AACA Hershey Event, October 2016

Flea market parts hunting the old-fashioned way
Flea market parts hunting the old-fashioned way

The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) hosted their Eastern Division National Fall Meet for the umpteenth (61st) time in Hershey PA during the first week of October this year. As someone who has attended “Hershey” at least 25 times over the years, I find myself asking “what is it that keeps drawing the crowds?”

Cars in the Car Corral line up on the perimeter road
Car Corral merchandise lines up on the perimeter road

After all, as has been reflected in numerous posts here as well as within every publication which covers collector cars, the old car hobby has changed in so many ways. The Internet, obviously, has driven transactions online. The greying of the hobby means that the aging boomers, who may finally have the means to buy that dream car, will buy it not as a project, but as a restored, ready-to-go vehicle, and may pursue that dream at an auction. Younger generations are not showing interest in 25-year-old and older stock vehicles, and frankly may be reluctant to join a club with the word “Antique” in its title.

Bargains still available, you supply the labor to restore
Bargains still available, you supply the labor to restore

This blog has now been up and running long enough that some annual events are being reported for the second time. And so it is with Hershey. It may be instructive to revisit what was said a year ago: in essence, thanks in large part to its six-decade history, Hershey continues to be the go-to place for cars and parts which can be found in few other places, in person or online.

Two well-known names in attendance
Two well-known hobby names in attendance

The sheer size of the event, with its combination of old-fashioned flea market, car corral, and judged car show can account for the crowds. (Again this year, the influx of foreigners was huge.) Weather may sometimes play a role (who remembers the Hershey mud?), but even that is a relic of the past, as the entire flea market and corral are on pavement.

Wooden wheels and steering wheels
Wooden road wheels and steering wheels

There certainly are things to see and do which cannot be duplicated on a tablet screen. For example, Hagerty Insurance, as they did last year, ran a “Search, Build, Drive” contest whereby they would purchase a project vehicle from the Car Corral, and bring it to running, driving condition using parts found in the flea market. And one more small detail: they challenge themselves to accomplish this within the 4 days of Hershey. You can read more about it here.

The Hagerty Team hard at work on this year's Ford Model A project
The Hagerty Team hard at work on this year’s Ford Model A project

Due to personal commitments, I was unable to attend Saturday’s judged meet this year. I did  attend the RM-Sotheby auto auction, held about a mile away at the Hershy Lodge, which will be covered as a separate blog post.

Caffeine oasis in the flea market
Caffeine oasis in the flea market

The bulk of this post will be a report on a random sample of cars, domestic and foreign, in the Car Corral. While there are hundreds of cars for sale, I’m especially drawn to both imports and to orphan makes. Comments about each car follow the photos.

 

This 1956 Packard Clipper 2-door hardtop was driven down from Ontario, Canada to the meet. It allegedly had 40,000 original miles, but much of the lower body was wavy with Bondo. The ask was $14,750. If that were Canadian bucks, it would be an even better deal.

 

This generation of the Mercedes-Benz SL (known as the “107” chassis to the devoted) was sold here from 1973-1989. We are so used to seeing them with their diving-board bumpers that we forget how elegant the original design was. This ’73 U.S.-spec car reminds us. This car claimed to have 45,000 original miles, and the owner was asking $18,500.

 

This 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire was rough around the edges, but it looked like it was all there. Price was $7,500 OBO. It was the only one at Hershey.

 

This ’61 T-Bird was claimed to be highly optioned with power steering, brakes, top, windows, and seats. It also had wire wheels. The beige-on-beige may not be your first choice, but I liked it. Asking $24,000 “cash! Priced to sell!”

 

The sign on this 1987 Alfa Romeo Graduate Spider gave little info other than “Low miles, $9,900“.

 

This 1980 Mazda RX-7, a first-generation car, still wore the original tail light design, which was updated a year later. The sign claimed this car was an Anniversary Edition (whatever that is), and with 63,000 miles, the ask was $9,800.

 

This 1977 Jaguar XJ6-C is a rare 2-door version of the better-known XJ four-door sedan. My recollection is that 100% of these vehicles had factory vinyl roofs. This one’s was removed in favor of black paint. The car looked like it had needs, and these are known to be rust-prone, so check carefully before you pay the $12,500 asking price.

 

This 1982 Lancia Beta Zagato is from the final year of U.S. sales for this Italian import. Like the Beta coupe, the transverse engine drove the front wheels. The Zagato version has a fold-down soft rear window plus a removable targa top, giving an almost-convertible feel. The sign claimed 59,000 pampered miles, and it looked it. The owner was asking $5,995.

