too much slipping of the clutch required, so I increased my distance between my car and the car in front of me, allowing me to remain in first gear longer.
At the parade’s end, we did something different this year: the collector cars were ushered into a parking lot alongside the Municipal Building, and a mini car show was held. Parade attendees then got a chance to see the vehicles which had cruised past them earlier up close. The Hillsborough parade, with a starting point only 15 minutes from my house, remains on my annual calendar.
Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, will always signify the Lime Rock Park Fall Vintage weekend to me. Since first discovering the event in the early 1990’s, I’ve made it my mission to attend the “Sunday in the Park” portion, the static car show on the track itself, every year if possible.
Perusing my picture archives uncovered photos of breathtaking automobiles from the 2013 event which have not been posted by me yet. The sky is very overcast in all the pictures, and while I have no memory of the weather from that day nine years ago, the clouds created a wonderful umbrella of diffused light for my camera.
Italian vehicles comprise the majority of the shots, including two unusual trucks. I may have had Italian cars on my mind more than usual, having purchased my 1967 Alfa Romeo just six months prior. There are several British and Swedish marques represented as well. Lime Rock is not an easy ride for me: it’s close to three hours each way, yet it will always remain a must-see event, time and weather permitting.
On the morning of May 15, 2022, we had our first breakfast drive event of the year, and drive we did! It was the first time since June of last year that we drove a route with a planned destination, and it was the first time since our static Cars & Coffee soiree of August 29, 2021, that we got our little group together. The weekend forecast was not favorable, although threats of actual rain were called off for Sunday morning. Nevertheless, the day dawned foggy and humid, which likely contributed to a light turnout of five vehicles.
We five met at our usual spot in front of the Mahwah Sheraton, and Larry did an excellent job of planning a route north through New York a bit before we dipped back into New Jersey, finally getting on Route 513 South which comprised the majority of the miles driven. Our destination was the same as last June, the Red Hut Diner on Route 46 in Rockaway, NJ.
We sat outside under a tent, although we needed it neither for shade nor water protection. It was quite comfortable outside, and we chatted about our favorite subject as usual: pencil manufacturing the car hobby.
Our waitress did an outstanding job ensuring that coffee cups never ran dry, and since we were the only patrons at the outside tables, they didn’t rush us out of there. Contrary to a forecast which predicted sunnier skies as the day progressed, we began to see dark clouds roll in, which kept the convertible tops of the Alfa, Porsche, and Miata in their raised positions.
It’s difficult to believe that summer is but five weeks away; our hope is to get at least one more event on the calendar before the longest day of the year brings unbearable heat with it. We’ll work on that schedule while we hope for a larger turnout next time.