Antique car show to fill downtown New Bern streets with vintage vehicles

·4 min read
Ben St. John stands beside his '78 Mercedes.
Ben St. John stands beside his '78 Mercedes.

The weekend's forecast calls for scattered showers and thunderstorms, but it will not hinder the Antique Car Show planned for Saturday in the streets of downtown New Bern.

Zach Simons, president of First Capital Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), said he has been participating in the shows for 20 years and has yet to cancel the show due to rain. He does not plan to start this year.

Portions of Middle, Pollock and Craven Streets will be blocked off to motorists beginning at 10 a.m., as prized automobiles ranging from century-old “Tin Lizzies” to supercharged muscle cars of the 1990s line the streets.

"There will be Corvettes, foreign cars, hot rods, pickup trucks and military motorcycles," Simons said. "We also have a Morris, which is a rare vehicle today."

Expected entries will span the ages from a 1915 Ford Model T to a 1995 Mustang SVT Cobra, from a 1934 Terraplane to a 1947 Lincoln Continental convertible that was the eighth off the assembly line and one of only 24 believed to be in existence. Classic Ford Thunderbirds, Chevrolet Corvettes, Pontiac GTOs, Studebaker Golden Hawks and various other American and foreign marques also will be on display.

Simons said there are 72 cars registered for the event with 50 more expected to enter on the morning of the show.

And entries for the show are still being accepted. Any 25-year-old motor vehicle may be entered regardless of make, model or condition, and an owner does not have to be an AACA club member.

The registration fee is $20 per vehicle in advance and $25 the day of the show. Registration forms are available by visiting ncregionaaca/firstcapital.com, by email at zacsim@aol.com, or by calling 252-626-0286. Dash plaques will be given to the first 100 registrants.

"There is something for everyone," he said. "We have antiques for those who love the classics and something for people who like the newer cars."

The show opens to the public at 10 a.m. and concludes with the awarding of trophies at 3 p.m. at the intersection of Pollock and Middle streets.

Cars will be parked back bumper to curb along the tree-shaded streets flanked by boutiques, specialty shops, and restaurants housed in classically preserved structures rich in reminders of the city’s 300-plus-year-old past.

Show attendees will be within walking distance of such attractions as the North Carolina History Center, Tryon Palace, the Firemen’s Museum, The Pepsi Store, Mitchell’s back-in-time hardware emporium, Civil War sites, and homes dating from the mid-1700s, including the Stanly House where George Washington slept during his Southern Tour.

Zach Simons, president of the local AACA chapter is pictured with his '93 Caprice in a previous show.
Zach Simons, president of the local AACA chapter is pictured with his '93 Caprice in a previous show.

‘A celebration of automotive history’

Attendees will be introduced to a selection of 2022 automobiles by Chevrolet of New Bern, a major supporter of the show. Several body styles of current model year Chevys will be displayed at the intersection of Middle and Pollock streets and in a lot at the corner of Broad and Middle streets.

A special People's Choice Award will be presented in honor of Marshall Van Winkle, who founded the local AACA chapter in 1991. Marshall was an avid car enthusiast who participated in approximately 500 shows, and his Model T spent a year on display in Hershey, Pa. He passed away earlier this year.

Marshall Van Winkle stands beside his multiple--award-winning Model T at a past New Bern car show.
Marshall Van Winkle stands beside his multiple--award-winning Model T at a past New Bern car show.

There will be a 50/50 drawing and a silent auction for prizes donated by local area auto parts stores, restaurants and a golf club. The proceeds from the sales will benefit local charities and a scholarship program First Capital sponsors at Craven Community College.

The club has held a show annually since 1992, except in 2020 when it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Of the 30 shows, two were North Carolina AACA regional meets and six were AACA national meets, including Grand National meets in 2002 and 2010 and an AACA Southeastern Fall Meet in 2016.

First Capital is one of 14 AACA chapters in North Carolina. Headquartered in Hershey, Pa., the AACA is an international organization with members in 41 countries.

Membership is open to any individuals interested in the preservation, restoration and maintenance of automobiles and automotive history. Ownership of an antique vehicle is not a membership requirement. The club meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month at Moore’s Olde Tyme Barbeque, 3621Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., New Bern.

“This is a celebration of automotive history that will evoke memories of hand-cranked engines, rumble seats, continental kits , fender skirts, stick shifts, and 17-cent-a-gallon gasoline,” Simons said, adding that ”for three decades the show has been a crowd-pleaser annually attracting thousands of car enthusiasts from throughout the state.”

This article originally appeared on Sun Journal: Antique car show features vintage vehicles, motorcycles, fire trucks