When Marty DeGrazia first showed his 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible at the Greenwood Car Show in 1993, he didn't expect it to be a big hit.
"It was a total fixer-upper that I'd paid $8,000 for in 1990; bought it from a guy up on Whidbey Island," he says. "It took second in its class in the first show it was entered. I was almost in tears. It beat out a Cadillac convertible worth $100,000."
- Greenwood Car Show:
June 26, Seattle; greenwoodcarshow.com
- Mustang Club of America Grand National Show: July 15-18, Bellevue; mustangsnorthwest.com
- Western Washington All British Field Meet: July 24, Bellevue; abfm.com
- LeMay Car Show & Auction:
Aug. 28, Spanaway; lemaymuseum.org
- Kirkland Concours d'Elegance:
Sept. 12, Kirkland; kirklandconcours.com
- XXX Root Beer shows:
Every weekend, Issaquah; triplexrootbeer.com
- Note: The popular Mild-to-Wild Hot Rods and Rides show, usually held in April in Tacoma, has been canceled this year.
The car has been in every Greenwood show since.
Spring marks the return of car-show season, and for many who show and attend, the shows offer a chance to remember a different time, when the world was a simpler place, says Brian Canfield. He's the director of the Greenwood Car Show, held each June in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood.
The car show "allows different people to connect to things on a different level than they would in everyday life," Canfield says. "Oftentimes, people think it's only about guys and horsepower. But I've found that women really get excited when they see a car that they had a first date in, or a car their father or grandfather owned."
The Greenwood show draws about 650 participants and 50,000-60,000 spectators to the neighborhood. Last year, it featured cars ranging in age from a 1909 Stanley Steamer to current Dodge Challengers and Ford Mustangs.
"This is their moment. They get to be in the spotlight," Canfield says. "Many people have dedicated years of their life and money to restore these cars. This is their chance to show and explain their cars."
Where a car show is held can also boost feelings of nostalgia. XXX Rootbeer, in Issaquah, hosts car shows thrown by various clubs almost every Sunday in the spring and summer. The restaurant itself, from its food to decoration, is a throwback to 1950s automotive fan culture.
In late March, the Northwest Volkswagen Club held its first show of the season at XXX, featuring 200 cars that ranged from vintage VW microbuses to new VW R32 Golfs.
Zach Yeager, who drove a 1972 VW panel bus to the show, says the primary activity at car shows "is just hanging out with others who have similar interests as you. While you can exchange technical information, that's not the primary focus."
DeGrazia agrees that the sense of community is more important than the trophies or maintenance tips.
"Don't worry about your car being perfect," he says. "People always seem to say, 'I'd never show my car; it's not in good shape.' But people like to see cars in all kinds of condition."