The Boonton (NJ) cruise night has been a Friday night tradition in that town’s WalMart parking lot for at least a decade. Known for its ability to draw upwards of 300 cars, the show on Friday August 10th of this year was well below capacity, possibly in part due to vacation season, but more likely a result of a sudden change in the afternoon’s weather from sunny and hot to cloudy and threatening.
This was my first time back to Boonton in several years, and I enjoyed the smaller number of cars and trucks as well as the lighter crowds. It made for a very relaxing evening. Oh, and it sprinkled for about 5 seconds, causing a small number of drivers to jump in their rides and split. It was their loss, as the evening stayed dry.
Cruise nights in general have a greater variety of vehicles on display. By that I am referring to a large mix of pre- & post-war, stock & custom, and original & restored. It provides a chance to look over cars that I otherwise might not go out of my way to see. If there was one ‘class’ of vehicle lacking, it would be imports. I could count on one hand the number of non-domestic vehicles on display. That made the few there all the more interesting.
The pictures below are displayed in random order, which is how the vehicles are parked, unless family members or friends arrive together. (Although if you didn’t know better, you’d think that the night’s festivities were sponsored by the local Buick club.) Enjoy the photo-documentation of this classic NJ cruise night.
The Friday tradition known as the Somerville NJ cruise night took place as expected on August 26, 2016. However, the usual swarm of domestic muscle cars and old-school hot rods was invaded by members from the NJ Region of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club (AROC). In total, there were 9 Alfa Romeos present, which was an excellent showing for this sweltering late summer evening.
The club had reached out to the cruise night organizers to request a group parking spot. As has been done in the past for other clubs, the spaces in front of the Somerset County Courthouse were reserved for us. The first Alfa was in place before 5pm, with the majority of cars claiming their spots by 6pm. Based on the steady flow of foot traffic parading past our cars, we can presume that the audience enjoyed the rather unexpected gathering of Italian machinery.
There was great model diversity, with Alfetta GTs, Spiders, a 164, two 4Cs, and your scribe’s GT 1300 Junior. The Junior was the sole vehicle from the 1960s, but we had great representation from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The 4Cs were the surprise of the evening, with one privately-owned car in attendance, as well as a brand new one from the local dealer, Fullerton Fiat-Alfa (thanks, Dave!).
Old friends got reacquainted, new friends were made, and with darkness arriving by 8pm, most of us were back on the road by then. It was an enjoyable way to spend an evening with like-minded people, and we hold out hope that our local Alfa club can find its way to organize one more gathering before the cars are stored for the winter.
The Boonton NJ cruise night, held on Fridays in the WalMart shopping Plaza, had its first show of the 2016 season on June 10. This year’s festivities were scheduled to start on June 3, but that show was cancelled due to inclement weather.
The cruise night, sponsored by the Starlight Cruisers car club, began in 2007 and has proven to be one of the better attended events of its kind in northern Jersey. The parking lot is roped off to allow parking for up to 250 cars. Because of the show’s popularity, vehicles are limited to those with QQ (NJ antique automobile) plates, or those which are at least 25 years old. The club provides music and door prizes.
The weather on the 10th was perfect – sunny, warm, cloudless, with low humidity, which brought out the crowds. The show cars were 99% domestic product, with a large percentage of them easily defined as “modified” – everything from bolt-ons to full customs in the old-school sense. GM vehicles from the 50s and 60s dominated, but there was also enough variety to keep things interesting for those who seek the unusual. There was a smattering of pre-war iron, including a lovely 1940 LaSalle convertible. Original owner and/or unrestored cars were present, such as a 1967 AMC Marlin whose owner has had it since 1971. And some imports dared to show up among all the Chevys and Fords, including an Opel GT, a Saab 93, and your author’s Alfa.
AMC products are rare sightings at any car event. This cruise night featured a number of them, including this Rebel “The Machine”, and this 1978 Concord AMX.
This 1967 Marlin was striking in several ways, most notably because its owner told us that this was his first car when he bought it in 1971. His daughter was dutifully deployed to attend to polishing duties. When asked about the missing fuel door, he replied that the door has been shipped to Sweden (!) for color-matching. We were left unclear as to why.
