The RM Sotheby’s Hershey Auction, 2021

A personal highlight of the annual October sojourn to Hershey is the RM Sotheby’s auction, held just a few miles away from the showfield at the Hershey Lodge. I’ve reported extensively about previous RM Hershey auctions on this blog, and even though my 2021 visit was a one day in-and-out, I still found time to scoot over to The Lodge to take in the cars and some of the auction action.

RM Sotheby’s, at least at this location, prides itself on mainly featuring American iron, much of it pre-war (that would be World War II, which serves as a handy demarcation line, since no vehicles were produced in this country from 1942 to 1945). There continues to be much discussion about the relative value of these older pieces of machinery. For the most part, those who drove them when new have departed; and those who bought them as old used cars right after the war are also quickly vacating the premises.

Showcase cars are displayed inside pre-auction

 

The standard argument goes: “If those who had them in their younger years are no longer here, then their value has plummeted”. The reality is a bit more nuanced than that. Car collectors, at least many that I know (and I put myself in this category) have an appreciation for ALL vehicles. One respected observer of this scene whose acquaintance I’ve made told me that the cars of the nineteen teens, twenties, and thirties are gaining a new audience as collectors have learned to appreciate their styling, engineering, and standing in automotive history. As my pictures below will show, some of these cars have an undeniable stately presence that would be an appropriate fit in any collection, no matter how narrow or diverse. Values for pre-war cars may be off their highs of the early aughts, but they’re not selling for twenty cents on the dollar either. As further evidence, nine of the top ten sales at this auction were pre-war, with prices ranging between $170,000 and $1.5 million.

According to RM’s website, the two-day auction achieved a phenomenal 98% sell-through rate. Granted, many of them were no reserve, but many had reserves (for the cars I’ve reported on, the reserve status is stated). The tremendous sell-through can be chalked up to a combination of quality wares, reasonable reserves, and a continued hot collector car market.

A big part of the fun is sitting outside the entrance / exit door and watching these cars run under their own power. The crew handling that job was working non-stop to get some of these old jalopies started and keep them running (and hope that the brakes worked). By the time darkness fell, I was on my way, but it was a glorious way to end my 2021 Hershey visit.

The cars below are listed in ascending sale price order; sale prices were taken from the RM Sotheby’s website, and the 10% buyer’s premium was backed out, so the “sold” price shown is the hammer price.

 

Lot #285, 1973 Volvo 1800ES, 4-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate $25-30,000. No reserve. Sold for $30,000.

This was the final year for the 1800, and only the ES (station wagon) model was offered. Sold right at the high end of the estimate. CPI values a #2 car at $44,000, which this wasn’t, but 1800s continue to be popular at the moment. Fair price.

 

Lot #152, 1948 Alvis drophead coupe, 4-cylinder, 4-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate $45-70,000. No reserve. Sold for $34,000.

Alvis was never a big seller on this side of the pond, but I’ve seen a greater number of them come up for sale recently. The two-tone brown and tan wasn’t the most attractive, and the RHD is either a fun factor or a pain. Sold well below estimate. I hope it runs well, because I know nothing about parts availability.

 

Lot #305, 1958 Edsel Pacer convertible. First model year of Ford’s Fifties flop. Attractive two-tone white and red. Pre-sale estimate $40-50,000. No reserve. Sold for $34,000.

The risk of no reserve is just that, there is NO reserve. This car missed its low pre-sale estimate by eight grand. CPI values these between $44,000 and $84,000, which sounds generous. Still, this is a unique and historic fifties car that should be easily serviced and maintained. It could be a challenge to find another decent ‘50s American convertible at this price. I hope the new owner drives it.

 

Lot #291, 1957 Chevrolet Corvette, fuel-injected 250-horse 283, 4-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate $70-90,000. With reserve. Sold for $65,000.

Apparently there were two different f.i. horsepower engines, and this was the lower of the two. This sounded too cheap to me, but CPI shows a value range between $53,000 and $100,000. I still think it was well-bought.

 

Lot #184, 1963 Jaguar E-Type FHC (fixed-head coupe). Red over black, looked great from afar, but a closer inspection revealed rough areas. Pre-sale estimate $90-110,000. With reserve. Sold for $65,000.

This is an early Series 1 car, with the 3.8 six-cylinder, 4-speed with non-synchro first, and low-back bucket seats. Many refinements were added to the ’65 and newer Series 1 cars with the 4.2 engine. See the photo of the rear window: the glass seal was completely hardened, there was paint overspray on it, and the window trim was missing. CPI has these at $88,000 for a #4 (fair) car; $130,000 for #3 (good), and $195,000 for #2 (excellent). Even with the defects, this was a bargain for a Series 1 XKE.

