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.
All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.