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.

 

Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car Show Report, August 6, 2013

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The good folks at “Hemmings”, publishers of several well-known collector car magazines, held their 11th annual Sports & Exotic Car Show on the grounds of the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY. The event took place on Saturday, August 6, 2016. In spite of a threatening forecast (and a published rain date of Sunday August 7), the organizers decided to press on, and the weather cooperated, as the show field remained sunny and dry, if a bit warm.

The show was open to “sports cars, GTs and exotics built outside the United States prior to 1992.” Those with newer imports were still welcome to attend, but would not have their vehicles judged.

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My good friend Peter agreed to accompany me (and did most of the driving – thanks Peter!). Since I had attended one Hemmings show at the same location two years prior, I had reason to expect a professionally-run event, with a decent turnout and quality cars. We were not disappointed.

Arriving by 10:30 a.m., the show field was almost completely full. Cars were arranged by class, which for the majority of attendees was Country of Origin. As in years past, this show had several Featured Classes, including pre-1992 Jaguars, Porsche 356s, and Toyota Sports & GT cars. The big attractions for me were the two Italian Featured Classes: Fiat 124 spiders and Alfa Romeo spiders. Both the Fiat 124 spider and the Alfa Duetto/spider were celebrating their 50th anniversaries.

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The entire event had a relaxed and casual feel to it. Most cars were prepped for judging, but unlike some other judged shows, the owners seemed carefree. (No one was spotted picking blades of grass out of their tire treads.) Everyone lazily walked the grounds, chatted up the drivers, and shared their stories. The verdant setting helped with the “stroll in the park” ambiance.

At 2 p.m. sharp, the Awards Ceremony began. There was a 2nd place and 1st place trophy for each of 13 classes. (I believe judging was done by that time-honored method known as “which cars do we really like?” Nothing wrong with that, either.) The winners were lined up and slowly driven past an admiring audience. By 2:30, it was over.

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Hemmings hold two shows each year in Saratoga Springs, this one, and the larger Concours d’Elegance in September. If you haven’t been, either is highly recommended.

 

BRITISH

This 1968 Triumph 250 was voted “Best of Show”. It was immaculate, and it deserved it.

This Sunbeam Tiger was in a most unusual shade of baby blue, and we’re unsure if the color was an original choice from the factory.

Triumph Spitfires have marvelous engine access.

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MG-TFs carried the marque’s octagonal badge shape to the instrument cluster.

This Austin-Healey Bug Eye Sprite was even cuter sans bumpers.

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A Jaguar XK8 Coupe.

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A rarely-seen Lotus Elan +2.

 

GERMAN

Porsche 356s were one of the Featured Classes.

Two of the more striking ones in attendance.

This 1960 356 coupe is an unrestored survivor.

One of my show favorites: this 1969 911 has been with the same owner for 25 years. Paint was peeling off the driver’s door. He told us he didn’t care; he owns the car to drive it.

There were German cars there besides Porsche. This Mercedes Benz 230-SL had a side-facing rear jump seat.

An Opel GT, sold new in the U.S. by Buick dealers.

Another favorite: this 1979 Ford (not Mercury) Capri had been privately imported. The car was tastefully modified, was clean and straight, and must be a hoot to drive.

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SWEDISH

This Volvo 123GT looked authentic; at least it wore the correct badging. I don’t think I’ve seen an actual 123GT in about 20 years.

This was the only Volvo 1800 at the show.

 

FIAT 124 SPIDERS

There were about 20 Fiat 124 spiders at the show, with cars from the first generation (late 1960s) right through to the Pininfarina-badged cars of the mid-1980s. As a former Fiat owner, it was difficult for me to believe that this many survived. Best of all, the owners were there just to have a blast. Bellissimo!

An early car: in addition to the chrome bumpers, note the slatted grille, and the small, round side marker lights.

The placard claimed this to be an unrestored survivor.

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We spoke at length to the owner of the Positano Giallo car. He recently bought this car after it had sat, unused, in the previous owner’s garage for 30 years. There had been a small carb fire, and that owner gave up on it. The new owner refreshed the fluids, washed off 30 years of dust, and here it is.

This beauty took home 2nd place in this class.

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More, more, more

The Pininfarina cars got their first dashboard redesign.

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Here you see the 124 Spider tail lights evolve and enlarge.

 

OTHER ITALIAN

The Alfa class was disappointingly small. However, the cars that were there were gems.

Fine Italian jewelry:

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This Duetto, striking in grey, took 1st place in its class.

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Modern Alfas, in the guise of a 4C coupe and 4C spider:

A Lancia Fulvia Coupe.

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LICENSE PLATES

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The 2016 NY Auto Show

The 2016 edition of the New York International Auto Show was held in the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan’s west side, where it has been since 1987. As has been the custom, the show is run during Easter week, to give those who might be free for spring break a chance to see the show. Your author attended on Sunday, April 3, 2016, the final day the show was open to the public.

This was a car show, not an airplane show (but that's an impressive wing)
This was a car show, not an airplane show (but that’s an impressive wing)

If you’re expecting coverage of all the world- and North American premieres, look online. If you’re hoping to read about the new luxo-barge SUVs which were at the show (Maserati Levante, Bentley Bentayga, and Jaguar F-Pace), read the Robb Report. The only rhyme or reason to the vehicles I’ve written about below is that something attracted me to them. In some cases, I own or have owned similar cars. As an enthusiast, I tend to want to write about vehicles I’d like to drive. I also found myself drawn to vehicles which looked so much better in person compared to the photos I had seen (Alfa, Fiat, Buick, Ford, Volvo).