 

Lot #193, 1956 Jaguar XK140 roadster. 3.4 six, 4-speed. Pre-sale estimate $100-120,000. With reserve. Sold for $77,500.

Another possible Jaguar bargain which sold well below estimate, as CPI has a #3 car at $112,000. This car may have been a little better than that. Try it before you buy it though: the one time I sat in one required lower body contortions to get in and out.

 

Lot #150, 1939 Alvis pillarless two-door saloon. A unique and never-seen-before body style (and the 2nd Alvis at this auction). Pre-sale estimate $90-130,000. No reserve. Sold for $102,500.

This was one of the more striking pre-war designs at this auction, and certainly rare in the States. The bidders recognized this, and knowing it was a no-reserve sale, they stepped up to a final sale price which was mid-estimate. Guaranteed to be the star at the next all-British car show.

 

Lot #272, 1934 Packard Eight Coupe. Elegant two-tone light and dark brown. Pre-sale estimate $90-120,000. With reserve. Sold for $105,000.

I’ve been infatuated with almost all Packards I see these last few years, and this one stopped me dead in my tracks. It was stunning, and in close to perfect condition. While it sold mid-estimate, a higher number would have still been reasonable. That’s a lot of Packard for just over six figures.

 

Lot #274, 1933 Packard Eight Roadster. Dark red, tan convertible top. Looks like the sister car to Lot #272. Pre-sale estimate $120-140,000. No reserve. Sold for $105,000.

I have no explanation for this result. This car, a convertible, sold for the exact same price as the Packard coupe which was just one year newer. Honestly, I did not look at these two cars that closely to discern any condition differences. Maybe the same person bought both cars and now has twin Packards in the collection.

 

FUN TIMES WATCHING THE CARS DRIVE IN AND OUT OF THE HERSHEY LODGE

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Hershey 2021, Car Corral Edition

After a consecutive run which began in the early 1950s and then dealing with its first-ever cancellation in 2020, the AACA Eastern Fall Meet (colloquially known as “Hershey”) was back in place for 2021. For me, most of my visits here in the last 20 years have been multi-day affairs, but this year, personal obligations kept it to a one-day-only event, and that day was Thursday, October 7, 2021.

It was almost as if nothing had changed. The flea market vendors took up most of the Hersheypark parking lot, the car corral occupied the perimeter road around the lot, and the Giant Center stood in place at the center of it all. However, the crowd was a little thinner than in recent years; the car corral was only about 65-70% full; many of the usual food vendors were MIA; and even the flea market revealed either empty spots, or, what has been a growing trend, modern cars parked as a convenient alternative for those willing to spring for a flea market spot.

Because my time was limited, I spent most of the day walking the car corral. Cars did change hands: I witnessed a ’64 Falcon sell, and my friend Larry saw someone purchase a ’68 Olds 98. It was reassuring to know that some business was conducted.

The cars below are the ones which I found interesting and affordable, and there weren’t too many of those this year. Cars are listed only with their asking prices; I did not record any other pertinent details about each vehicle. It is my hope that the photographs provide much of the info you might desire. I scooted out of the car corral and over to the RM Auction by about 4:30pm. The auction cars will be discussed in a separate blog post to be published later.

1992 Mazda Miata (auto), asking $6,800

 

 

1988 Ford Thunderbird, asking $9,900

 

 

 

1984 Porsche 944, asking $12,490

 

 

1995 Jaguar XJS (6-cyl), asking $17,500

 

1964 Morgan 4/4, asking $23,900

 

How Not to Sell a Car in the Car Corral

As soon as I opened the driver’s door on the Iso Rivolta, a voice from about 20 feet away barked at me. “You interested in the car?” “Maybe” I lied. “My boss wants $150,000 for it.” The only response to that was uttered to myself: this guy is crazy.

I wanted to show Larry the Chevy engine under the hood, but I couldn’t find the hood release. I asked the boss’ man “how do you open the hood?” “Dunno”. Oh boy, the boss sent the smart guy out with the car. While I continued to look over the exterior, someone else hopped into the driver’s seat and got the hood opened. “I owned one when I was a young man” he said by way of explanation.

