Merced County Times Newspaper
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Halloween Car Show Offers Enchanting View Of Classics

 

The second one was even better than the first, and the Merced Police Department’s repeat Halloween car show provided a delightful mix of vintage vehicles, costumed youngsters and adults along with more candy than you could imagine — or eat.

The Saturday event in front of the police station on West 22nd Street featured 40 old cars and trucks. Police Chief Tom Cavallero’s drab green World War II U.S. Army Jeep had the place of honor in front of the station. Just across the street was one of the Merced Fire Department’s early fire engines.

A substantial-sized crowd of people from all ages mingled along the street in ideal weather. A clever riding dinosaur costume got many a second look along with cars and trucks decorated with spiders, skeletons, coffins and other Halloween trademarks. Two youngsters in a stroller had miniature policemen’s uniforms. Creativity is the name of the game when it comes to costumes, along with cars.

One can always expect to see an old car that they have never spotted before and Saturday’s shindig was no exception. My favorite vehicle for the day had to be a 1966 Mercury Cyclone convertible. It was painted in bright orange with black accent striping and graphics. Even the engine had matching orange Edelbrock valve covers and air cleaner. The four-speed car had an all-black interior and was the epitome of 1960s muscle cars.

One of the more unusual vehicles on hand was a severely-shortened 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle in a hot pink color with Hot Wheels graphics. It wasn’t an El Camino or a regular hardtop either, sporting some unusual but crafty bodywork. The large rear tires gave a hint that a formidable powerplant lurked under the hood.

Also being unveiled Saturday was a 1929 Ford Model A roadster featuring lots of vintage touches along with an original-looking four-cylinder engine. Painted in a dark brown color with numbers on the doors, the Model A had narrow tires and spoke wheels to capitalize on its vintage motif. Leaving the show, the Model A had a sewing machine-like motor sound that was easy on the ears.

Vintage also was the name of the game with a 1951 Chevrolet two-door sedan with a fresh interior, shiny red-orange top and an older light body color that could have been an original hue. The car had a Broadway Motors, Atwater, license plate frame likely as old as the car itself.

Along with plenty of cars, the show included appearances by state Sen. Anna Cabellero and Assembly candidate Esmeralda Soria, both attired in superhero-type costumes. Along with many of the attendees, the two politicos helped dispense copious amounts of candy to the eager crowd.

Back for a second time was a 2014 Maserati, which had a throaty exhaust tone when it was leaving. Nearby was a 1956 Ford two-door Ranch Wagon in a red-orange and white paint scheme, with wide whitewall tires.

One of the rarest cars on the street was a 1941 Studebaker Commander four-door sedan. This cream-colored cruiser had a modern powerplant and a lavish interior, along with its distinctive grille and taillights. A 1941 Buick four-door sedan was looking its Sunday best for a Saturday.

Who doesn’t love a 1966 Chevrolet C10 Custom Fleetside pickup, painted in a metallic blue color and looking immaculate? Right next to it was a 1956 Ford pickup with an eyecatching yellow and white paint scheme and a flip nose. Another 1956 Ford pickup in metallic gray was a few cars down, featuring many of the mechanical parts scavenged from a retired police cruiser.

Rosa Alcaraz, event coordinator and a police-community liaison for the Merced Police Department, said the event provides the community with a safe way to celebrate Halloween. Police Lt. Dan Dabney said the event was very successful and they plan to do it again next year.

Not only were the vehicles winners but proceeds from the event go to the animals at the Applegate Park Zoo. Last year $1,200 was raised for the zoo and Dabney expected even more this year.

Halloween is not my favorite holiday but I still look forward to this event involving cars, costumes and candy.

 

Winners at the Lodge

More than 50 vintage and collectible cars and trucks beckoned enthusiasts’ attention at a recent Sunday show at Merced’s Italo-American Lodge. The show was over all too soon but all of the cars could be considered winners in my view.

You might be surprised, however, at the vehicle I considered my favorite at that Sunday show.

It was a plain Jane 1961 Chrysler Newport four-door sedan, painted in a faded light brown color. The Chrysler had all the bells and whistles of the day, including a V-8 engine, spacious and comfortable interior, ample trunk storage space and some unique styling features.

Those Chryslers were festooned with prominent tailfins just as the “fin era” was about to peter out. A narrative with the car, not from this area, said it was a barn find and still had relatively low mileage for something 61 years of age. The Chrysler looked decent but not dazzling. It was something you wouldn’t be reluctant to drive here and there or even park in your driveway.

I don’t often see 1951 Ford convertibles; a lime green droptop sure stood out among the crowd. Old car buffs fairly regularly see 1959 Chevrolet El Camino cargo haulers. The Sunday show had a 1960 El Camino which has a little bit more restrained styling than its older brother. Nearby was a compact 1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero which combined some attractive styling with its built-in utility.

A 1972 Chevrolet Blazer certainly was lifted up, had monster-sized tires and was a sure-fire four-wheel-drive rock crawler. It had a pretty frisky motor and sounded great leaving West 18th Street.

Also not seen very often was a natty 1958 Ford F-100 pickup in green and white. The 1961-63 Thunderbirds get all the attention these days but the 1959 Tbird hardtop chilling out on the street looked equally good.

Fans of late 1960s Chrysler muscle cars give most of their attention to the Plymouth Roadrunners and GTX vehicles. Seen at Merced’s show was a 1969 Dodge Dart GTS two-door hardtop, a slightly smaller Mopar that still sported plenty of go-fast goodies. A 1973 Dodge Challenger hardtop also could keep up with the performance parade as could a 1969 Dodge Coronet two-door hardtop.

The “guest list” for all car shows is always different. Sunday’s show had not one but two 1957 Thunderbird roadsters, with their distinctive lift-off top, complete with porthole windows. A stately 1941 Buick four-door sedan also got its share of admiring gazes as did a 1956 Ford pickup truck. Two women were enjoying their time in a bright orange open air Model A street rod roadster.

Gaining style points with me was a 1962 Chevrolet SS two-door hardtop, parked near a 1961 Chevy which also caught the eye. Another great “Bowtie” product was a 1956 Chevrolet four-door station wagon which could transport the family all over town with some elegance.

Continuing the elegance focus, a 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 was painted in an orange and cream scheme. Ford Mustangs are always popular and you couldn’t miss 1966 and 1968 Mustang hardtops. Also painted in orange and cream hues was a 1950 Chevy street machine pickup with a lowered stance and lots of added chrome.

I was leaving the show about the same time as a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro hardtop with plenty of power and a very healthy exhaust note. No show is complete without a 1970 Chevy Nova sedan, this one sporting a 350 cubic-inch engine.

Folks were friendly, the weather couldn’t have been much better and the car show raised needed funds for Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera.

That’s my idea of an ideal way to spend part of your Sunday afternoon.

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