The number of Corvettes in attendance easily reached several dozen. What was especially impressive was the large number of C1 and C2 cars.
It is often stated that American car styling reached its bizarre peak in the late 1950s. While that may be true, what is sometimes missed is that interior styling also captured some of that strange creativity, and that included functional items such as transmission controls. This 1958 Edsel and 1960 Plymouth both used unusual solutions for transmission control placement. (Note that the Edsel has a floor shifter as part of a complete drivetrain swap.)
Studebaker’s history began 50 years before the dawn of the motorized vehicle, when the Studebaker brothers manufactured covered wagons. By the 1950s, they struggled to compete with the Big Three. “Daring to be different” was a strategy employed by them (as well as by AMC), as borne out by this Hawk and Avanti.
Despite the dominance of 50s-60s muscle, a few cars from an earlier time were also on the show field. None was more striking than this 1940 LaSalle. The LaSalle brand was a “junior Cadillac”, but alas, could not compete in the marketplace. Production ended in 1940, making this car a representative of the marque’s final year.
This Saab has been in Boonton before. Although we did not have the pleasure of seeing it run on this particular evening, the owner has kept the 2-stroke motor and has opened up the exhaust a bit, resulting in some glorious albeit raucous noises.
DeLoreans never went away; they’ve been hiding in plain sight all these years. For a vehicle which was manufactured for only two years (1981-1982) and in limited numbers, one always seems to turn up. Their collectibility may be on the rise, though, as a recent change in government regulations will allow the “new” DeLorean Motor Company to begin to legally manufacture cars again.
In 1970, if you could not afford a new Corvette, you may have been drawn to the Opel GT. Buick dealers sold them as captive imports. Built in Germany, the Opel GT was available with either a 1.1L or 1.9L inline 4-cylinder. You certainly didn’t pay the Corvette’s price, but you didn’t get the Corvette’s horsepower either.
The Alfa may have looked lost among the sea of U.S. built cars (it certainly is physically smaller than all of them), but several spectators stopped by to tell the typical “I had one of those” stories. The car ran flawlessly up and down Route 287 that evening.
The town of Somerville (NJ, not MA) has been hosting a Friday-night cruise night for many years. Several websites maintain that 2015 is the 26th consecutive year of this event. Having lived in this area since 2001, my recollection is that the town at first was aghast at the idea of “hot rodders” invading their space. (This cruise night uses Main St., not a parking lot, as its gathering place.)
Then a funny thing happened: the local restaurants, antique stores, and other small businesses began to notice a significant uptick in their business on Fridays, as “spectators” swarmed into downtown to partake of the cars AND the food…. The next thing you know, the township is so in favor of the cruise night that they take over hosting duties from the local car club which had been performing that function.
We took advantage of a warm and dry summer evening this past Friday to enjoy the always-eclectic car collection, as well as Alfonso’s Italian food (some of the best in the area). Photos are below, in no particular order. If you’re ever in the mood for a great Friday night cruise night which includes a hometown atmosphere, cruise on over!
The 1958 Edsel wasn’t a badcar; it was no better and no worse than most any other full-size American car of its time. Its timing was bad, introduced during a recession, and priced to compete in an already-crowded mid-priced field. Its styling only added to the sale challenge. It barely made it into its 3rd model year before the plug was pulled. To this day, “Edsel” is synonymous with major corporate marketing blunders. Meanwhile, the car’s looks have mellowed, and it’s become a collectible.
A trio of tremendous Pontiacs: two Firebirds and a GTO:
The man responsible for much of Pontiac’s success, John Z. DeLorean, went on to start his own ill-fated car company. The DeLorean DMC-12 was produced for only two model years, 1981 & 1982 (the 1983 models were cobbled together from leftover parts by court order). This particular example was cosmetically perfect, and a stick-shift car to boot:
“Stan” proudly shows off his 1962 Studebaker Hawk GT. He claims he pulled it from a field about 10 years ago, after cutting down the tree which had grown up through the floor next to the steering wheel. A father-son project, Stan was rightfully proud of his car’s condition, and his trunk is full of memorabilia obtained from the Studebaker museum.