Underhood was as filthy and unkempt as the rest of the vehicle, although we did note that an A/C compressor was in place upon which someone had fastened a label: “recharged with R134a in 2020”.  We were beginning to collect a crowd. The minion again spoke, this time to someone else. “Yeah, it’s an ICE-OH”. OMG. I quickly corrected him: “it’s pronounced ‘EES-SO’. One more time to the other interested observer: “my boss wants $150 grand for it, they’re very rare”. I pulled out my current copy (Sep-Oct 2021) of the CPI price guide. Iso Rivolta coupes, made between the years of 1963-1970, are in the book for $25,000 in #4 condition; $46,500 in #3 condition; and $85,000 in #2 condition. This car was clinging to its #4 condition like a rock climber clings to a cliff wall.

The exterior had not had a bath in months and the interior had not seen a vacuum in years. The front seat upholstery was obviously incorrect. The steering wheel was held together with electrical tape. Popping open the glove box, the door fell beyond its catch, dumping its contents of plastic cups, trash, and some aluminum foil (drugs??) onto the floor. I left it there, as the paraphernalia hid some of the dirt on the carpet.

So here’s the catch: these are neat cars. Renzo Rivolta, founder of Iso, took the oodles of Deutschmarks he earned when he licensed his Isetta to BMW, and invested that money into a hybrid GT car, hybrid in the original sense of “European sports car with an American engine”. They don’t exactly come up for sale with any regularity, and compared to the later and admittedly prettier Griffo ($350,000-500,000), Rivoltas are a relative bargain. (My Isetta license plate was LILISO, for “Lil’ ISO”. I wanted to buy a Rivolta, put a hitch on it, and use it to pull the Isetta to shows. If I had done that, the Rivolta plate would have read “BIGISO”.)

No Rivolta is worth 150 large. I was tempted to pull out a business card, write “$30k” on it, and give it to the mouthpiece to give to his boss. The danger of course would be the boss saying ‘yes’. Hey boss man, I hope you’re reading this, because I have some words of advice. Next time, spend 1/10 of 1% of that asking price on a detail job, and, give your representative something resembling working knowledge of the overpriced car you’re trying to peddle to the unsuspecting. I probably taught him more about your car than you ever did.

 

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Cars & Coffee, Aug. 29, 2021

(Pardon the tardiness of this post while I attended to some other pressing matters.)

After the success of our first Cars & Coffee-type event of 2021, we decided to try it again; we even selected the same Dunkin’ Donuts location in Mahwah NJ. We had an enthusiastic turnout, and as much as this group has always enjoyed the morning cruise along country roads, there is something to be said for planting the car in one spot and devoting 100% of your time to chatting up the crowd.

The cars ranged from Corvettes (a C1 and C7), BMWs (a 2002tii and a 135 coupe), Porsches, a Nova, a Grand Prix, and your blogger’s Miata. Having arrived at 8am, much of the crowd was still hanging out at 11. Breakfast was top-notch (as good as a bagel and a hot coffee can get), and the late August weather, never predictable, cooperated. We enjoyed ourselves and we will do it again!

Burton’s C1 Corvette

 

Robert’s C7 Corvette

 

Ken’s Porsche 911

 

Richard L’s Porsche 911

 

Fred’s Pontiac Grand Prix

 

Richard R’s Miata

 

 

A TALE OF TWO BMWs

Both Sal with his 2002 and Art with his 135 were more than generous in offering me a chance to jump behind the wheel for a short spell. I haven’t driven a 2002 in who-knows-how-long, and I’ve never driven a Tii. Sal’s car is somewhat modified in the steering, suspension, and tire departments, although that’s not easy to detect by eye. He has ‘sport’ steering in it, with about a half-turn lock-to-lock (I’m kidding, but not by much). The car started right up, and the throttle response under the mechanical fuel injection was very linear. The 4-speed was easy to shift with a light clutch, and the sweet spot on the road was around 40mph in 3rd gear (not unlike my Alfa). Dashboard ergonomics were German-funky. After 10 minutes, I still never found the windshield wiper control. Visibility with that tall greenhouse is outstanding. Fifty years on, it’s quite easy to understand the revelation that BMW’s little sports sedan brought.

Art’s 2011 135 has just enough connection to the 2002 to see the familial resemblance, but of course, this is a 21st century automobile. All the controls are light, almost too much so, and the 6-speed is a delight to snick through the changes. There may be nothing quite as smooth as an inline-six (except an inline-eight), and BMW’s sixes are known for their sewing-machine precision in sound and performance. Funnily enough, I’m not sure that the dash ergonomics are much of an improvement over the 2002, but that is as much a function of electronics as it is design. For me, the size of this box is perfect, and many of the buff books at the time agreed, citing a 3-series car that had become too bloated. Art sought this out to have a RWD manual tranny ‘sports car’ and he’s got a jewel of one.

