Classic-car shows are not just a southern New Jersey Italian thing. With their saved old cars and barn finds, the Germans, Welsh, Irish, and Slavs in upstate Pennsylvania put on some fantastic ones. Das Awkscht Fescht is a spectacular summer show at Macungie Memorial Park in Macungie, east-central Pennsylvania (Allentown area). (If you're like me you needed to look up Awkscht; the name is archaic/Pennsylvania German for "The August Festival.") A giant field full of classics including my golden-era favorites. A car flea market too. Arguably the best show I've been to so far as it had the most near-Christines, a '57 Plymouth Fury and three '58s, a baby Plymouth Savoy (a sedan like, oops, the book car), a Fury, and a Belvedere. (Makes up for missing the Mopar fest in Carlisle, three hours from home.) Those and other sexy Mopars from the same period.
If you didn't see the Fury logo on the tailfins or look under the hood (dual quad carbs so two elliptical air cleaners, as in the movie), you can spot the Furys because the Fury's speedo goes to 150 as opposed to 120. This was a high-performance sub-model of the Belvy (same body), in '57 and '58 only in buckskin beige with gold trim. Christine in Belvy colors was either a special-ordered Fury (as in the book) or an early engine swap. Because a scary red car that's a Fury is perfect; "Belvedere" just doesn't work. And of course your car must have the strongest engine.
Next to the Belvy a man and I started trading lines from the movie. The story's moral, kids, is be sure to retrofit your beautiful killer car with seat belts so you and she will motorvate and avenge forever.
The featured car this year was the Chrysler 300. Or as I know it ('57 or '58), Mike Torello's private car.
"Crime Story": David Abrams' and Frank Holman's Studebaker Hawk and Torello's cop car, the '59 Ford.
Other period Mopars:
'49-'51 Mercurys, then the last word in new postwar design, art-deco-ey streamlining, rendered cooler with rear fender skirts. Close to the ground but not trashy low-rider. (People love them partly because of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause; I'm not a fan of that.) But soon the public, enamored with jets and rockets, would compare these beauties unfavorably to bathtubs. Still a schlock-rod fave, though: chopped Mercs and lead sleds.
Cars from around the war (either right before or for a few years afterwards; production stopped during the war, of course):
Vespa. Let's just say in Europe the '50s were different.
While a field full of old cars is great, I was too slow to photograph the real magic: golden-era cars on the roads around Macungie, buildings old enough so that it appears you have stepped back in time. (A new postwar neighborhood with a '58 Chrysler 300 rolling through, for example.) Why Wildwood (space-age motels time left behind) wins as the best regional show. Vineland's second.
I like it up here.
50 years ago I would have been something like the assistant editor of the Reading Eagle or the Shamokin Republican, with the rumble of the printing presses shaking the building.
Down the road from the park, the historic Buckeye Tavern recently burned up.
Amidst much older architecture, some remaining space-age finery in Allentown, run-down like in Billy Joel's song. The economic end of the old Middle America (defeated in 1973; I remember the shift in the culture) was punctuated here by nearby Bethlehem Steel going out of business, once as inconceivable locally as the fall of the United States; hence the song.