This was a car show, not a music show (but it was a clever way to display color choices)
This was a car show, not a music show (but it was a clever way to display color choices)

Whether or not you were able to attend this year’s show, here’s hoping that you enjoy the report. As always, comments are welcome!

FIAT

The star on the Fiat stand was the new 124 Spider, due to go on sale later this year. Most know that the 124 shares its platform and interior with the new, 4th generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Fiat has unique sheetmetal, and uses an FCA 1.4L turbo engine. There were only two on display: an “Azzurro” first edition car, and a red/black Abarth. The Spider looks much better in person, and seeing it up close brought home the realization that it looks nothing like its Mazda sibling, other than the fact that they are both 2-door convertibles.

TRANS-AM

Someone has cleverly taken the current Chevrolet Camaro and tacked on Pontiac front and rear fascia, creating a new “Trans-Am”. Wait a minute – isn’t this what GM did in ’67? Based on the large number of young men with cellphone cameras swarming all other these things, this concept may prove to be a success.

FORD GT

Perhaps it’s the color, as the first photos I saw of the new Ford GT were of a blue car, a color which has never appealed to me as an automotive shade. The NY car was in screaming chrome yellow; high impact is an understatement. As the cliché goes, if you need to ask the price, then you can’t afford it. Cost doesn’t matter – if you must have one and have the bucks, then there is nothing else on the road like it. No current Ferrari, Lambo, Bentley, etc., makes the visual statement that the new GT does.

VW BUDD-e

This microbus of the future is what, Volkswagen’s 4th concept along these lines? The Budd-e (how do you pronounce it, “buddy”?) is an all-electric concept that looks quite cool in person. No details were captured regarding its powertrain. You weren’t expecting a diesel, were you?

BUICK AVISTA

If you told me 20 years ago that Buick would have one of the most significant and gorgeous concepts at the auto show, I might have said, “oh sure, what are you going to tell me next, that they’re going to axe Pontiac?” But the Avista is that stunning. Like a number of cars seen at the show today, photos just don’t do justice to its flowing lines and perfect proportions. It’s a two-door, pillarless hardtop, rear-drive sport-luxury car for the 21st century.

MAZDA MX-5 “RF” CONCEPT

Another vehicle that did not impress in photos, but looks better in person, the “RF” (retractable fastback) is not a true convertible. Once you understand that, the concept makes more sense. The roof panel above the occupants electrically folds up and down, while the flying buttress pillars temporarily raise themselves to allow access for the panel. Once everything stops, those pillars are always in place (I had thought that they retracted). If you’re willing to give up the full convertible treatment for lots of style, then this is for you. If Mazda decides to build it.

VOLVO

My former employer surprised me by having the new S90 sedan at the show. The rear end treatment, polarizing in pictures, looked softer and more integrated in person. Volvo cleverly displayed not one but two 1800 coupes, one white and one blue, high above the ground. And what other automaker would think to display an elk at an auto show?

You'd call it a moose; the Swedes call it an elk
You’d call it a moose; the Swedes call it an elk

ALFA ROMEO

My current crush, if only because a ’67 Alfa GT Junior happily resides in my garage, Alfa is making a long, drawn-out comeback to the U.S. market. There was but one 4C on display, next to a former race car (Tipo 33? I saw no info about it).

The “stars” on the Alfa stand were the Giulia sedans, with absolutely no information about the cars out for show-goers to gather. (The one handout was a list of dealers in the metro NY/NJ area. I saw numerous attendees pick it up, glance at it, and put it back down. Sergio, are you listening?) I asked one woman working the display about timing and pricing, and she curtly answered: “later this year, $40 thousand range”. Gee, thanks.

The new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan
The new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan

In the metal, the Giulia 4-door has a more purposeful, athletic look. The car is “tight”, with short overhangs, and looks smaller in person (in a good way) than in photos. Seen up close, it does not resemble a BMW sedan, which was the initial reaction.

The back end of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan
The back end of the new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan

To Alfa’s credit, there was a plethora of historical information there, from a racing timeline, to displays of components from cars of the 1950s and ‘60s. The question is whether all this talk about the past will cause people to open their wallets in the showroom.

ACURA NSX

If the Ford GT hadn’t been there, the new Acura might be the supercar of the show. But compared to its Dearborn rival, the 2nd generation NSX was, well, just OK. Perhaps it’s the front end, which doesn’t look that different than most other new Acuras….

ODDS AND ENDS

There was a small display of cars from a classic car museum. Was there a better-looking pre-war front end than the one on a 1940 Ford?

1940 Ford
1940 Ford

Everyone wants a distinctive front end. A grille that stands out is one way to do it. Used to be, the grille also had to be good-looking. Seems like now it only needs to be “unique”. (I cannot bring myself to photograph the grilles on any current Lexus models.)

 

The NY Police Department had a large historical display of police cars, stretching back to a 1958 Ford. It was well done, and interest in “professional cars” as part of the old car hobby continues to grow.

What you did not want to see in your rear view mirror in 1966
What you did not want to see in your rear view mirror in 1966

GOOD HUMOR

Just plain fun – a collector vehicle AND a part-time job!

Check out the license plate
Check out the license plate

 

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