 

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

The 2021 New Hope Auto Show

The 2021 New Hope (PA) Auto Show was held during the weekend of August 14-15. This is one of the longest-running car shows in the Northeast, and this year’s arrangement split participants into two groups: the domestic cars on Saturday, and the import vehicles on Sunday. My Alfa was registered for the Sunday event, and, expecting a significant turnout of Alfas buoyed by support from both the NJ and Delaware Valley Club Chapters, I was not disappointed.

The weather cooperated; Sunday was one of the nicer days we’ve had during what’s been a hot and humid season. Registrants were asked to arrive by 8am; I was five minutes early and gained a coveted shady spot at the start of the row dedicated to Alfa Romeos. Within a few minutes, another dozen or so Alfas arrived; I later counted over 20 of the cars from Milano.

Of course, other marques were also amply represented: Porsches and BMWs from Germany; Jaguars and MGs from the UK; other Italian cars including Fiat, Lancia, and Ferrari; and Asian brands including Honda, Mazda, and Datsun/Nissan. It is worth mentioning that the Rolls Royce/Bentley Club had what was likely the largest turnout of vehicles of any particular make.

One change for 2021 was the lack of formal judging; the stated reason was that Covid concerns prevented the show organizers from gathering judges to perform their needed tasks. Instead, spectators were encouraged to vote for their favorites, and ribbons were presented around 2pm, after which the show cars were released from their spots.

This was the first time my Alfa had ventured out-of-state since I drove it to a NY diner during a Sunday breakfast run in April of 2019. While New Hope is barely 30 minutes from me, it still was a great feeling to venture that far from home in confidence after the significant brake and carburetor overhauls.

I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.

BRITISH

 

 

 

GERMAN

 

 

 

ASIAN

 

ITALIAN

 

ALFA ROMEOS

 

 

 

MY 1967 GT 1300 JR

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Das Awkscht Fescht, Macungie PA, August 2021

Now in its 58th year, Das Awkscht Fescht (The August Festival) was held in Memorial Park in Macungie PA on August 6, 7, & 8, 2021. This three-day show, with slightly varied themes each day, is one of the longest-running classic car events in the Northeast. I was a spectator this year on Saturday, on the presumption that the greatest number of vehicles were likely to show up that day. Still, compared to previous years (I posted about my 2017 visit on this blog, and have been a sporadic attendee since the 1980s), the field was perhaps 80% filled.

“Macungie”, which is what we call it, is an appealing show: it’s set on grass within a park which offers lots of shade; and it offers non-automotive attractions including craft displays, a live petting zoo, and a bandshell with live musical entertainment. Saturday’s show cars were approximately arranged by decade. The featured marque(s) was Cadillac/LaSalle, and most of those vehicles were situated under one of the few tents on the property.

Overall, the quality and variety of vehicles were outstanding. Domestic brands comprised about 98% of the vehicles on display, but a few of the import makes were standouts (see sidebar below). Members of the NJ Region of the AACA turned out in some force, and the National AACA had a trailer on site, making Das Awkscht Fescht a quasi-official AACA event.

Photographically, I challenged myself by bringing only my 85mm prime (non-zoom) lens on my still new-to-me Sony camera. This lens takes great pictures, and the results look to be marginally sharper than the 28-60mm zoom lens I use 90% of the time. The challenge, however, is that for a full-body front or rear ¾ shot, I need to be about 25 feet away from a car, and accomplishing that at a show crowded with show-goers requires long waits for just the right moment. One trick which I’ve used at Hershey was to position myself on the street outside the show and capture cars as they drove in, an effect that worked well here. As another alternative, many shots are of only a portion of the automobile; in those cases I attempted to highlight some interesting design feature.

The Macungie show is a great PA tradition, always held the first week of August. Like other Northeast stalwarts such as Hershey and Lime Rock, this one is perennially on my calendar. Maybe next time I’ll bring a car!

 

 

HEADING IN:

 

STATION WAGONS!

 

CADILLAC FINS:

 

PRE-WAR:

 

LAND YACHTS:

 

A RARE HURST/OLDS:
TWO CUTIES, A CROSLEY AND A VESPA:
THE TWO-SEAT SPORTS CAR, OLD AND NEW:
A STUNNING ’57 FORD SKYLINER RETRACTABLE:

 

 


SIDEBAR: Mike, Barry, and the Fiats

As I crouched low to take additional photographs of the pristine white Fiat 124 Spider in front of me, the gentleman to my right spoke up. “It’s nice to see someone besides me who likes these cars!” We exchanged pleasantries for a few moments about our shared passion for the Italian cars from Torino, and he introduced himself as Barry. “Are either of these (a black one was parked next to the white one) yours?” I queried. “No”, he responded, “but I help the owner take care of them”.

