My 2006 visit to the AACA Fall Eastern Meet, better known as “Hershey”, was likely the 5th consecutive year I attended. Before that, most of my trips to eastern PA car shows were to Carlisle. However, Hershey’s focus on original cars which were 25 years and older was becoming a more attractive proposition to me.
Hershey has had a long history with mud. Ask any oldtimer, and they can regale you with stories of mud up to the knees, and classic cars buried in mud up to their axles. While more and more of the field area was gradually becoming paved, in 2006, not all of it was on asphalt yet. One photo in particular documents what appear to be Car Corral vehicles parked across the street from Hershey Park, on the lawn in front of the Hotel Hershey. There’s lots of sunshine as well so the infamous and soon to be gone Hershey mud was not a factor that year.
Ever since my rally brother Steve and I discovered it in the late 1990s, the spectacle of witnessing the Saturday morning parade of show cars has been a must-see part of the Hershey visit. Several of these photos capture that parade, as disorganized as it may appear! Take a note of all the spectators alongside the cars, enjoying the same sights as I was.
The big surprise of 2006 was the special display trucked in by General Motors. They dipped into their “GM Heritage Vehicle Collection” and brought a number of cars and trucks which were set up in a special area near the Giant Center. The most outstanding of them, in several ways, was the GM Futurliner. I had been reading articles about these massive vehicles for years. In January of 2006, a Futurliner sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction for $4 million. More shocking to me was their size, something difficult to capture in photographs. It makes me wonder how GM was able to move it; but of course, being GM, they have all kinds of vehicles and equipment at their disposal. And if you’re asking yourself “why is there a Saab near the Futurliner?”, it is because GM had purchased Saab and included several of the Swedish brand’s models in its display. A stretch? I thought so then, and still think so now.
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.
A few days ago, I posted a photograph of a Volvo 480ES which I had taken in the parking lot of Volvo Corporate Headquarters in NJ, sometime in early 1987. I added a comment of my own at that auction, and posted a link to the photo, promising that I would flesh out the story, as I have below.
I started working at VCNA (Volvo Cars North America) in October of 1986. My recollection is that I spotted a Volvo 480 in and around the corporate industrial park within my first few weeks. I also recall meeting Bob Austin, head of the Public Relations Department for the company, around the same time, and his ‘company car’ was a 480ES! It may have been the only one the company had, or they may have been others, of that I’m not sure. But it was well-understood among the employees that VCNA intended to begin importation of this Dutch-built car, planning on a 1987 launch. Volvo dealers had been clamoring for a less-expensive model, and management thought that this new 480 could be it. In 1986, VCNA was selling 240- and 740-series models, carrying MSRPs between $15,000 and $21,000. (The 760 models were more expensive still.) The 480 would need to slide in under that to make sense.
Not only was the 480 Volvo’s first FWD car; if imported, it would become the first U.S. Volvo brought in from Volvo BV, based in Holland. The factory was co-owned: 30% Volvo, 70% the Dutch government. As an insider, I sensed that there were some concerns: Would it be perceived as a “true” Volvo? Would it be up to the same quality standards as the existing U.S. models? Would the new FWD technology be embraced? (Some of the company’s marketing in the 1980s bragged about our RWD powertrain.) And perhaps most importantly, could it be priced below the 240s, but also at a number which would make it competitive against other like-sized models?
My copy of the book “Volvo The Cars – From the 20s to the 80s”, by Bjorn-Eric Lindh, was published in 1986. Interestingly, there is a two-page spread on the 480 (b&w images below). The book’s text states in part:
“Given Volvo’s world-famous reputation for quality and durability, the new 480ES is almost certain to become a major competitor in its class, particularly in the USA…. Initially, annual output will total approximately 35,000 units, 25,000 of which will be destined for the American market.”
Those are heady numbers, given that during the years 1987 through 1989, U.S. Volvo sales totals were between 98,000 and 106,000, meaning the 480 would represent 25% of that. However, after months of planning, VCNA management realized that the exchange rate would be a roadblock to any plan to sell the 480 at the right price (at least that was the official line as spelled out in the letter sent to all U.S. Volvo dealers).
America would have to wait until model year 1993 for the launch of the all-new Volvo 850, our first FWD car, and one designed and built in Sweden to boot. In the meanwhile, the 480 sold respectably well in Europe. I have a Volvo internal publication which states that the 480 existed from model year 1986 to model year 1995, and that the company built 76,375 of them (making that earlier prediction a bit of a stretch!). I suspect that Volvo felt the car was a success, and despite its Dutch parentage, it likely gave the company some needed experience in FWD technology.