 

The Buick Reatta has been on the “appreciating future collectible” list for so long that I think most people have forgotten it. There are always a few for sale, and this one’s colors and condition made it stand out. The sign claimed it to be a two-owner car for only $6,800.

 

This 1969 Jaguar E-Type OTS (Open Two Seater) was claimed to be an unrestored original car with only 48,000 miles. Primrose yellow is one of my favorite E-Type colors. If solid, it may be a good buy at $75,900.

 

This 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III was alleged to be a 62,000 mile all-original car. A little bland in white with a black vinyl top and black leather interior, it would look good in your garage (provided it fit) for only $6,500.

 

This 1994 Jaguar XJS convertible had the 4.0 six-cylinder engine, but had bad paint, with clearcoat failure on several horizontal surfaces. The ask was $7,850 /offer.

 

It’s rare to see a Triumph Spitfire this old that has not turned into a pile of iron oxide, but this 1968 appeared to be all there. Sure, it needed work, but it looked like you could drive it on weekends and attend to its needs during the week. The sign claimed that this car had been put away in storage between 1986 and 2015, and that accounts for the 28k original miles. The price, you ask? $4,975.

 

This 1964 Studebaker Commander (in Bermuda Brown Metallic, the same FACTORY shade as the GT Hawk at Carlisle last week) had 21,000 original miles on it, was an unrestored car, and looked it. We had a lengthy discussion with the owner, who pointed out that the only option on this 6-cylinder engine, 3-speed manual car was a cigar lighter. He was asking $5,500.

 

There were several Triumph TR-6s in the corral, and this was one of the nicer ones. A 1972 model has the smaller bumpers, and this green-over-tan car was nicely set off by oversize tires on Panasport wheels. The mods continued under the hood with dual Webers. It was cosmetically spotless. The owners were asking $12,900.

 

This 1958 Triumph TR-3 was in baby blue over a medium blue interior, with whitewalls on chrome wires. It looked like you could hop right in and go for a cruise. This “older restoration” was for sale for $17,900.

 

This 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible was parked next to an identical model from 1965. It was interesting to note the styling changes, both inside and out, with my vote going to the ’66. This one was cosmetically less attractive, but it had the more reasonable asking price of $20,000.

 

This 1971 Jaguar XKE Series III coupe, again in Primrose yellow, was claimed to be a 97,000 mile unrestored car (you may have noticed the continuing trend toward “unrestored / all-original / barn find” cars for sale). All Series III cars rode on the longer 2+2 wheelbase and used the V-12 engine. This one was a stick (many Series III cars were automatic). There were rough spots, but it was about as reasonably-priced an E-Type as you’ll find for $39,000.

 

Jurrasic World comes to Hershey
Jurassic World comes to Hershey

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

 

The 2016 NJ AACA Car Show

The New Jersey Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America (NJ AACA) held its annual car show at the Mennen Arena in Morristown NJ on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Compared to previous events, this year’s affair was unique in several ways: this was the first time that this location was utilized, as the venue which had been used for the previous 40+ years in Florham Park NJ was unavailable; and the turnout this year was the smallest your author has ever observed.

Yes, this was the NJ Region's 65th show
Yes, this was the NJ Region’s 65th show

The reason why 30 vehicles instead of the expected 200+ vehicles were in attendance had nothing to do with the location, and everything to do with the weather. The NJ AACA maintains a strict “rain or shine” show policy, but a steady series of showers combined with temperatures parked in the mid-40s kept entrants and spectators away in droves.

This '30 Model A was one of the very few pre-war cars out to brave the elements
This ’30 Model A was one of the very few pre-war cars out to brave the elements

Nevertheless, vehicles did arrive, even if for the most part they were owned by club members. An advantage for those whose cars were to be judged is that no class had more than 4 vehicles in it (some had 2), and with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes to be awarded, your chance of winning went up exponentially.

A trio immediate post-war iron: 2 Mercs and a Hudson
A trio of immediate post-war iron: 2 Mercurys and a Hudson

Below is a sample of the fine machinery, both domestic and imported, which graced the show field. A trend which has been noticed on the National level was also found at this event: as AACA’s “25-year” rule continues in effect, the inclusion of unrestored and/or original-owner cars is growing, reinforced by vehicles which were considered collectible when new and were salted away (think Eldorado, Fiero, Beetle convertible, and anything first-year, last-year, or commemorative edition).

