1A Auto held it’s annual car show on September 9, 2018. Even though the skies were grey, 165 people brought their cars to show. You could see everything from cleaned up classics, to complete customs, imports, and rat rods. It was an awesome show. I was lucky enough to talk to many of the owners of this interesting pieces. Here are some of my personal favorites. They may not necessarily be the rarest or most valuable, just the ones that piqued my admittedly idiosyncratic tastes.
1972 Chevy Corvette Stingray
Tom brought this 1972 ‘Vette that he ordered new. He said that being thrifty, he missed checking a few option boxes. Still, he got the 350 and a 4 speed, so I’m sure it’s plenty of fun to drive. He’s put about 77,000 miles on it. Not bad. Tom was sporting a ‘Vettes to Vets ballcap, representing a Corvette show that raises money for the Bedford VA hospital.
There were a few Corvettes at the show this year, but Tony Derouin’s was in exceptionally good condition. On that cloudy day, you could actually see your reflection in his ‘Vette’s black paint. Tony said that he’s actually lost points in car show judging because the paint was too nice. What can you do? Too-nice paint couldn’t stop Tony from taking best in show at the 1A Car Show.
Tony’s loved ’62s since he was a kid, when his uncle got him a model of one. He had another ’62, which sadly got totaled in an accident. Tony’s had his current ‘Vette for about a year. In that time, it’s had a full nut-and-bolt restoration, and it still has its original 327 motor.
1986 GMC Caballero
This Caballero shows off a different side of GM’s classic line up. If you’re not familiar with the Caballero (I wasn’t), it’s GMC’s answer to the El Camino, built on the same assembly line. Whatever badge is on it, pick-up cars are always cool. Mr. Peavey restored the Caballero as a tribute to his late brother. His brother was a carpenter who used the Caballero for his business. Peavey worked on it from 2004 to 2015, and now drives it occasionally and takes it to car shows. As you can see from the pictures, Peavey keeps it in beautiful condition. He’s put about 12,000 miles on it since the restoration, and says he loves driving it.
1988 Pontiac Fiero
A yellow Fiero is hard to pass by. At least that’s what Andrew and Lisa V. found. Lisa fell in love with Fieros in ’83 or ’84 when she first saw them heading to dealers on delivery trucks. Over time the couple have had 9 different Fieros and became “students of the cars.” When Andrew approached Lisa about the 1988 Formula model, she was apprehensive, but then he said those magic words: “but honey, it’s yellow.” Yellow, you see, is her favorite color. In addition to the cool color (which was only available in 1988), this car came with better brakes and suspension than previous years. You won’t be surprised to hear that Lisa and Andrew are founding members of the New England Fiero Association.
Chevy Corvair “Gasser”
Rather than going the restoration route, Frank Sapowsky made this Corvair into something truly one-of-a-kind. He built it in the style of ’60s “gasser” or stock-looking drag racer. Frank doesn’t drag race this custom though. He likes to take it on long drives to destination car shows. Thanks for joining us in Pepperell, Frank.
Instead of a flat engine out back, this Corvair has a Buick 455 engine up front. Frank called the Buick engine “the forgotten big block.” The whole project took Frank about 3 years. He gutted the cab, built a tubing frame, reconstructed the floor plan, and installed new axles. Frank pointed out that when you go in on that kind of custom project, you have to drill a hole for every bolt. He recommends stocking up on cheap drill bits before hand. You’ll probably go through a few.
1988 Jeep Comanche
The iconic Jeep grille is about the only thing that helped me identify what this machine started out its life as. According to owner Tim Harrington, all that’s left from the original is the firewall, the dash, most of the frame, and the 4.0 engine. He custom-built the suspension and roll cage himself for off-roading, which he’s been doing since 2010 as part of New England Jeepz. The whole project is pretty impressive, but this Dasani power steering overflow bottle caught my eye. Does 1A have new competition in the coolant reservoir market? One of Tim’s friends was using an Aquafina bottle, and Tim just had to one-up him.
T-Buckets are a classic hot rod design and they’re always cool. It’s basically a small seat, a big engine, and some fat tires. What else do you need? Tom Burton bought this one (equipped with a Ford 454 V8) from a customer builder in Merrimack. He mostly takes it out for cruise nights, or the occasional trip for ice cream.
1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
It wasn’t all American machinery at the car show. There were plenty of imports, too. Particularly there was a good showing from The Bug Club, a New Hampshire Volkswagen club. Ron Colosi brought out this nice Karmann Ghia. Ron’s first car was a ’61 Beetle. He’s also had VW Buses and other Ghias. Ron likes that VWs are simple to work with. He got this Ghia about a month before the show. He had to do an engine tune, replace the brakes, and check the front end to get it “seaworthy,” but now, he says, it’s “a good driver.”
1969 EMPI Sportster
When I saw this thing, I had to find out what it is. Then Jim Schunemann told me it was an EMPI Sportster. Then I had to find out what an EMPI Sportster is. EMPI sells parts and accessories for classic VWs, but back in the day, they also sold a kit to build these custom vehicles off the Beetle floor pan. Schunneman’s, for example, was built off a 1961 Beetle. Schunneman picked it up in 1990. Since then, he added a pickup bed and suitcase storage in the boot. He takes the EMPI to car shows as far as Canada and Governor’s Island, New York. According to Jim, the car not only looks cool, but is comfortable to ride in and is “quick when she wants to be.”
See You Next Year!
That’s just a small sample of the machinery we had at the 1A Auto Charity Car Show this year. Of course, all the cars at the show were pretty cool and we thank everyone who came out. If you weren’t there, don’t worry, we’ll be doing it again next year. Keep following us to find out when!