If any of my fellow former-VCNA colleagues have any additional recollections (or corrections), please share them!
Last week, two buddies and I made a long-overdue return visit to the AACA Museum in Hershey, PA. While “AACA” is in the name, this statement of clarification is on the Museum’s website: The AACA Museum, Inc. has been and remains an independent 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, not affiliated with the Antique Automobile Club of America.
I know very little of the story and don’t care to know the details, so let’s just say that there was a courtship which ended in an ugly breakup. In spite of the divorce, it was a happy surprise that my National AACA membership card gained me free entrance!
Most of the vehicles on display were not the same as we saw in 2017. The Museum is known for rotating what’s on the floor, and the curators are also known for putting on special exbibits, all of which keeps it fresh for repeat visitors. This time, it was racing cars which were featured. Although I don’t count myself as a rabid fan of the sport, there was still plenty of history to be absorbed.
A constructive comment about the displays: I appreciate the Museum’s efforts to create dioramas for all the cars, and that space is somewhat at a premium. As a photographer, though, it was very challenging to take pictures that showed an entire vehicle while keeping other vehicles and distractions out of the frame. As a result, many of these snaps show most, but not all, of the cars.
A permanent display which was little-changed since our last visit was the Tucker Exhibit. A private collector, David Cammack, began collecting Tucker cars, parts, and memorabilia in the early 1970s. He eventually willed the entirety of it to the Museum. Even though I’ve seen it several times before, there are fascinating aspects of the Tucker story which are worth revisiting.
While wandering around the bottom floor (there are 3 levels), a Museum employee engaged with us and offered to take us back into a work area normally off-limits to the public. There, we saw some vehicles being prepped for their turn in the spotlight, and also learned that a regular troop of volunteers makes their way to the Museum to lend a helping hand with the cars. It sounded to this writer like a possible future activity in which to participate.
For those who have been to Hershey and have not taken in a tour of the Museum, it’s worth the detour. It is located perhaps 10 minutes from Hersheypark Drive, and admission is $12, $10.50 for seniors, and as I mentioned above, free if you belong to the AACA.
THE RACE CARS
I spotted the two DeLoreans side-by-side from a distance at first, and snapped the first photo while noting that one looked a bit lower than the other, and didn’t give it much more thought. I was a shock to get closer, read the placard, and learn about this previously-unknown prototype:
Hopefully you can see in these closer photos that the prototype shares few exterior body panels with the production car. The seats are different as well.
THE TUCKER EXHIBIT
Of the 51 Tuckers manufactured, David Cammack ended up owning 3, and all 3 are here in Hershey.
Engines comprise a large part of the display. Tucker experimented with many different ideas before deciding on a water-cooler flat-6 engine. The engine in red is an experimental engine with hydraulically-operated valves. It looks like a service nightmare.
THE LOWER LEVEL
The majority of the Museum’s displays are on the main level (in this case, the race cars, the Tuckers, the DeLoreans, and assorted other cars). The top level is a mezzanine with some scooters but no cars. The lower level has historically been primarily taken up with buses. This visit was the first time that I can recall seeing so many cars sharing space with the buses.
Our behind-the-scenes tour included sneak peeks at these cars:
It’s not just cars on display! In this hobby, everything is collectible.
I again found myself poring through old photo albums when I noticed that I had a few street scenes from 1984 and 1985 which I found interesting. Here they are, and here’s hoping you also find them of some interest.
I lived in Bloomfield from 1980 to 1989, and would occasionally take snapshots of parked and moving cars.
This shot was taken along a service road of the Garden State Parkway. I was practicing my panning. Here is a Subaru Coupe neck and neck with a Mercury Colony Park station wagon
The silver VW Scirocco on the right was mine, parked behind my apartment complex. Next to it are a very rusty mid-70’s Chevelle, and a 1965 Ford Fairlane, coming up on 20 years old, making it an ancient car for its time.
My college friend Beth came to visit me in Bloomfield. I think she bought this Subaru new. (I find it ironic that it’s a 2-door like the Subie above; this was back when Americans actually bought 2-door cars.) It’s probably FWD, as AWD was not yet standard across the board. Note the VW Squareback; when did you last see one in the wild?
SMYTHE VOLVO, SUMMIT NJ
I worked at this Volvo dealership from 1980 to 1986, and would sometimes bring my camera to work, if only to document some of the goings-on.
