AMESBURY — From Corvettes to Cougars and Thunderbirds to Model T’s, Market Square and portions of the Upper Millyard were transformed into a rolling museum yesterday at the Amesbury Days car show displaying 100 years of automotive history.
Dozens of cars filled every available parking spot in Market Square, just before the rotary, and made its way up to the Main Street-Friend Street split. More cars were found past the archway into the Upper Millyard and up past Flatbread Pizza Co.
There were cars for all tastes yesterday: muscle cars, foreign beauties, rusty farm trucks, long Cadillacs with outrageous fins, low riders and cars with chopped roofs. Thousands of people mulled around the square, many taking photos of their favorite cars, from the show’s 10 a.m. start to 2 p.m.
All the attention was great news for car show co-organizer Bob Holmes of Ring Reckers. Formed in 1955, the old car club has organized many car shows including a similar one held just after last year’s Amesbury Days celebration at Landry Memorial Stadium. Holmes said shortly after last year’s show, it was felt by club organizers that the event would attract more car owners and visitors if it were held in a more visible location. That prompted lengthy negotiations with city officials who agreed to shut off the heart of downtown with the idea the event would be a part of Amesbury Days.
Their idea turned out to be right on the money as Holmes said this year’s event drew a larger crowd and more participants. As to how may cars took part, Holmes said he wasn’t sure.
“A lot!” he said.
As visitors checked out the large collection of antique cars, music from a different era could be heard from blaring radios inside cars and from a musician playing hits from the ’50s and ’60s inside the Upper Millyard. Vendors selling toy cars, hot dogs, pizza and other items were also part of the fun.
Anecdotally, Holmes said the event drew more car owners than pavement space, so he is already hoping that he can secure even more of downtown Amesbury to close off and show off more cars.
Showing off their cars to other old car aficionados is one of the major motivations for the long, slow rides that car owners as far away as Maine took to make it in time.
One car owner with a relatively short drive was David Twombley of Byfield, the owner of a 1969 E Type Jaguar. The sedan features a 4.3-liter engine and a glossy, regency red paint job.
“It seems to bring out a lot of interest,” Twombley said. “Everybody wants to see the engine.”
Twombley said he drives his Jaguar about 10 times a year, mostly to attend other car shows. Asked whether owners of muscle cars, sports cars and other cars designed to race down highways actually go fast when driving on the highway, Twombley said most times owners take it slow.
“People are just trying to get there,” Twombley said.
Holmes said the car show gives people a chance to see cars made with a different mindset. Fuel economy and aerodynamics weren’t as crucial. Older cars were made with more steel, larger engines and more leg room.
“They’re not built right,” Holmes said of newer cars. “They’re plastic, they don’t have the nice lines.”