Within a few moments, a younger gent joined our conversation. I quickly learned that his name was Mike, and that he owned both 124s on display (along with the BMW E30 convertible next to them). The white ’79 2000 Spider caught most of my attention, as the sign claimed that it was an 8,000 mile, all-original and unrestored car. Mike related that he bought the car about 8 years ago from an ad in an FLU (Fiat-Lancia Unlimited, the old Fiat club) newsletter. The ad contained no photo, just the briefest of writeups. The car was in L.A., while Mike was in PA. He subsequently learned that this car had been bought new by Jerry Zucker, the movie producer of “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” fame. Mike never spoke with Jerry, but apparently negotiated the terms of the sale with one of Jerry’s spokespeople. He rolled the dice, he said, when he bought the car sight-unseen and then had it shipped back east. He was pleasantly surprised at its condition, and although he does drive it, he said he strives to continue to keep the mileage low.

The black car, strictly speaking, wasn’t a Fiat but a Pininfarina (extra points to Mike who knew exactly why a “Pininfarina” wears the letter “f” as its name bade). Although I didn’t record it, I believe that the newer Spider was an ’83, which would make it the first model year for the renamed Pininfarina Azzurra. (When Fiat abandoned the U.S. market in 1982, Pininfarina took over marketing of the Spider for the States.)  Both cars were near perfect, and it was a delight to see them parked side-by-side and note the differences, especially in the interior. However, I was so engrossed in conversation that I failed to snap any shots of the newer Spider.

 

It turned out that Barry, as a friend and neighbor, does much of the mechanical upkeep on Mike’s cars. The two of them were as enthusiastic and knowledgeable about all things Fiat as they could be. Barry in particular was impressively able to recite nuances about interior detail differences across all the Spider generations. All in all, I spent about 30 minutes in delightful conversation with both these gentlemen. Meeting and talking with them was the highlight of my visit to Macungie that day.

 

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

AACA NJ Region Summer Tour, 2021

The New Jersey Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) has had a long tradition of holding summer tours. A tour, as compared to a rally such as the New England 1000, is conducted under much more relaxed circumstances. Tours typically involve leisurely drives along country roads to visit local attractions. Tour participants have the option to caravan together or to follow their own timetables. Planned stops will include sights like museums, parks, and of course eateries. (Rallies require more spirited driving and may encompass TSD [time, speed, distance] measurements of your ‘performance’ versus your fellow competitors.)

Having never partaken of a NJ Regional tour before, and continuing with my pledge to make up for the lost year of 2020, I signed up for my Region’s summer tour, which was held from July 29 through August 2, 2021. A trend I’ve noticed in recent years with both tours and rallies has been to conduct them as “hub tours” or “hub rallies”, which is to say that participants stay at the same hotel for the duration (the hotel effectively operating as the hub), with daily drives heading out in different directions and returning to the same hub each evening. So it was with this event: the Hampton Inn in Sayre PA (a stone’s throw from the NY border) served as the hub hotel, while our daily drives took us into the Finger Lakes Region of NYS each day.

All of the planned visits in which I participated were non-automotive in nature. There were plenty of opportunities to indulge in the local culture, and the significant others who were along for the ride weren’t forced to endure only automotive-related attractions. This tour was museum-heavy, as we stopped at the Corning Glass Museum, the Rockwell Museum (also in Corning), the George Eastman House & Museum and the Strong Museum of Play (both in Rochester), and the Soaring Museum in Elmira. The Corning Glass Museum and Eastman Museum visits were the two I was most looking forward to; the Rockwell Museum (not Norman, but Bob and Hertha, local business owners who collected art and gifted it to the city), and the Soaring Museum (the history of soarers and gliders AKA wingless flight) were pleasant surprises. The Strong Museum was akin to an indoor amusement park overrun with youngsters, but others in the group found it enjoyable.

The weather was outstanding for all but one of the days we were in the area. Unfortunately, the one rainy day occurred on the same day as a planned boat ride on Lake Cayuga, which necessitated the cancellation of our water outing.

There were about 25 people on the tour, mostly Regional members; some folks brought along friends and family members, which was nice to see, and made for an even more diverse group. Of the approximately 12 couples that I counted, 6 drove modern iron, and 6 drove AACA-eligible cars. Excepting the 1930 Ford Model A driven by my friends Dick and Bobbi, the other AACA vehicles were all from the ‘80s and ‘90s, including my 1993 Miata (NOT the newest car on the tour!). A personal thrill was my first ride in a rumble seat, which was offered to me when Dick and Bobbi drove to dinner. (It was easy to get into and less easy to get out of; agility with one’s limbs is a helpful trait when entering and exiting such a conveyance.)

