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!”
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.
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 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.
The NJ Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) held its “annual” car show on Sunday May 1, 2022, at a new location: the Lakeview Elementary School in Denville, NJ, immediately off Route 10. The word “annual” is in quotes because the last few years had proven to be a challenge to actually hold the show, either due to poor weather or due to Covid. My blog posts clearly document the lousy atmospheric conditions in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. The pandemic wiped the 2020 and 2021 shows off the calendar.
The 2016 to 2019 events were held at a new location for us, the Mennen Arena in Morristown, and I had, on multiple occasions, made it clear to those who would listen that this was not a great spot for a car show. As much as I’m not superstitious, I also began to wonder if the spot was jinked.
There were no weather jinxes in play for this one. The day was near perfect: sunny, warm but not hot, with a few stray clouds high overhead. Compared to the wet years, when turnout barely got above two or three dozen, there were well over one hundred vehicles at this year’s event. Most of the vehicles were in classes numbered by decade and were judged to AACA standards (25 years or older, in stock, as-new condition). There were also classes for HPOF (Historical Preservation of Original Features, a non-judged class), as well as trucks, two-seat sports cars, Mustangs, modified vehicles through 1997, and ‘modern classics’ 1998 and newer. (Some of these classes are not officially recognized by AACA and are added to bring additional vehicles to the show, making all feel welcome.)
I was especially pleased to see the strong turnout of pre-war and immediate post-war (WW2 in both cases) vehicles. Despite what many think, interest in vehicles from this time period continues to be strong. For example, I had a delightful conversation with the owner of a 1929 Packard, who to me looked like he was perhaps in his late 30s/early 40s. He told me that this generation Packard had been his dream car since he was seven years old!
My 1967 Alfa Romeo, which ran without an issue, got me safely and soundly to the show and back. This was the first AACA event for my beloved Italian stallion since the Buffalo Farm Car Show in Flemington NJ in June of 2019. (It was the following month when the brakes failed, necessitating a complete overhaul, followed by a necessary carb overhaul.) My good friend and fellow club member Ed Geller, who owns multiple Alfas, parked his HPOF ’69 Spider next to my car, and we made for an attractive 1-2 Alfa punch.
A treat for the club this year was the addition of a new member who goes by the name “Gup” (don’t ask because I don’t have a clue) who has his own DJ business. He parked his heavily modified Ford rig about center stage, and spun the tunes all day. His ability to mix styles and genres meant that there no complaints that I heard about the music! In previous years, we broadcasted SiriuxXM “Forties on 4” or “Fifties on 5” through the PA, and it got monotonous. Gup was a great addition to this year’s festivities.
Below are photos of show cars which captured my attention. Since AACA requires judged cars to have open hoods and trunks, obtaining quality images can be a challenge. When the opportunity presented itself, I also tried to snap photos of cars which by virtue of their locations in the parking lot would allow a better framed composition.
Featured car #1: 1929 Packard Phaeton
The Packard’s owner, a man perhaps in his 40s, told me that he wanted this style Packard since he was seven years old. His car had been restored in 1951, and was an award winner at that time, but then had been put into storage. When he bought it, the car required a thorough recommissioning, but he assured me that I was looking at paint that had been applied 71 years ago.
Featured car #2: 1993 Lotus Esprit
One does not see Lotus Esprits at many AACA events, so the appearance of this gorgeous white one grabbed my attention. Presuming that it had a V8 mounted amidships, the owner corrected me and said that the engine was a Lotus-engineered V4, and turbocharged to boot.
The 2022 edition of the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) began this year’s run with two press days, on Wednesday and Thursday, April 13 and 14. The show is open to the public from Friday April 15 through Sunday April 24. Located in the Jacob Javits Convention Center in the west 30s, the NYIAS was last held in 2019. Covid halted the proceedings in 2020 and 2021. Through my job at CARiD.com, I and two other gentlemen on our Creative Team were able to attend with press passes on Wednesday the 13th.
Walking into the Javits Center as I have done for this show since 1987, which is when it moved from the NY Coliseum at Columbus Circle, I could not help but be struck by the imagery. Everywhere I turned, the banners, posters, and signage all indicated The Main Attraction.
Can you say ‘electric vehicles’?
You would be forgiven for thinking that you had perhaps stumbled upon an All-EV show. Almost every vehicle manufacturer in attendance was touting the EVs in its lineup. Some of them, such as the Ford F-150 Lightning, have been known about for months and have been eagerly anticipated by the general public. Others, like the new brand Vinfast, have little name recognition at present.
Before we get further into the EVs (and there were plenty of very interesting ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicles on the floor too), it’s worth listing the manufacturers who were conspicuous by absence. This is nothing new, as the combination of online launches, rising costs, and new car intros scattered across the calendar have driven many manufacturers to conclude that physical auto shows are no longer worth the time and expense. Here’s who was missing: BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Acura, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Rivian, Tesla, Audi, Porsche, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC. Most puzzling was the participation of only some brands under a corporate umbrella: Chevrolet but not sister GM brands Buick, Cadillac, and GMC; and VW but not their Audi and Porsche brethren. While Chevy, Ford, Toyota, and Subaru among others consumed significant floor space, there still was lots of room for other stuff. And that other stuff was not one, not two, but three indoor test tracks, devoted to providing rides in EVs.
