The South Jersey Transportation Authority continued its celebration of the Atlantic City Expressway’s 50th anniversary Friday with a tree planting and classic car show at the Frank S. ‘Hap’ Farley Service Plaza in Hamilton Township.
The car show began at 10 a.m. and continued through an award ceremony at about 3 p.m. Awards were given out in 15 categories, such as Most Exotic and Best Muscle Car. Trophies included core samples from 15 expressway exits.
At 11 a.m., SJTA workers planted the fifth of five cherry blossom trees meant to symbolize the five decades the highway has been in service. The highway was connected to the Garden State Parkway in July 1964 and a year later was extended to Atlantic City.
Friday’s event was the second in a series the SJTA is running to celebrate the 50th anniversary, spokesperson Sharon Gordon said. In January it hung a restored portrait of Farley, an Expressway proponent, at the plaza. The SJTA has also undertaken an economic impact study to determine the highway’s effects on commerce in the area and will hold a larger anniversary celebration on July 31, 50 years to the day after the expressway’s opening.
More than three dozen classic cars, from exotics to hotrods, were lined up on the southern side of the plaza by noon. The trees were planted in celebration of Arbor Day, which was Friday.
Egg Harbor Township residents Nick and Jan Silverio showed off their restored 1970 Buick Skylark. The car was sitting in a field when the couple purchased it in 2000, Nick Silverio said, and they’ve spent the last 14 years restoring it to show quality.
The couple rarely gets to exhibit, Nick Silverio said, as the car is a daily driver rather than a pampered “trailer queen” such as those usually on display. Even then, he gets more of a kick out of seeing other cars than showing off his own.
“I never saw a car I didn’t like, but there are some really nice ones,” he said. “The Lamborghini interested me. And some of the older cars, the real old cars, I like them.”
Several members of the British Motor Sports Car Club of South Jersey attended the show, among them Linwood resident Jim Rago. His blazer, bowtie and scarf made for a fitting outfit as he stood beside his 1965 Austin Healey Sprite sports car.
He said the group usually goes to 10 or so shows a year, and while the one at the Expressway wasn’t as big as some, it was still a good time.
“The vintage, historic people, we’re all about the same,” Rago said. “I’ve been to shows with people that have $100,000 cars, and you’re talking to them like there’s nothing to it. It’s good.”
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