Merced County Times Newspaper
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Nice surprises at car show to celebrate Atwater’s birth


Atwater continued to celebrate its 100th anniversary last Saturday, and part of the fun was a neat old car show near the Bloss House.

Close to two dozen vintage vehicles were parked in the shade next to the historic dwelling. Some of them were familiar to me but there were a couple of nice surprises as well.

One of my favorites for the day was a little yellow and white 1950s Nash Metropolitan. It was as sweet as a piece of lemon meringue pie and twice as good looking. These little compacts with the English drivetrain are a delight to see and cruising in one has to be a fun experience.

Not very often do you see a 1970 GMC Sprint half-pickup. There was nothing wrong with this gentlemanly pickup, which is a close cousin to the Chevrolet El Camino.

A 1935 Hudson four-door sedan with wide whitewall tires always looks good and gets pressed into service at weddings. The silver Hudson shares garage space with a 1930 Ford pickup truck that looks pretty much stock with some performance enhancements.

And there were two bright red 1934 Ford hot rods in Atwater, one a five-window coupe and the other a three-window sporting some impressive flame graphics on its fenders.

Everybody’s favorite car, a 1965 Ford Mustang hardtop in black, showed up with an impressive-sounding engine and aftermarket wheels.

Another great car anywhere was a 1966 Cadillac four-door sedan with a mild custom vibe, a hydraulic suspension and the typical luxuries you would expect from a Caddy. I am always drawn to a four-door 1960 Buick hardtop with a bevy of mild customizing touches and a ground-hugging stance.

I cannot ignore 1941 Chevrolets and an elegant four-door sedan pegs the meter. On the less-civilized side there was a 1930 Ford five-window coupe with a Chrysler Hemi V-8 engine nearby that flips between show car and performance personas with ease.

You might be surprised to know a smooth-looking 1956 Ford pickup has many of the mechanical parts from a former Merced police car moving it along.

Fans of the Tri-Five Chevrolets wouldn’t have gone home disappointed at the centennial celebration. A 1955 Chevrolet two-door sedan chocked full of go-fast gleaming engine parts was parked near a 1955 Chevy four-door station wagon, this one pretty close to the way it left the dealership.

Off to the side just a few spaces down were two blasts from the past: A 1913 Ford Model T four-door touring car and a 1922 Model T single seat roadster. The roadster had its original wooden spoke wheels over balloon tires and a prominent spare tire bringing up the rear.

The gentleman who owns the Model T roadster demonstrated something most folks, myself included, have never seen. The gent, dressed in period garb, used the front hand crank to start up the T; there is quite a trick getting the car started without getting your arm broken in the process. Then it took some adjustments to the spark and fuel supply levers to get the four-cylinder motor running smoothly. The simplistic roadster had one amp gauge in the middle of its spartan dash and a long brake handle to the left.

Both Model Ts had all the original patina you would expect from something a century old. An accompanying sign said the 1913 phaeton sold for $550 new which was a lot of money way back when.

Probably the newest vehicle on display was a 1990 Corvette ZR1 convertible. While 30 mph is about the top speed for the Model Ts, this bright-red Corvette likely could spin the speedometer over and go more than 100 mph on the road with ease.

One of the nice things about these car shows is the variety you find. There was something for just about everybody’s taste, coupled with friendly people, stately surroundings and pleasant temperatures for most of the day.

It was a great day to spend a Saturday morning, all the while wishing Atwater another century of great living.

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