WILDWOOD — There’s no such thing as a quick trip in Rich Kirk’s 1930 Model A Ford.

When the restored car rolls into a parking lot, it always draws attention.

“Oh, people love (classic cars). One of the old guys is always coming up to talk about them. When you pull in, you better be ready for a conversation,” Kirk said as he and his wife, Sue, stood beside the restored roadster.

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This weekend there will be plenty of talk of engines, instrument panels, chassies and paint jobs as hundreds of classic cars, in this case cars made at least 10 years ago, come to town for the Spring Boardwalk Classic Car Show.

The Kirks, both former teachers from Oreland, Pa., say it is those conversations between car enthusiast that make the car show special.

“We come to enjoy the cars. There’s a lot of comradery. It’s just a fun hobby,” he said.

When he bought the Ford it didn’t have a hood and needed plenty of other work. “Over the years, I bet 15 grand went into this,” Rich Kirk said.

But Sue Kirk said the joy that comes from working on the cars is the reward.

“Rich isn’t in it to win prizes,” she said. “He just has fun.”

Others in town for the weekend didn’t bring fancy cars, but instead simply have a love for the craftsmanship behind them.

“I like to hear them,” explained Dan Paolantonio, who came to the Wildwoods with his wife, Joan, from Dumont in north Jersey. “The sound of the motor, the exhaust.”

The couple aren’t car collectors, but their son is a fan. They’ll take pictures and when they get home, “he’ll quiz us about every detail.”

“You hear them talking. It’s like an extended family,” he said of the car collectors who will display their work on the North Wildwood and Wildwood Boardwalk from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Organizer Gary McGhee said the car show, somewhat smaller than the city’s annual fall show, is like the kickoff to summer for the car fans.

Classic cars from New Jersey as well as many other states including Virginia, Maryland and Rhode Island will be taking part in the show.

Two professional judges will then choose the top 40, and the top 40 will then be displayed in front of the Wildwoods Convention Center on Saturday. Owners of those cars will then cast votes for the best in show.

The winner will take home a 5 foot tall trophy, $300 and bragging rights.

McGhee said the cars are a unifier, something everyone can relate to.

“The cars are the common denominator,” he said. “People come up and start talking about the history of their cars.”

On Thursday, participants continued to arrive and check-in at the registration tables placed at the Imperial 500 Motel.

Bob Harshaw, of West Chester, Pa., came in his 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass.

The car has required some work such as a new seat cover and other repairs, but it’s “pretty well original.”

“I put in about ... a lot of hours,” said Harshaw, a mechanic by trade.

J.J. Hares, of Millville, estimated he worked six hours a day every day for two years to restore his 1948 Ford Pickup truck.

The aqua blue truck, complete with a decorative fake skeleton in the original wooden bed, is hard to miss.

“I made the mistake of falling in love with it and just kept going,” he said as he told the story behind the work.

The front hood is fiberglass, but the rest is the original steel.

It’s not his ever-day car, “but if it’s not snowing we’ll take it out.”

Why put so much effort into a car?

Hares said the answer comes from just looking at the car.

“It’s the self-gratification. You start on something and you finish it and step back and say I did that,” he said.

Hares’ Ford truck, Harshaw’s Oldsmobile and Kirk’s Ford will be on display this weekend with about 300 other classic cars.

Contact Trudi Gilfillian:



Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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