Americans + cars = love at Marion car show

August 04, 2003|by DON AINES

MARION, Pa. - Americans love their cars, but the affair between one driver and one automobile rarely lasts a lifetime.

There were more than a few such people among the more than 100 motorists who drove their gleaming time machines to the seventh annual Marion Volunteer Fire Co. Classic Car and Truck Show Sunday.

From a 1927 Ford roadster to cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles just a few years or months off the assembly lines, the show attracted auto enthusiasts from the Tri-State area to the Marion Festival Grounds to compete in 16 categories.

Everyone can remember their first car, but few are still driving them after three or four decades, like Nevin M. Shank II of Hagerstown.


"I ordered it right out of high school," Shank said of his 1967 Chevelle SS. He was too young to buy it himself, so his mother's name is on the sales sheet, which stated the car went for $3,597.

"I've run that thing hard ever since I pulled out of the showroom," Shank said.

Shank said it was his everyday set of wheels until he got married. After that, it spent some time "covered up."

"I told my wife this thing is never leaving me," Shank said.

The white Super Sport with the 396-cubic-inch engine under the hood had just 54,807 miles on it by the time it rolled into Marion Sunday morning.

Except for the carpet, Shank said everything in the car was original. There were enough Chevelles at the show to warrant their own category, with Shank's taking third place.

Parked next to Shank was the 1970 Chevelle SS of Timothy W. Thompson of Hagerstown.

"This was my graduation present," Thompson said. He bought it second-hand from a woman in Frederick, Md., in May 1971, he said.

A crucifix necklace belonging to an old girlfriend has been hanging from the rearview mirror since 1972, he said. The in-dash 8-track tape player had a Three Dog Night album cued up.

"I've got 20 cars. My cars live better than some people do," Thompson said. He listed a 1937 Rolls Royce, 1931 and 1932 Essexes and a 1978 Corvette with 92 miles on the odometer as among the favorites in his collection.

The Best of Show trophy went to Gene Hershey of Shippensburg, Pa., for a 1959 Chevy Impala he actually owned twice.

"I owned it from 1962 to 1965," Hershey said. "The next owner was killed in the Vietnam War."

He said the car "basically sat for 34 years" before he purchased it in September 1998.

"I restored it to the condition of the first time we owned it," Hershey said.

Red and white with prominent fins and trimmed with loads of chrome, the Impala's original 348-cubic-inch engine had just 89,000 miles on it, he said.

"Corvettes and classics are your tough ones," said Frank Suders, a fire company member and judge for six of the show's seven years. The things he looks for are "cleanliness, how original it is. The undercarriage, if it comes to that."

Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Houpt said the money raised by entry fees, raffles, food sales and other attractions goes into the company's general fund for equipment purchases, building maintenance and other expenses. He estimated the show would gross more than $3,000.

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