ROCKVILLE – In addition to various fall festivals and Halloween attractions, there is another seasonal event that draws many area residents: the Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show.
Sponsored by the mayor and City Council and held every year on the grounds of the Fitzgerald Civic Center, hundreds of car owners and members of various car clubs are invited to display their vehicles to fellow auto enthusiasts.
The catalogue invariably includes a wide variety of car makes, models, and model years.
Organizers said due to excellent weather on Saturday, this year’s festival attracted an estimated 14,000 people, a sizable increase from previous years.
“The car show, which began in 1962, is one of our oldest and most consistently celebrated events,” said Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton. “It’s an incredible opportunity to see so many well-maintained vintage cars in one place, and an opportunity for those of us who don’t know a lot about cars to learn about them.”
Newton presented the Mayor and Council Award for the most iconic car to Steven Schuh, owner of a 1963 Jaguar E-type.
Members of 32 different car clubs, in addition to individual, unaffiliated owners, displayed vehicles on Saturday’s show.
Bill Donnelly, a member of the National Capital Region Mustang Club, displayed his 1966 Mustang, which he has extensively remodeled, including changing the paint job and installing a new engine.
“I always liked Mustangs when I was a kid, and so I bought this one at a car show in Frederick some years ago,” Donnelly said. “They’re unique and iconic cars, maybe not as much as the Corvette, but still very nice.”
Donnelly has attended at the show for many years.
“I love the variety of this show, you get to see so many cars that you don’t see any place else,” Donnelly said.
Gildo Torchio, a former mechanic for Fiat in his native Italy, proudly displayed his 1973 Fiat Abarth.
“They only made 1,033 of this model, and there are only two or three in the country,” Torchio said.
A member of the National Capital Fiat Club, Torchio became a regular attendee of the auto show eight years ago.
“The location and the people are very nice,” Torchio said.
Joe and Betty Swann displayed their 1912 right hand drive VMF, one of the last models produced by VMF, an independent, Detroit-based auto manufacturer which operated from 1908 to 1912.
Last year, the Swanns, who live in York, Pa., took the car on a four-month driving tour across the country.
As the car’s top speed is roughly 35 miles per hour, they were obliged to stay on backroads and drove more than 10,000 miles.
“We had one flat tire and that was about 500 miles from home,” Betty said. “We had been through the Natchez Trace in Mississippi and stopped to get something at an arts and crafts place and we bought two people-sized copper frogs, a boy frog and a girl frog, who were our passengers in the back seat. When we had a flat tire, they had to be moved out by the side of the road, and we got many a look.”
The Swanns handed out information on VMF and the early American auto industry.
Attending the show has been a lifelong annual tradition for Hannah Haberkamp, a Northwest Washington, D.C. resident who grew up in Rockville.
“The car show is always around my birthday,” Haberkamp said. “I love going because the leaves have started to change but the weather tends to be nice. It makes seeing all of those beautiful cars spread about the lawn of the Glenview Mansion quite the sight to behold.”
She said she kept an eye out for a Hudson because her southern California-based grandparents drove one.
Finding one did not disappoint her.
“The owners, a super cute older couple, were easy to talk with and their love for their baby was evident in how well maintained it was. I’m also a huge fan of the Buick Eights and I was happy when I stumbled upon a gorgeous 1940s model,” said Haberkamp.
“We live close by, so this was a great chance for a fun family event to show our kids what cars were and how they’ve evolved,” said Eve Cerno of Rockville
Cerno particularly enjoyed seeing a 1985 Ferrari 308.
“I was a big Magnum P.I. fan,” Cerno said.