General Motors

 

This Fiero was displayed in unrestored condition by its original owner
This Fiero was displayed in unrestored condition by its original owner

 

FoMoCo

Jeep

 

This immaculate Jeepster was driven to and from the show
This immaculate Jeepster was driven to and from the show

Italian

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Hershey Report, 2015

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The annual car show formally called the “Antique Automobile Club of America Eastern Division National Fall Meet”, but known the world over simply as “Hershey,” was held for the 60th time on October 7-10, 2015. The event takes over most of the 121-acre grounds which are Hersheypark, plus some adjoining property. The town of Hershey PA, which not coincidentally is also home to national AACA headquarters, gives itself completely to “Hershey Week”. If you want a nearby hotel room next year, book it 4-6 months in advance.

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For those who have never been to Hershey, describing it as the biggest car show on the East Coast and one of the biggest car shows in the world does not do it justice. Most of Hersheypark’s paved lots are blanketed with flea market vendors. Hundreds of antique and classic cars are offered for sale in the Car Corral. Saturday is the show’s raison d’être, as the finest restored cars and trucks in the country compete at a judged car show. Hershey attracts participants and spectators from around the world, many of whom have been making the annual trek for decades.

These die-hards renew old acquaintances, seek out valuable parts needed for their restorations, and buy and/or sell cars with regularity. Your scribe first attended Hershey in the late 1970s, and has not missed a meet since the late 1990s. If your interest is in stock (meaning unmodified) cars that are 25 years old and older, as required by AACA guidelines, this is the place to be. Newer and heavily modified vehicles (and parts for them) need not apply.

Hershey is endemic of, but not responsible for, many of the changes we’ve witnessed as the hobby has grown, changed, and matured. In years past, an automotive flea market consisted of vendors with rusty old junkyard parts, or obsolete dealer parts stock. Either way, the parts were in milk crates, scattered on folding tables, or spread out on tarps on the ground. You had better well know your needs, because you were going to spend hours looking through those piles to find that gem in the rough.

At many flea markets today, you can seek out a vendor who specializes in your make and model vehicle. Once you inform the vendor of your vehicle particulars, the part, remanufactured as an aftermarket component, probably “offshore” (a nice euphemism which allows you to avoid saying “China”), is handed over, neatly packaged in hard plastic. This is if you even bother to attend the flea market. Much of this stuff is available online with a few clicks of the mouse button.

Given two facts, one, that AACA is strict about its 25-year-old-and-older rule, and two, that many of the Hershey veterans still have a huge interest in pre-war (WWII) cars, the flea market has fewer of the reproduction vendors that you would likely see at Carlisle, for instance. The thrill of the hunt still applies. The photos below affirm that Hershey still does the flea market the old-fashioned (some would say the more fun) way:

THE CAR CORRAL, SUB-$10,000 EDITION

The Hershey Car Corral always has a nice variety of cars for sale. This year, the variety of domestic and imported vehicles seemed greater than usual. That is not to say that every car in the corral is an instant classic. There are those run-what-you-brung cars that look like they were someone’s daily driver as recently as last week. Part of my reaction to these cars is because I was of driving age when they were new. Heck, I saw cars for sale that were new at the car dealerships where I worked in the 1980s.

The good news is that many of these types of cars have low asking prices, and can serve as excellent starter vehicles for someone new to the hobby. (My friends and I enjoy pointing these out to those who say the hobby has become too expensive to enter.) Here are some random choices for those with limited means who still want an AACA-eligible car.

1990 Pontiac Firebird
1990 Pontiac Firebird

One of the few car corral vehicles from the newest-allowable model year, the sign on this 1990 Firebird claimed it to be a one-owner car with 52,000 miles. The asking price was $6,000, likely held back because of the V6 under the hood. But moving down the road, who would know?

 

1965 Jeep J-10 pickup
1965 Jeep J-10 pickup

With an asking price of $4,800, this 1965 Jeep J-10 pickup truck is rare. Many were used as work trucks and long ago met their fate at the crusher. Four-wheel-drive and V8 power meant that little was going to stop your forward motivation. The Colorado license plate helped assure that there was little to no body rust (none that could be seen with a cursory look). Buy this and you’re practically guaranteed to have the only one at the next Cars & Coffee.

 

1981 Honda Civic
1981 Honda Civic

Squeaking in under the wire of our self-imposed $10,000 limit with an ask of $9,900, this 1981 Honda Civic had many scratching their heads. Sure, by year and unmodified condition, it’s eligible. My personal reaction is that I remember doing new-car prep at the dealership on them, and my then-best friend bought one of these new. They CAN’T be allowed here, can they?

 

1979 Triumph TR7
1979 Triumph TR7

By my account, the least expensive operational vehicle in the car corral, this Triumph appeared to have arrived under its own power. The sign on it said “new transmission, new clutch, new interior, runs great, fun car!” Asking price? $2,800. Make ‘em an offer.

