Car show season is back

It was like a colt being put out to pasture.

After what seemed like nearly an eternity of being cooped up while the ravages of winter lingered outside, the car show season is back, and last weekend provided back-to-back thrills. It was great to get out, see some great cars and visit with like-minded car enthusiasts.

A sizable car show is held the first Friday night of the month at the Hangar Cafe at the Merced municipal airport. Last Friday’s event was jumping, and it included a number of first-ever sightings. It was one of the most fun events I’ve attended in quite some time.

You couldn’t help but notice an early 1950s Nash two-door sedan. It had a fabric convertible roof, dual exhaust and factory-original fender skirts that covered two-thirds of the wheels. It was a driver, with a few paint chips here and there, but something I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

A late 1940s Ford F100 pickup in bright-red paint sported a chopped top, dog dish hubcaps, and smoothed front and rear bumpers. It was a very slick melding of contemporary street-machine touches and a vintage pickup.

A mid-1950s Chevrolet Stepside pickup had a vintage teardrop trailer tagging along behind. That puts a new perspective on camping and definitely is better than roughing it with a tent.

In mid-evening, some folks in a jet-black 1964 Cadillac four-door sedan showed up. Sporting hydraulics and lowrider-style wheels, the in-progress Cad was sitting low and looking good.

There were two red 1972 Chevelle two-door hardtops parked next to each other. They were nearly identical, but one of them had a big-block motor.

Nearby was a 1964 Chevrolet convertible, also in red, that had to be fun when it comes to open-air cruising. It was parked next to a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback with a highly chromed motor that gleamed. Red certainly was the color of the day.

A late 1940s Oldsmobile coupe, cloaked in light-gray primer, had a show-quality custom interior in white tuck-and-roll with black piping along the seams. This is going to be a stunner when it’s finished.

Variety definitely is the norm for the airport show; everything from showroom-stock cars to cutting-edge customs and rat rods were on hand. Food, drink and live music add to the charm of the event, in its second month.

I caught about an hour’s worth of Modesto’s American Graffiti Festival on Saturday afternoon at the west campus of Modesto Junior College. There were upward of 1,100 vehicles there earlier in the day, but the extreme heat had driven some of them away by late afternoon.

A few blocks from the college, I spied an early 1960s Corvair station wagon that looked showroom-new. On the MJC grounds, there was a four-door 1951 Mercury sedan sporting mild custom touches.

Muscle cars seemed to be predominant, along with some early 1950s Chevrolets. There was plenty to feast one’s eyes on and to prove Modesto is a hotbed of old-car enthusiasm.

The good thing is there are lots more car shows in the area to enjoy this summer and fall before the winter chill sets in again.