The allure of steeds of steel

What makes a car show tick

Posted 9/27/23

CALLICOON CENTER, NY — There’s just something about a car show, whether you’re a fan of hot rods, customs, muscle cars or vintage motorcycles.

Maybe it’s the sea of …

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The allure of steeds of steel

What makes a car show tick


CALLICOON CENTER, NY — There’s just something about a car show, whether you’re a fan of hot rods, customs, muscle cars or vintage motorcycles.

Maybe it’s the sea of glistening chrome and candy-apple-red paint against a sunny sky, the sound of headers, rows of classic muscle cars, or the chance to talk shop with like-minded gearheads.
There was something for everyone at the ninth annual Town of Callicoon Car Show on Sunday, August 6 at the town park.

Folks gathered to talk about the ones that got away, such as this sports scribbler’s first new car, a 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury 426 that his dad later sold for a hundred bucks.
Or the pleasure of bringing old rides back to life, and the joys of cruising the night away in a kool kat kustom.

Tom Larsen picked up the fat fender-era 1940-1952 trophy with his 1951 Ford rag-top custom. It’s a radical custom created in 1975 by Bobby Simpson, featuring a four-inch section to the body, the windscreen raked back two-and-a-half inches, a chopped convertible top and a Chevy 350 engine.

“It’s custom from one end to the other,” said Larsen. He was standing by his blue-and-white custom, which was wrapped in gleaming period chrome, a cat that has been featured in Hot Rod and other car mags.

Asked why he likes to attend car shows—including the Nationals in Syracuse, where the customized Ford picked up Designer’s Dozen recognition in 2021 and 2022—Larsen replied, “I just like the camaraderie with the people, seeing the different cars, and it’s something that takes the stress away from you… It’s very, very enjoyable.”

Tom Flynn of Parksville was on hand to show off his restored 1937 Packard 120 roadster. After the judges ruled, it picked up two trophies: the best antique car pre-1939 and the People’s Choice award.

“We love this show,” he said, explaining that it’s his fifth time at the town car show. He added that after purchasing the vintage car, “We did a lot of work on the mechanicals… It’s fun to drive, and basically [is] a sports car from 1937.”

As for attending car shows, Flynn said, “I love learning about my car from other people, sharing the car and just seeing the different cars, how much people enjoy them… It was a great day out.”
A couple of folks next to his Packard labored to fire up an old Indian motorcycle in the back of a vintage pickup truck.

“It brings you back in time,” Flynn added about attending car shows. “Folks who are a little older, they light up, because they remember driving these cars.”

Don and Caroline Harrow of Livingston Manor showed up with her cruiser, a 1966 Ford Mustang convertible, and his 1967 Chevy Corvette 327/350. The latter took the Jim Fullerton Memorial as the show’s top Vette.

Don recalled getting into a bidding war for the Corvette with a dealer, but the woman sold it to him after he promised to restore the car and send her a picture of it posed near the gravestone of her late husband. The husband was portrayed on the memorial marker standing next to his cherished car. And Harrow later fulfilled that promise.

In addition to the two classics they brought to the local car show, they take pride in a 1961 Corvette fuelie convertible, a 1972 Vette he bought three days after leaving the U.S. Army, and a 2019 Vette convertible.

That one was stopped by a Navaho Tribal cop while they were completing the upper half of the run on fabled Route 66—not because of speeding, but because the policeman was intrigued by what a car with New York plates was doing on an Indian Reservation.

Sort of like that magazine ad from the mid-1960s, where the driver of a Shelby Cobra 289 gets pulled over so the state trooper can admire the now much-desired classic.

“You see people who remember when they owned that kind of car, and enjoy looking at them,” said Caroline Harrow of the allure of going to car shows. “We’ve met a lot of really nice people, and it’s a lot of fun… This is a great car show, and it’s for a great purpose. We come every year.”
The proceeds of the show go toward purchasing playground equipment for the park and for maintenance.

Don Harrow, who serves as a judge with the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), was dressed in a shirt covered with images of Corvettes through the decades.

He talked about a memorable experience he once had in earlier days, after selling an oil-burning 1962 Chevy Impala rag top.

“The next thing, the cops were over at the house and asking me about the car,” he recalled. “Unbeknownst to me, he and his grandson had robbed a bank, and the engine blew. I had a little explaining to do, and my mother was really relieved that I had nothing to do with a bank robbery.”

Bill Conklin calls Callicoon Center home, and while checking out the car show, said, “I just like to see the old cars, you know, especially the old Chevys. You get out in the fresh air, meet people and get to see the cars.”

“I grew up in this area. The ’57s, ‘56s, the '55 Chevys. We all had ‘em when we were young, but then we got newer ones; I wished we’d kept ‘em.”

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