 

1984 Datsun 280ZX
1984 Datsun 280ZX

This car’s cleanliness belied its reported 123,000 miles. The paint and interior were unblemished. It was a stick to boot. Thursday’s price was $7,400, Friday’s was $6,500. Don’t know if he sold it, but this was a later “Z” that wouldn’t require the gold chains to be worn (by you, not the car).

 

1978 Cadillac Seville
1978 Cadillac Seville

My Caddy friends assure me that these first-generation Sevilles are future collectibles. We’ll see. However, if you wanted a sharp driver in a very appealing black over red, this car could do it. The windshield write-up claimed it to be a one-owner, 80k car. Another one going through a fire sale, Friday’s price was $5,600, down from an earlier $5,900.

1980 Mazda RX-7
1980 Mazda RX-7

First generation Mazda RX-7s are another model which pundits claim will double in value “soon”. Hasn’t happened yet. In the meantime, good clean cars sell for credit card money, and someone is having fun. This 1980 rotary rocket with 82,000 miles could be yours for $7,850. Handwritten next to the price was “let’s talk $”.

 

1987 Corvette
1987 Corvette

Sure, SS 396 Camaros and Shelby Mustangs are never going to make mention in a chapter called “sub-$10,000 cars”. But that’s not to say that good ol’ American performance can’t be had at that number. How about a Corvette? Seriously. The C4 Corvettes (1984-1996) are quite affordable right now. Here’s proof, in the form of a 1987 coupe. Yes, it’s a 350/auto with incorrect wheels, but at $7,750, it’s something you could drive every day and display at cruise nights.
THE CAR CORRAL, VOLVO EDITION

 

Volvo 122S wagon
Volvo 122S wagon

Two Volvos in particular stood out for me. A 122 wagon, in white over red, stick shift of course, was fresh from the Pacific Northwest, and looked it, as there were no signs of visible rust in the body. The ask of $14,500 may have seemed high, but try to find another one this solid on the East Coast. (Recent Bring A Trailer sales of 122s have approached $20,000.)

 

1979 Volvo 242DL
1979 Volvo 242DL

By contrast, this 1979 242DL, with automatic and (dealer installed) a/c, was super clean, and in that requisite 1970s brown. But $12,500? See sub-$10,000 cars above. This Volvo was for someone who HAS to have this particular configuration.
THE CAR CORRAL, NOT IN THE CORRAL EDITION

Not every car for sale at Hershey is in the designated car corral. There were some interesting finds in the flea market area. There are also cars for sale in the parking lot, possibly as a way to avoid paying the AACA car corral fee.

 

1963 Studebaker Avanti
1963 Studebaker Avanti

This Studebaker Avanti from the first year of production is distinguishable by its round headlight bezels. This car also has the desirable 4-speed with factory air. At $26,995, the asking price fell in between CPI’s “good” $14,000 and “excellent” $29,000 values.

 

1967 Porsche 912
1967 Porsche 912

Porsche 911s of all years, body styles, and performance levels are hot right now. The joke is that 911 pricing is like the fish at your favorite seafood restaurant: “market pricing”, which is X today and will likely change upward tomorrow. But the 912, the 4-cylinder variant, remains relatively affordable. This car was in the parking lot across the street. The sign said its engine had been swapped out for a 1969 version. The owner was asking $29,000. Going down the road, no one will know you’re not packing a flat-6. (By way of reference, nice 1967 911s are approaching six figures.)

 

1954 Ford
1954 Ford

This 1954 Ford convertible was hanging out in the flea market. The asking price, if it had been displayed, was now gone, and the car was marked “sold”. Given its overall dreadful condition, I took it as a healthy sign for the hobby that someone out there was willing to take it on. No word whether the Fire Chief pedal car was included (might be worth more than the Ford).
SATURDAY’S CAR SHOW

My great friend and fellow rally driver Steve H and I have made the trip to Hershey together numerous times. It was one trip in the 1990s when we discovered that if we arrived early enough on Saturday morning, we could have the pleasure of watching the parade of cars as they entered the show field (AACA rules require that show cars be driven onto the field under their own power).

As has become my custom, I was on the grounds before 8 a.m., and found a good viewing spot. It is endlessly entertaining to see the cars. If you’re close enough, you can also capture the drivers’ faces, almost every one of them grinning as they proudly pilot their machines. Below is an assortment of vehicles moving under their own power before finding their designated show field spots (click on these, or any photos in the post, to enlarge them).

