All revved up
CONSHOHOCKEN >> When this driver purchased a brand new 1991 Toyota Supra, I had no idea that lowslung white car would spark so many stranger-initiated conversations — on parking lots, at stop lights, in gas stations. You name it. But nearly 27 years (and a mere 70,000 miles) later, the Supra and I are still besties, and those random chats have increased in frequency: What kind of car is it exactly? Would I sell it to them? Would I take their number and call if I ever decide to sell?
One parking attendant even asked whether I’d swap it for his new BMW. Wait … what? Maybe the better question is “why?”
Some people have said it’s a good-looking car that’s rarely seen. Others say they’d gut it for racing. Many of the queries have come with stories. One man waited for me to park outside a local convenience store before telling me about his late son, who had owned the same model before totaling it in a lethal crash. “I haven’t seen one since and … couldn’t believe it when I saw you pull up,” he said.
What attracts people to cars? Apparently, everything under the sun …
Take the diverse demographics that make the Conshohocken Car Show — and the multitude of other car shows and meetups that take place in the area — successful year after year. Conshy’s 16th annual Car Show is scheduled for June 3, and its volunteer organizers have no reason to believe the blocks-long showcase will be any different.
“These shows bring out people of all ages, because they let some young guy show off the 2000 muscle car he’s working on, and they let an old guy relive his youth two generations ago,” one spokesman reasons. “They speak to all ages.”
The borough car show is sponsored by Mayor Robert Frost’s Special Events Committee and will take over Fayette Street between Third and Ninth avenues from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cars, trucks, motorcycles and emergency vehicles — antique, classic or contemporary — all are welcome. Check-in is set for 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Ninth Avenue. Preregistration is $15; day-of, $20.
The show’s sponsors are John Kennedy Ford, Bryn Mawr Trust, Murray Kia, Ameriprise Financial, Coll’s Custom Framing, Schank Printing and Don-len Trophies. Thanks to their largesse, some 70 trophies and “special trophies” will be awarded, and all exhibitors will receive dash plaques and T-shirts.
According to organizers, the show routinely draws between 200 and 300 vehicles from “the entire Philadelphia region.” Also on tap for the event: appearances by the Phillie Phanatic from 10 to 11 a.m. and the South Philadelphia String Band from 11 a.m. to noon; ongoing music courtesy DJ Dale Sherry of Sherry Productions; a 50/50 raffle; a variety of automotive-related vendors; and “all kinds of food and drink from the numerous local restaurants along Fayette Street.”
In addition, the show will include displays and demos by Destolfo’s Premier Martial Art and — back by popular demand — the “family friendly” pin-up models, who “make for terrific photo opportunities” in their 1920s/1930s motif dress.
One organizer says some of the day’s most interesting moments stem from impromptu conversations with exhibitors:
“When you walk the street and talk to people, some of the stories they tell are fabulous.
“For example, how this is their first car from when they were teenagers and they never got rid of it or how it was their father’s or father-in-law’s and they’re keeping it up. What they’ve gone through, the money they’ve spent, to restore these things. Like how some guy found an original tie rod out in Arizona for $120 and had it mailed to him. Or how somebody else found an original fender for his ’55 Chevy out West for $500. People love shopping for car [parts] out West because of the weather. They don’t get snow, so there’s no salt on the roads, no harsh winters like the ones that can destroy metal here.”
Of course, local historians like the late William Collins (author of the Times Herald’s popular Under the Spreading Maple Trees column) and contemporary historian Jack Coll have reminded today’s drivers that road conditions in the borough were once unreliable year-round.
“Bill Collins did a column in 1964 about Joseph Mcgrath of Conshohocken obtaining his driver’s license in 1900 and going on to teach a number of the residents back then how to drive the ‘horseless carriage,’” Coll says. “By 1904, carriages with motors strapped onto them were part of the borough’s landscape. But the dirt roads back then would have been terrible, especially when it rained, and you had these gulleys on Fayette Street that could be 6-foot across and, maybe, 4-foot deep … that people had to navigate.” If it rains on June 3, there probably won’t be gulleys, but the Conshohocken Car Show will be rescheduled for June 10.
Additional information is available at 484-680-0893 or 610-825-7072.
Cars line Fayette Street during last year’s Conshohocken Car Show. This year’s event is scheduled for June 3.
Conshohocken Mayor Bob Frost stands in front of the Philadelphia String Band as it performs at last year’s car show. The group will return to the 2017 show June 3.