The tour ended on a Monday, and I skipped that morning’s visit to a windshield frame restoration shop as I needed to scoot home a bit early. Would I tour again? Most certainly I would. It’s an additional and wonderfully relaxing way to indulge in the hobby. I would wish for a slightly more varied lineup of activities (not everyone prefers five museum visits in 2.5 days), but having helped organize and having participated in dozens of one-day and multi-day tours, I have great appreciation for the amount of work involved in planning such ventures. The NJ Region put in significant effort to make the event as enjoyable as possible for all.

 

The Corning Museum of Glass parked this Chevy pickup in its lobby and filled its bed with flowers made of glass; the flowers were available in the gift shop.

 

This automotive-themed display is from the Corning Glass Museum

 

A room from the George Eastman House

 

An engine-powered plane takes off from the Soaring Museum’s runway

 

 

This ’30s-era GMC pickup from inside the Soaring museum was used as a tow vehicle to bring gliders up to speed. Its winch held a rope attached to the glider, and there was a mechanism to disconnect the rope from the plane. In the event that failed, the guillotine was deployed to sever the rope!

 

 

 

 

 

Bill’s 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier

 

Brian’s 1994 Pontiac Firebird

 

Richard’s 1993 Mazda Miata

 

Al’s 1986 Ford Mustang

 

Pete’s 1985 Olds Cutlass

 

Dick & Bobbi with their 1930 Ford Model A

 

Your author about to embark on his first rumble

 

The view from the back

 

 

And the view from the Miata (barn doors up)

 

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

Neshanic Station NJ Car Show, July 17, 2021

(Late but not forgotten, I am posting this show from several weeks ago only now, as other priorities were handled first.)

Neshanic Station held its first of two scheduled July car shows on Saturday July 17, 2021. I’ve been a regular at these local events, if only because I live about 3 miles away! Taking the Alfa again in order to give it some deserved exercise, the field was slightly less populated than we’ve seen previously, possibly due to the vacation season, possibly due to the weather.

Repeating my previous comments about this show, it’s a “run what you brung” theme: old, new, original, restored, stock, modified, whatever. If the owner thinks it’s interesting, then it’s welcome. Some cars were familiar to me from previous shows, and some were new to me. As is typical, attendees brought mostly domestic iron, but there were several Germans and one British/American hybrid to keep my Italian mistress company. There’s no charge to enter, but the local church requests a monetary or food donation to support a local food bank.

 

The day dawned sunny, hot, and humid. Arriving at 7:58 a.m., I parked my car, grabbed my camera, and began walking around to snap pictures. By 8:45, I had soaked through my t-shirt. While I remembered bug spray, I neglected to grab sunscreen or a hat. A quick call back home and my wife was kind enough to scoot down with both those essentials.

Several vehicles stood out: a classic ’40 Ford, the Cougar Eliminator, the Benz SLC with typical 1980s mods, an impeccable Nash Metropolitan, a Screaming Chicken Trans Am, and a current-gen Ford GT, driven, not trailered, onto and off the show field.

Did I mention it was hot? People actually started to leave shortly after 9 a.m. I threw in (more like wrung out) the towel at 10 a.m. and headed home. As always, I enjoyed myself, and there’s no sense complaining about the weather. Show organizers have moved this to a twice-a-month thing, and I plan to continue to attend as many as my schedule allows.

 

 

 

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

The Miata Earns Its Repeat HPOF Award in Saratoga

A recent blog post summarized the June 2021 AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) National show in Saratoga Springs NY, with a follow-up post about some of the owners I met and the stories behind their show cars. It’s now time to tell the story of my own car which was on the show field that day, and I’m referring to my 1993 Mazda Miata. Yes, it qualifies as an AACA show vehicle, as the AACA runs a rolling 25-year rule, meaning that in any given year, vehicles 25 years old or older can be entered. My Miata became eligible in 2018.

When I showed this car for the first time at a National event, it was Hershey, and I chose to enter it in the HPOF (Historical Preservation of Original Features) class. When I purchased the Miata in August of 1996, it was a gently-used three-year-old car with 34,000 miles on it. I promptly put another 10,000 miles on it before the year was out, but then turned it into a toy for fair weather use. Still, I could not have seen the day when a car which still felt new to me would be eligible for a Hershey event! Thankfully, during those years between 1996 and 2018, I avoided all temptation to modify or ‘improve’ the car, and maintained it to stock specifications.

