Photos by Stacy Harrison
MANCHESTER, NH – Classic cars weren’t the only thing retro on a sunny and perfect Elm Street Saturday. Two bands belted out the Stones, the Beatles and “…two riders were approaching” from Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower, thanks to Rearview Mirror, one of the groups.
Classic cars are about colors, what’s under the hood, whitewalls, stick shifts, weekends, fuzzy dice and Vroom! The owners are classic too, for what they’re showing off is a slice of the past with dazzle and diesel. A slice of their past. Electric is coming, but that should only drive up the prices of these carburetor cowboys of the past.
There was the 1941 Canary yellow Chevy panel truck with Mr. Natural and his tagline “Keep on Truckin’” on the side. There was the Kool Bus, also a classic orange/yellow reminding kids to “Be Kool, Stay in School,” though it was easy to envision Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters all aboard on the school bus for their 1965 legendary drug-induced road trip from San Francisco to the New York World’s Fair. Stay away from this ride kids. Timothy Leary’s dead.
Fuzzy dice? On a cherry red ’57 T-Bird, of course. Here’s the Rearview Mirror again: “…and the wind begins to howl.”
Kevin Reeves priced his ’56 Ford Fairlane Sunliner at $65,000 but like most owners, he wasn’t looking to sell. The color was classic Good Humor ice cream truck creamsicle. Talk about endless summer. Ditto for an original ’69 VW bug with surfboard and rack on the roof.
Rick Souza showed off his Canyon Coral-colored ’57 Bel Air.
“That was one of only 15 colors of the originals,” Souza explained. “Everything is rebuilt from the original.”
Souza does 50 car shows a year and nostalgia plays heavy in his game. “I had an identical car that I sold in 1973 and always wanted to get another.”
The four-barrel 283-horsepower engine with a Massachusetts “X” license plate spoke pizzazz. “They call me X-Man,” Souza said.
Welcome to Elm Street on a September Saturday, where on-the-road dreams can come true.
“Yeah, I’ll have a car someday, and yeah I like the show,” 10-year-old Tylee from Bedford said while walking the strip with her Mom. “My favorite is the one with the skeletons.”
This 1989 black Honda CRX was easy to spot. Part Grateful Dead, part Alice Cooper, part Twisted Sister and all raised engine block above the hood.
Brian Lawrence showed off his ’31 Ford Model A. While the original was in any color as long as it was black, this one had black fenders with the rest of the body colored a stunning Washington Blue. With colors like these, it’s easy to see how Martha Stewart paint colors couldn’t compete. The Model A was all-original four-cylinder.
Also like many owners, Lawrence said he drove his classic only on the weekends, though his wife rolled her eyes and reminded him they drive it once a week when going out for dinner.
George Martin gave a tour of his ’67 Ford Mustang, a true American beauty.
“The car was abandoned in a body shop and when I bought it the owner gave the shop owner a slice of the $3,400,” Martin said. “I’m thinking he was just paying off a debt. I found it through Vermont’s Hemmings Motor News,” the print publication source for all things antique auto.
This racy car, which earned first in stock class at a recent show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, even had the original owner’s manual sitting atop the roomy console.
“It’s all about detail,” Martin added. “You want to do it right.”
Like so many of the automobiles on display yesterday, rebuilding is fine, but give me the original parts interior, exterior, under the hood, and behind the wheel.
The color of Martin’s car is Clearwater Aqua. That’s just plain cool.
“I get that all the time,” Martin said when reminded that George Martin produced the Beatles.
Martin estimates his Mustang is worth $85,000 but perhaps We Can Work It Out as a loaner.
The missus will be impressed. Now I just need the money to take her out to dinner.
The annual Crusing Downtown classic car show celebrated its 21st year in 2022. The event is organized by the Manchester Rotary Club. All proceeds generated go to support local youth programs and services such as Easter Seals, the Boys & Girls Club, Waypoint, Camp Allen, the Manchester CommunityMusic School, the Palace Theatre and Families in Transition.