The dealership bought, then later demolished, an apartment building on an adjacent property. I had the camera ready to take some photos of the planned destruction. Note the Ford T-Bird and Honda Civic on the left, and various Volvos in for service on the right. And that’s our gal Friday, Sue, imploring me to not take her photograph!
Street parking near the dealership was non-existent. Management made a deal with the church across the street which allowed employees to park there (the lot, frankly, was practically vacant except on Sundays). Yes, an employee (a son of one of the dealer principals) commuted in a Volvo 1800. At the top of the row, next to the Chevy Caprice, is a VW Dasher diesel wagon driven by the Parts Manager. The silver wagon on the far right is my Audi Fox wagon.
The Service write-up counters and the Parts retail counter were inside the workshop. Customers entered a back door and literally walked among cars on the lifts. This is the view from my service advisor’s desk. The place looks incredibly dingy, yet I don’t remember it that way. I guess I got used to being in that environment on a daily basis.
I made a Christmastime trip with my girlfriend to visit her family in Iowa. We drove, and I didn’t trust the Audi to make the trip, so I rented this Tempo. It was among the first of Ford’s jellybean cars. The car performed just fine.
PARK SLOPE BROOKLYN, NY
These next two photos were taken in the Park Slope Brooklyn neighborhood where my girlfriend lived. This photo was heavily edited to focus on the cars. In the foreground are a Honda Civic and Toyota Tercel (I think). Across the street it’s harder to tell, but I will guess that the car on the left is a Datsun/Nissan, maybe a Sentra, and the one on the right a then-current Buick Riviera.
Yes, this Porsche 356 Coupe was parked on the street in Park Slope. What was it worth in 1984, a couple grand? My current edition of the CPI value guide pins this 356 SC at between $66k and $126k.
I’ve long enjoyed collecting automotive print publications, although perhaps I should switch to making that statement in the past tense, as I’ve reached critical mass on the shelves of my home library. First, there is the collection of Car & Driver magazines going back to the 1950s through the present. Then there are the hardcovers; much of my time at Hershey over the last 20 years has been spent scouring the flea market for titles to add to the collection. My wife often asks what I do with all these publications, and the truth is, I frequently pull one off its shelf and breeze through it. So it was with the book I am presenting here.
The book I am featuring this week, though, was not purchased by me, instead, it was gifted to me after it was uncovered by someone who thought I would enjoy it. The aptly titled “International Auto Parade, Vol. II”, was published in Zurich, Switzerland (interesting because that country does not have a native auto industry). It does an admirable job covering all the new vehicles available around the world. All the U.S. makes are there, as are cars from unexpected countries such as Czechoslovakia and Russia. To top it off, the text is in 6 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The book’s best feature are its sharp color photos. My favorites are of cars I’ve heard of but have never seen. Then there are the ones to drool over, such as the Ferraris. I’ve chosen 3 pages to highlight simply because the photography was especially striking. My Italian preferences really come through here, although there is one Japanese car to admire….
In my mind, Ferrari didn’t start to build tremendously sleek looking cars until the mid-1960s, but this trio of Modena sports cars from 1958 proves me wrong. The two 250 models had V-12 engines displacing 3.0 liters and putting out 240 HP. The 410 had a 4.9 V12 making 340 HP. I think I’ll take the Spyder.
The two Morettis look identical except for their roofs. The cars were based on Fiat mechanicals, and were at the opposite end of the scale from the Ferraris. Their 1200 cc engines put out 55 HP. Although I’ve read about them for years, I don’t believe I have ever seen one. However, if I came across one for the right price, I’d be interested!
At the bottom of the page is the Datsun 1100 Saloon, manufactured by the Nissan Motor Company of Yokohama Japan. Stare at this picture and remind yourself that in 12 short years they would introduce the 240Z sports car to the world.
My wife and I drove to Washington D.C. earlier this week to visit her brother, who has lived there for over 30 years. It had been a few years since we visited, and I was looking forward to a few relaxing days, taking in a couple of museums and strolling around his neighborhood. The last thing I expected was to find material for a blog post, but that is exactly what happened.
My wife wanted to see a quilt exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. However, before we got near any quilts, a full-size Ford grabbed my attention. A highly-modified 1969 Ford LTD, billed as “Dave’s Dream”, was featured on the main floor. It was cordoned off so that you couldn’t not get too close. It was the only car on display, and I can only surmise that the theme, in its own way, represents some slice of American History.