The view from the owner’s folding chair

I was a proud papa when the car earned its first HPOF badge at that 2018 Hershey showing. The pressure only increased to maintain its originality, and in 2019, when the NJ Region hosted its own National event in Parsippany, I decided to try for the next level, which is “Original HPOF”. (Without going into too much detail, it means that a greater percentage of the vehicle, including paint, upholstery, and mechanicals, are “as built” by the factory). The Miata did win its first Original HPOF in Parsippany, and that was its most recent National event until this year.

Post-judging, hood and trunk are now closed

Of course, 2020 was a washout, but with Covid restrictions easing in 2021, I’m making up for lost time. So it was off to Saratoga Springs with the Miata vying for a Repeat Original HPOF award. I attended the Saturday evening awards banquet, and was humbled and elated to receive my repeat award (actually a chip to be mounted to a wooden display board). The car managed to do this, by the way, with over 107,000 miles showing on the odometer.

A morning-after beauty shot; yes, that is original paint with 107,000 miles on it

What’s next? The remainder of the Nationals for 2021 are too far away, so I will wait and see what the calendar holds for 2022. In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy the car, and will do everything I can to maintain its originality. I plan to drive it in the NJ Region’s Summer Tour coming up at the end of this month, which will take us as far north as Rochester NY. The miles will pile on, but the car is up to it!

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Stories from the Saratoga Springs AACA Nationals

It may seem like I attend car shows for the cars; however, I discovered long ago that the more enjoyable element is meeting new hobbyists and uncovering the stories behind their prized automotive possessions. The AACA National in Saratoga Springs held earlier this month was ripe with such stories. Here are a few of them.

Bob and his 1969 GTO

My initial attraction to this Goat was the colorful striping; it’s so late ‘60s, and Ford and Chrysler were doing similar outrageous things with paint, decals, and the like. But think about the pure nerve to name a car “The Judge”, as if it ruled over everyone and everything (and that certainly was what the marketing folks had in mine).

The owner, Bob, saw my interest and approached me. He was low-key, but wanted to be sure that I knew that this was a one-owner car, bought new by him just before he entered military service. Here’s a partial quote from the car’s display sign:

“I purchased the car new in March of 1969 (and) married Nancy on June 7, 1969…. Nancy drove “The Judge” to work every day while I was gone (in the Navy). In the fall of 1974, I decided to put it in storage, where it stayed … until the fall of 2012, when I decided it was time to have a concours restoration completed on it….  (The shop) completed the car in August of 2013 and we have enjoyed taking it around the country, sharing the car and its story with others….”

The restoration looked top-notch to me, and it’s wonderful to behold this pinnacle of the American muscle car era, which was soon to fade away. Bob was beaming with pride the entire time he talked to me about his Judge. He had every reason to be completely proud of it.

Dave and his 1955 Thunderbird

Two-seat T-Birds, aka Baby Birds, are not an uncommon sight at an AACA show. There were perhaps a half-dozen in Saratoga Springs, but it was the color of this ’55 which drew me in and brought me to ask the owner “what is the name of this color?” Dave replied “Thunderbird Blue”, at which moment I recalled that I always found that just a bit odd, as the paint certainly has a greenish tint, appearing closer to aqua. This of course led us to talk more about his car, which is when he revealed that he bought this ‘Bird in 1969, and it was the very first motor vehicle he ever owned.

After driving it on and off for many years, he laid it up in 1991. Fifteen years later, in 2006, he decided to embark on a restoration. Dave said that one of the biggest challenges was seeking out a repair shop willing to let him participate in some of the actual work, which was the only way he was going to afford the job. One can only imagine how 15 years of off-the-road storage added to the complexities of the operation.

Whether it was due to the shop’s schedule, Dave’s availability to participate, his ability to fund the repairs, or some combination of all the above, the work which began in 2006 took thirteen years to complete. Looking at the photos, I think you will agree that patience was rewarded! Dave summed up the present situation by confiding “when I saw the finished product in 2019, I realized that the car was too nice to drive, so THEN I had to purchase a truck and trailer; but once this award circuit is done, I’m putting it on the road and plan to enjoy some time behind the wheel!”

Richard and his 1964 Riviera

What grabs you at first glance is the color. Not that “green” is an unusual color for a vehicle of this era; it certainly is not. It’s this particular shade of green, dubbed by Buick’s marketing team as “Surf Green”. The paint is complemented by the pure white interior, both in impeccable condition, and the entire package from bumper to bumper is undeniably appealing.