 

 

FINAL COMMENTS

Sometimes, the “business” of the hobby causes us to forget that this IS a hobby, which means we’re doing this for fun. And looking around at the sights and sounds, plenty of people at Hershey are having fun. We’ll leave you with a few photos as reminders.

 

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

NJ Region AACA Meet, May 3, 2015

The New Jersey Region of the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) held its 64th annual Spring Meet on Sunday, May 3, 2015, in Florham Park NJ. The location was the immense parking lot of the Automatic Switch Company, the same spot it’s been for the past 50 years. We had tremendous spring weather for a car show: temps in the low 80s, with lots of sunshine and low humidity.

Vehicle registration into the show is not limited to club members; the general public is invited, and they do turn out in force. While adherence to AACA rules (25-years-old and older vehicles in “stock” condition) is encouraged, there is a special custom class, and no one turns away vehicles that have mild modifications. This approach helps bring in the traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian.

Flea market vendors lined the perimeter of the show field.
Flea market vendors lined the perimeter of the show field.

In addition to the judged field, the NJ Region has a car corral, flea market, and food vendors on site. While small compared to Hershey (what am I saying? We could fill this lot with vendors and it would be small compared to Hershey), it provides some variety and encourages show-goers to mingle for the day.

The food truck was run by Mary, Queen of Pork. Her chicken was good too.
The food truck was run by Mary, Queen of Pork. Her chicken was good too.

This blog entry will focus on the photos, and you’ll see the very broad range of cars on display: pre-war and post-war, domestic and import, trailer queens and daily drivers. Remember that clicking on the photos will enlarge them.

The meet committee members were efficient as usual; judging was completed shortly after lunch, trophy award presentations commenced before 2pm, and we were packed up and outta there by 3pm. Car show season has officially begun!

1968 Ford Mustang convertible.
1968 Ford Mustang convertible.
1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider.
1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider.
The front trunk ("frunk") on a 2nd generation Chevrolet Corvair.
The front trunk (“frunk”) on a 2nd generation Chevrolet Corvair.
The iconic rear glass of a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette split-window coupe.
The iconic rear glass of a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette split-window coupe.
Mercedes Benz 190SL roadster.
Mercedes Benz 190SL roadster.
Early '60s Lincoln Continental convertible, the last domestically-produced 4-door car with "suicide" rear doors.
Early ’60s Lincoln Continental convertible, the last domestically-produced 4-door car with “suicide” rear doors.
A beautifully restored VW bus, lowered and wearing Porsche wheels.
A beautifully restored VW bus, lowered and wearing Porsche wheels.
The VW bus engine compartment never looked this good from the factory.
The VW bus engine compartment never looked this good from the factory.
A Packard Caribbean convertible, featuring tri-tone paint.
A Packard Caribbean convertible, featuring tri-tone paint.
The "gunsight" tail light of a 1955 Chrysler Imperial.
The “gunsight” tail light of a 1955 Chrysler Imperial.
The unique sliding door arrangement on a Kaiser Darrin (one of THREE at the show!).
The unique sliding door arrangement on a Kaiser Darrin (one of THREE at the show!).
T-Bird tails.
T-Bird tails.
A 1937 Packard convertible (owned by my friend Ron Novrit).
A 1937 Packard convertible (owned by my friend Ron Novrit).
A 1963 (first year) Studebaker Avanti. Note the round headlight bezels, found only in '63.
A 1963 (first year) Studebaker Avanti. Note the round headlight bezels, found only in ’63.
A 1959 Ford Skyliner, with the retractable hardtop in the "display" position.
A 1959 Ford Skyliner, with the retractable hardtop in the “display” position.
In the 1950s, Dodge was one of several car companies offering three different colors on one vehicle.
In the 1950s, Dodge was one of several car companies offering three different colors on one vehicle.
There was a time when a "continental kit" was an item of necessity, not of decor!
There was a time when a “continental kit” was an item of necessity, not of decor!
At one time, one could choose a luxury car like a Cadillac, or a compact car like a Metropolitan (which might fit in the Caddy's trunk).
At one time, one could choose a luxury car like a Cadillac, or a compact car like a Metropolitan (which might fit in the Caddy’s trunk).
A first-generation Mercury Capri, rarely seen in the East, as they all rusted away.
A first-generation Mercury Capri, rarely seen in the East, as they all rusted away.
A Lancia Beta Zagato.
A Lancia Beta Zagato.
A 1966 Buick Riviera.
A 1966 Buick Riviera.
A 1927 LaSalle, a GM nameplate that would not survive but a few more years.
A 1927 LaSalle, a GM nameplate that would not survive but a few more years.

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.