Think about it: with no concern about tailpipe pollution, EVs can be run indoors all day long (as long as charging is available). Ford had its own dedicated track, running the aforementioned Lightning and Mustang Mach-Es; Hyundai had its own track, with both Ford’s and Hyundai’s on the main floor; and downstairs, a larger track was shared among legacy and start-up EV makers including Nissan, VW, Volvo, INDI, and Vinfast. You should not be surprised to learn that attendees will be invited to ride, but not drive; for each ride there will be a professional driver behind the wheel. By the time the NYIAS wraps up, thousands of show-goers will have had an experience as a passenger in an EV. The car makers are hoping to turn those experiences into showroom foot traffic for their expanding EV offerings.
The two big surprises to me were the two brands I had not heard of until last week: INDI and Vinfast. INDI seems to have one model, cleverly named the INDI ONE, a large, 5-door, sloped roof hatchback reminiscent of the Tesla Model X. I had to do some online research after the show to learn that the company is based in California, although it’s sourcing parts from around the world. Their claim to fame is the under-hood computer, intended to allow a higher level of gaming for passengers. (Full disclosure: I do not see the attraction.)
(Above: the INDI ONE EV)
Vinfast was founded in 2017 in Vietnam, and plans to be the first Vietnamese car maker to expand into global markets. They had three different EV models on the floor: the VF7, VF8, and VF9, all variants on the currently popular crossover SUV. Their styling was unoffensive bordering on mildly attractive (no attempt at ‘weirdness’ to make them stand out), and I was surprised to read online that the company has had styling assistance from Pininfarina and BMW. They have also announced that they plan to open a manufacturing plant in NC.
It had not occurred to me that I might see the VW ID.Buzz at the show, and a nice surprise it was. Photos don’t do justice to the ‘cheekiness’ of it. I broke into a spontaneous smile as I rounded a corner and found this update on the classic V-Dub Bus in front of me. It’s sized right, and for EV fans, it could be a worthwhile alternative to an EV SUV.
The Subaru Solterra, which shares its EV platform with the Toyota bZ4X, was featured within the vast Subaru exhibit. Let’s see if the Subaru faithful, whose passion is wed to that flat-4, will embrace a product without it. Volvo, despite a full lineup of sedans, station wagons, and SUVs, had only 2 cars at the show: an XC40 Recharge (hybrid), and a C40 EV. Rides in the C40 were available.
The Mustang Mach-E, which has been on the market for a year or so, was also visible at other displays. Here are four examples of the Mach-E EV done up in different liveries:
This automotive giant, created in 2021 from the merger of FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automotive) and PSA (Peugeot-Citroen), sells the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo brands here. Roaming their large footprint on the main level, Jeep and Ram dominated, which is not surprising given the profits generated by those products. As examples, the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer was there, with one floor model priced at $103,000; the Ram TRX, which has been out for a while, was also present, with an MSRP of $97,000. The sole Chrysler vehicle on the floor was a Pacifica, although an updated version of the Chrysler Airflow EV concept was unveiled. Stuck in the poorly-lit back corner were Dodge (a single Challenger), Fiat (including two 500e EVs) and Alfa Romeo. The NYIAS marked the U.S. debut of the smaller Tonale SUV from Alfa, and it was quite the looker. Those attending the show specifically to see it might have a difficult time finding it.
ELVIS PRESLEY’S CONTINENTAL MARK II:
Petrol power still has its advocates. Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs were on hand to entice those not ready to join the plug-in revolution. Toyota debuted its new GR Corolla, with a 3-cylinder gas engine pushing 300 horsepower to its front tires. Several copies of the new Nissan Z were there to be gawked at. And if you truly long for the good ol’ days, a small display of classic European and Asian performance vehicles, including a BMW M3, Acura NS-X, Porsche 911 Turbo, and Renault 5 Turbo, were clustered together in the rear of the main floor.
(Above: the Nissan Z)
(Above: old-school Euro sports cars)
CHOOSE THE LEXUS GRILLE WHICH LEAST OFFENDS YOU:
Despite making up fewer than 50% of the cars and trucks inside the Javits Center, EVs were clearly the stars of this year’s show. I wasn’t surprised by Tesla’s absence; I was by Hummer’s and Rivian’s. The other EV makers had no problem filling in the space they would have taken. As I was leaving, I realized there is a battle which has begun between the legacy automakers and the start-ups.
The legacy manufacturers are affronted by the new kids on the block. Many of the old timers have been at it for over a century and feel that they own the R&D process, whether ICE or EV. Yet Tesla, itself old enough to be considered a legacy car maker, went its own route, and did it successfully. Today’s start-ups, observing that success, are raising the cash, rushing to market, and trying to distinguish themselves in a field getting more crowded by the week.