I’ve seen this car before; in fact, I photographed it at the NJ-hosted AACA Nationals in Parsippany in 2019. This time, I spoke to the owner, Richard, who was in Saratoga Springs seeking his Repeat Preservation award. He’s a long-time Riviera fan, and unabashedly told me that he’s owned “quite a few ‘63s, ‘64s, and ‘65s”, and this one might be my favorite”. He prefers the first two years, stating “those clamshell headlights are a pain, the doors always getting stuck part-way”. This ’64 has factory air which makes long summer drives that much more pleasurable, provided you’re prepared for the frequent fuel stops. He went on: “A lot of guys want the high-output motor with the two 4-barrels. Let me tell you, yeah, the top end jumps from 130 to 133 mph but you go from 12 to 8 mpg, and good luck getting those carbs synchronized!”

When I asked him to pose next to the car, he laughed and exclaimed “why do you want to ruin the shot?”. Only after I got home and looked at the snap did I notice that his shirt and pants matched his car….

Phil and his 1929 Reo

The day before the show, there was an option to take a tour of a private auto collection nearby. The AACA had arranged for a bus to take us to and from that warehouse, and it was on the bus where I met the entire family: Phil, the patriarch, with his wife Kathy, their son John, and John’s wife and 3-year-old daughter. Phil and I ended up sitting next to each other, and what else were we going to talk about but stock futures our own cars. “The family” was showing their 1929 Reo in the show, and it was in Saratoga Springs seeking its First Preservation award.

Now, you don’t exactly see Reo automobiles of any year on a regular basis, but a few are around. (For the uninitiated, Reo is the initials of company founder Ransom E. Olds, yes, the same person who founded Oldsmobile.) What was most intriguing about Phil’s car was that it had belonged to his grandfather. While Phil never revealed when his grandfather bought the car, I knew Phil’s age, and some quick estimations make it at least possible that grandpop bought it new (his grandfather might have been around 30 years old in 1929).

Just as interesting was hearing stories from Phil’s wife about how, before it was restored, the Reo was “just a driver” and they would throw all their kids into the spacious rear seat and go cruising. It sounded like the car was kept in decent running condition and the family didn’t hesitate to put miles on it during their younger years. Now that it’s been fully restored, it’s a trailer queen, and after Saratoga, they are trucking it to the AACA Grand National in Minnesota later this summer. Like Dave with the T-Bird, though, once it’s earned its Repeat Preservation, they said that the trailering ends and the driving fun begins again.

Obviously, the collector car disease has infected the next generation, as in speaking to their son John, he informed me that he already has a small collection of pre-war Fords (THIS from someone who was born in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s!). Hearing this should give us assurance that the collector car hobby will continue in some fashion, especially if it’s done as a family affair.


Bob’s GTO, bought new by him, was in storage for many years, then restored. Dave’s T-Bird, his first car, was put in storage then took 13 years to restore. Richard’s Riviera, one of many he’s owned, looks like it’s “the keeper” for him. Phil’s Reo, in the family since his grandfather owned it, finally got a full restoration after many years as a driver. Their stories are different but have common elements. Patience and perseverance are a huge part of each saga. It’s the passion for a special car, whether it’s a new acquisition or a long-term family member, that brings together people, machines, and memories.

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

AACA Eastern Spring Nationals, June 2021

The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) held its 2021 Eastern Spring Nationals on Saturday June 19, 2021, in Saratoga Springs NY. The AACA Saratoga Region hosted the event, choosing the Saratoga Spa State Park as the show site, and selecting the Gideon Putnam as the host hotel, itself just a short walk from the show field.

My 1993 Mazda Miata was entered into the show, seeking a repeat Original HPOF (Historical Preservation of Original Features) award. There will be more to say about that in a future post. I drove the Miata up to Saratoga Springs on Thursday, enjoying perfect weather both that day and the next. The forecast for Saturday was for rain, but thankfully that was inaccurate, as Saturday’s weather was warm and a tad humid, but dry and delightful for an outdoor car show.

Approximately 275 vehicles were in attendance. AACA does tend to attract the best of the best, as the quality of the show vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles) was outstanding. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this kind of show is the chance to meet new hobbyists and learn the background stories about their cars. My next blog post will relate a number of those stories. For now, I will turn this into a “photo dump” and allow the reader to enjoy these images of beautifully restored classic cars.

Promptly at 3 p.m., the show cars were allowed to depart the field, and the exit parade began. I was in no rush to leave, but decided instead to walk under some tall pines to be able to stand in the shade for a few minutes. That’s when I discovered that I was in a perfect spot to capture some photos of vehicles as they left the park, which is when all of the following pictures were taken.  

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.