On an upper floor was a Richard Avedon photography exhibit. His black & white portraiture is stunning and striking, and part of the exhibit highlighted his start as a photographer for Life, Look, the Saturday Evening Post, and other long-gone weeklies. A nearby sitting area had actual magazines from the ‘40s and ‘50s available for browsing. I selected one at random and opened it, only to find a Willys Jeep ad, one I had never seen before. It was news to me that as early as the late 1940s, Willys-Overland was advertising the purported superior traction advantages of its Jeep.
The next day we strolled around a nearby residential area. A road was closed for construction work. A crew was using a gas-powered saw to slice through the asphalt, then using a backhoe to dig. To my surprise, they were doing this directly alongside a Chevrolet Malibu which had ignored the “don’t park here because we’re going to start work soon” signage. The crew was so far along that even if the owner wanted to relocate the car, it would necessitate driving on the sidewalk.
The garage for this BMW had this lovely mural painted on its side. Can we presume that the owner would rather be behind the wheel of the bullet-nose Studebaker?
In the same neighborhood as the marooned Malibu and the post-war poster car was this ancient Dodge Caravan, its paint long-lost to the elements. The roof rack was supporting sawn-off tree branches. (Also make note of the steering wheel lock, as if this thing is a likely target for thieves.) My brother-in-law said that the townhomes on this block sell in the $2 million+ range. I am beyond creating any rationale for the existence of this minivan.
In 2014, for the first and (so far) only time, I traveled up to Lime Rock for their Labor Day Vintage Race Weekend and took advantage of the ‘Gathering of the Marques’, which allows owners of certain automobiles to put their cars on display. That year, I drove my Mazda Miata to the show, and although I still had to pay full price to enter, I was allowed to circle the track, find the Miata group, and park with them.
There were several special treats this year, including displays of Fiat 500s, Fiat Abarths, and a personal appearance from famed race car driver Sir Stirling Moss. As is typical for Lime Rock, some of the cars in the parking lot are just as interesting as the ones in the show, and the paddocks are open to allow spectators to roam freely (but no touching!).
Another unique element to my visit is that I stayed overnight locally, which enabled me to take in some racing action. Photographing speeding vehicles is an art unto itself, and one that I need to practice more. Nevertheless, I was able to fire off a few shots of cars at speed that I trust my readers will find of interest.
The ACD (Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg) Club supports all 3 long-expired car makes with a series of shows and events throughout the year. The Club’s Annual Reunion is traditionally held each Labor Day weekend in Auburn, IN. I’ve long known about this Reunion from articles in the car magazines I regularly devour, and in 2002, I somehow convinced my wife that we should take a vacation including stops in Corning, NY at the Corning Glass Museum, Cleveland, OH for a visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum, and “since we’re so close”, a stayover in Auburn that just happened to land us there on Labor Day.
I had forgotten that I had these photos (taken with a film camera) and so I’m now sharing them on my blog for the first time. We were not registered for any events, so our participation involved entering the ACD Museum (an original ACD sales dealership) and wandering the nearby streets which were quite literally jammed with old cars.
Adding to the crowds was a Kruse auction running at the same time, so the automotive eye candy was not limited to the three featured marques. Nevertheless, my long fascination with Cords, combined with their abundance at the show, meant that most shots included them, with a few Auburns here and there (Duesenbergs were thin on the ground).
According to Wikipedia, the Cord L-29, introduced in 1929, was the first front wheel drive vehicle offered for sale to the American public. (However, a recent article in Hemmings Classic Car would seem to dispute that. The ‘splitting of the hair’ may come down to what is considered mass-produced. It’s also well-known that many racing cars which predated Cords were FWD.) The L-29 was somewhat traditionally styled so that its FWD underpinnings were not obvious. The succeeding model, the 810/812, was designed by Gordon Buehrig and was truly revolutionary, looking like nothing else on the road with its hidden headlamps, ‘coffin’ hood, and deleted running boards. These 2nd generation cars were built in convertible, phaeton, and sedan body styles for only two model years (1936-1937) before Cord went under. They are some of the most distinctive pre-war cars produced, and remain highly collectible among hobbyists today.
The stunning Art Deco design has been almost completely preserved compared to its original 1930s construction. A variety of vehicles are packed rather tightly within, including some non-ACD models (note the green ’56 T-Bird). A mezzanine afforded me the opportunity to take the overhead shots.
Vehicles were parked everywhere, and it was easy enough to take photographs. One got the sense that, like Bentley or Alfa Romeo owners, Cord owners are not reticent about driving their cars. If you reflect back to the vehicles seen in my post about the recent Glidden Tour, imagine driving a new Ford or Buick in 1936 and having a new Cord pull up next to you; the effect must have been paralyzing!