Even the experienced ones are still trying to figure it out. Ford has 100,000+ orders for its F-150 Lightning, and after surveying existing truck owners, Ford paid attention when the survey results said “don’t make it weird”. On the other hand, Chevrolet’s new Silverado EV doesn’t resemble the existing truck, and the company is still about two yeas away from building deliverable units. Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia are deciding how different to make their EVs look compared to their ICE counterparts.
And here are INDI and Vinfast, expecting to ride the swelling EV wave. There is an understandable expectation that as the EV segment grows, there’s still room for new companies to capture their own slice of the pie. If history is any guide, and it should be, many of the companies entering the EV road race won’t make it to the finish line.
Das Awkscht Fescht, better known as “Macungie” (the name of the Pennsylvania town which hosts it) is an annual car show held on the first weekend in August. Their website claims that this year’s show is its 59th annual, and my Sharp calculator computes that to mean the event began in 1963. I first attended this show in the early 1980s, when there was a large turnout of BMW Isettas and I was in search of basically anything I could find out about mine. I’ve also written about this show previously: my Isetta was on display there in 2010, and I added posts after my visits in 2017 and 2021.
Continuing my look back through old photos, I found these from the 2013 show. Visiting Macungie is delightful. It’s set on grass in a park, there’s huge car club support, and for the most part, vehicles are arranged by make and model. For significant others and young ones whose interest in old cars wanes after a few minutes, there are plenty of non-automotive attractions too, including craft booths, petting zoos, live music in an outdoor bandshell, and even a pool. It’s certainly small enough to cover in one day, but if your time is limited, or if it’s too hot to trudge into all 4 corners, you can always seek out the brands of your preference.
This year, my camera seemed to be trained more on cars of the 1950s. Perhaps it was the colors, or the ornate details one finds on the chrome behemoths of this decade. Of all the included photos below, my favorite is the unrestored Cord. I can become jaded when looking at one over-restored car after another. The very idea that someone would keep such a valuable and rare car in this condition is wonderful and refreshing.
Richard’s Car Blog’s first post was February 13, 2015. My Alfa Romeo had already been in my possession for almost two years, and I wasted no time in creating posts about my adventures with the car, including my participation in that’s year’s New England 1000. (The Alfa was also driven in the 2013, 2014, and 2018 versions of that classic car rally).
Perusing photos taken before this blog’s launch, I’ve come to realize that many of the events I’ve attended or participated in prior to 2015 have never been covered here. So I am dutifully making amends, and enjoying the glances in the rear-view mirror.
In June of 2013, having owned the Alfa for a grand total of 3 months, I entered it in that year’s Greenwich (CT) Concours D’Elegance. Bruce Wennerstrom, founder and chairperson of the show, knew me well, as my Isetta had been at this same event in 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010. For 2013, I was grouped with a variety of other beautiful Italian machinery. The weather was gorgeous, and so were all the other show cars. While no trophy came my way that day, my wife and I enjoyed the drive to and from CT, and also enjoyed taking in the sights within Roger Sherman Park, the verdant location of the Greenwich show each year.
My musk green 1967 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior had barely been in my possession for two months in 2013 when I entered it in its first judged show. This was the annual event conducted by the NJ Region of the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America), held by tradition on the first Sunday in May. In 2013, the actual show date was May 5, and also following tradition, it was held in the parking lot of the Automatic Switch Manufacturing Company in Florham Park NJ. (Long-time club members simply referred to the location as “Automatic Switch”.)
The drive from our home in Neshanic Station was only 30 minutes, but it was a good test for the much longer 2013 New England 1000 classic car rally, coming up two weeks after this outing. When I had purchased the Alfa from my good friend Pete, it had already earned its HPOF (Historical Preservation of Original Features) award, and by AACA Judging Rules you cannot switch classes back and forth willy-nilly, so it was dutifully entered into HPOF. As the photos attest, there’s always an eclectic assortment of vehicles on either side of you in this class.
Arriving and parking early gave me the chance to grab my camera and walk the field, looking for other interesting cars to photograph. I was not disappointed by the fine mix of pre-war and post-war, dometic and import, all glistening under the bright spring sun.
All cars are judged (unless an owner expressly requests to be excluded), and NJ Region judging loosely follows National’s rules. By the end of the show (around 3pm), the parade of vehicles driving up to the ‘viewing stand’ to receive their trophies from the Region’s President arrived three abreast. My Alfa received a special award, considered only for cars owned by club members: it won the “Best Unrestored Vehicle” in its age group. I was pleasantly surprised at the recognition, not expecting much of anything for the car at its first outing! Aside from a battery and a set of tires, I had also not done anything to it yet. The Alfa got me home without incident, and back into the garage it went as I patiently waited for this year’s NE1000 to begin.