Doane Yawger: Variety among 300 vintage vehicles at Castle car show in Merced

There’s no such thing as a bum car show but some are pleasant surprises, well beyond expectations.

Organizers were hoping for perhaps a couple hundred cars at best several Saturdays ago at the Castle Air Museum’s car show. The turnout just about doubled that preliminary estimate and any car show with 300 or more vehicles has to be a resounding success.

So what stood out among a sea of vintage cars and trucks?

I was drawn to a 1951-52 Plymouth Suburban that had been converted into a woody. Wood didn’t come naturally on those Mayflowers but the owner created a terrific-looking surfer ride, complete with bright red paint and large whitewall tires.

Despair not. There was a real 1950 Ford woody not too far away The old Plymouth had a distinctive cousin, a 1952 Plymouth business coupe, a one-seater with no back seat but an extra-large trunk originally intended for the traveling salesman.

One doesn’t often find a 1932 Graham four-door sedan. This one looked like it might have been painted several decades ago and had spent some time in a barn. A big cruiser, the Graham had a relatively fresh interior. With a little bit of work, the well-worn and faded black paint could be updated and the distinctive but dull hood ornament replated. Lots of promise for the old Graham, which looked like a gangster car in training.

Station wagons certainly catch my attention. A 1960 Rambler American wagon had bright metallic gold paint with a white top and a modern small-block Chevrolet V-8 engine in place of the original anemic four- or six-cylinder powerplant.

Lots of folks were checking out a 1941 Plymouth sedan delivery, a pretty rare car these days. You don’t see a 1933 Pontiac five-window coupe very often or a 1936 International pickup truck, either.

The Castle show had a bumper crop of 1960s muscle cars positioned around the vintage military aircraft. There were plenty of Mustangs, Camaros, Pontiac GTOs, some Chevelles, Dodge Chargers, Chevy Novas, and a Mercury Comet and American Motors’ Javelin thrown in for good measure.

A yellow-orange 1972 Chevy Blazer made into a convertible would give its riders a pretty good tan but a great view of the surroundings. To escape the sun’s rays, a jet-black 1951 Buick two-door hardtop might have been a better bet.

The showing at Castle once again proves that the Merced-Modesto area can easily sustain large old-car shows. That’s encouraging as we head into a months-long slumber brought on by winter.

Take heart: Late on a Thursday afternoon I spied a pristine 1954 Chevrolet convertible parked at the Merced post office, certainly a refreshing change from the normal motoring landscape.