2009-09-03 / Front Page

Local car buffs gear up for island show this Sunday

By Phil Zahodiakin

Head out to the Seaside Family Cruise at Ft. Getty this Sunday, where you’ll see classic and custom cars like this one. Head out to the Seaside Family Cruise at Ft. Getty this Sunday, where you’ll see classic and custom cars like this one. Whether you call them car buffs, enthusiasts or “gearheads,” Jamestowners who own classic cars are unanimous in their praise of the 10th annual Jamestown Seaside Family Cruise on tap this weekend at Ft. Getty.

The show is more relaxed than events like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – where judges deduct points if dirt shows up on their white gloves. In fact, the only thing the Jamestown Cruise shares with the “foofy” event in California is saltwater views.

A “foofy” car show is dominated by “trailer queens” – cars delivered to the show on a truck bed – and “you don’t even bother bringing your car to a show like that if it isn’t put together really well,” said George Warner, who owns a 1951 Ford pickup truck. “I don’t have anything against ‘trailer queens’ because people who put a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears – and money – into their cars know all too well that all you need is one stone chip in your paint and it’s all over.”

Warner, vice president of the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association, wasn’t specifically looking for a ‘51 Ford pickup. He simply “happened upon it” and has restored it almost completely over the years.

The truck “wasn’t restored as a show vehicle. It was restored to be usable and it is a driver – if not exactly a daily driver,” he said. “I bring it to shows, but that’s only because I enjoy seeing other vehicles. I’ve brought it to the Jamestown show eight times, and they do a fantastic job. You can bring a show car, or a car you’ve just started restoring. Nobody looks down at the doit yourselfers, and no one looks at a professional restoration and says, ‘The reason that car looks so good is because the guy had a ton of money to do it.’ Everyone is on an equal plane.”

Although he has “some tinkering” to do this week, Warner plans to bring his truck to the show.

Another Jamestowner who hopes to show his vehicle is John Chadwick, who has restored a 1972 Duster 340. Chadwick said his plans for this year’s show are a little “iffy” because he hasn’t finished the engine work he put off during the recent weeks of “brutal heat and humidity.” However, he said, “If the weather cooperates and time permitting [for engine work], I will be there. It’s the perfect venue for a car show – up on that hill looking down at the water.”

Chadwick, who had been a “Chevy guy” until he started working for America Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Westerly, has added some grunt to what was already a potent muscle car. “When I purchased it, the engine was supposedly rebuilt, but it wasn’t well done, unfortunately, so I had to pull off the heads to replace the valve seals, and I did a few things to upgrade the engine [such as installing a high performance cam shaft],” he said. “I’ve also put on performance muffl ers, a [high performance] exhaust system and I’ve done some upgrades to the suspension.”

The Duster is lime-green with a factory black hood and stripes – and, sadly, a gash in one of the front fenders.

“I was storing it in a Quonset hut that I couldn’t stake down properly because the ground was frozen solid, and a significant wind storm picked up the hut and slammed it into the side of the car,” Chadwick said. “The car had only been out of the paint booth for eight weeks, and I haven’t had the damage repaired yet. But, if it’s shown, it will be shown with the damage. At the Jamestown show, you see cars in all states and conditions – including cars with only primer for paint. It’s quite an eclectic group of cars.”

Another Jamestowner with a lime-green, black-hooded Mopar muscle car is Dave Quattromani, who owns a 1970 Dodge Challenger. Quattromani has brought the car to the Jamestown show once before, but, as an officer in the Northeast Hemi Owners Association – which also meets this weekend – he is obliged to attend his club meeting in upstate New York. Were it not for the conflict, however, “I would absolutely go,” Quattromani said. “It’s in my ‘back yard,’ and it’s a beautiful, very social event.”

Art Washburn, who owns Art’s Auto Body and sets up the event with the help of his wife and the guys at the shop, agrees that his show is particularly “people friendly” – and that’s because of “the way the show is done,” he said.

“You don’t have to be by your car all the time,” he said. “You can go find your friends and talk with them. Or, if you come in with your friends, we try to let all of you park together.”

Although Washburn isn’t sure which of his personal vehicles he might bring to the show, he has several custom cars to pick from. There’s his 1927 Model “T” hot rod. There’s his 1989 Pontiac Trans Am with a turbocharger and – just to snap your neck all the way into the headrest – nitrous oxide injection. Then there’s his 1990 Nissan custom convertible pickup truck, which won a trophy as the nation’s best in the “mini truck” category at the All Truck Nationals in Carlisle, Pa.

Other trophies fill every inch of space on the floor-to-ceiling shelves in a room adjoining the office at his shop. In fact, those trophies demonstrate as much as any of his cars that Washburn is truly a car guy.

He is also a car guy who welcomes all other “rides” at his show.

“We have anything and everything show up,” he said. “We’ve had a really old 1912 vehicle, an ice cream truck, a fire truck and one of the racecars that runs in the Mexican Baja race. It belongs to a friend of mine in Middletown, and that’s the only car I remember coming in on a tractor-trailer. Otherwise, I discourage the ‘trailer queen’ cars.”

Washburn also discourages entrants from spending too much time cleaning their cars before the show.

“It’s not as if we have judges wandering around saying, ‘Hey, this car is a lot nicer than that one.’ This is a laid-back event, and that’s the way we like it,” he said.

Seaside Cruise welcomes all on Sunday

The Seaside Family Cruise will be held Sunday, Sept. 6, from 9:30 to 3 p.m. at Ft. Getty. Admission is free for spectators and $15 for entrants. Show vehicles must register by 1 p.m. Food will be available and DJ Cruisin’ Bruce Palmer will be on hand to spin oldies.

Last year’s show drew 184 entrants and Washburn expects a “full house” again this year.

Call 423-1897 for more information.

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