I’ve seen the Antique Automobile Club of America’s (AACA) Hershey Fall Meet described as the largest automotive flea market in the world. And this is why, finding myself within striking distance of it, I decided to attend and see what it is all about.
The meet takes place in early October every year. It’s a 3 day event, Thursday through Saturday. The first couple of days are dedicated to transactions: there is a huge parts flea market, a car corral full of cars to buy, and an RM auction. The final day is mostly dedicated to a car show.
I arrived in Hershey Friday mid-afternoon. Figuring the chances of finding anything for my own cars at the flea market were slim to none, I dedicated myself to the car corral on Friday and to the car show on Saturday. My first impression was that Hershey Park is a huge venue, and it is utilized to the fullest. It is so large you really need to attend all 3 days if you want to see everything.
Strolling through the car corral I saw a huge variety of cars. Mostly American but from all eras, from Model Ts to C4 Corvettes and everything in between. A few European cars as well. Porsches, MGs, Jaguars. But very few Japanese ones.
Another thing that struck was how the attendants skewed older. Which makes sense. You need some disposable income to be able to afford a hobby like this. And almost everything there was quite original. Younger folks might prefer modified cars.
Saturday started out wet, which is typical of October in Pennsylvania. I arrived at Hershey park as the last cars were entering the show grounds. Inside, owners were busy wiping their cars down in preparation for judging. Fortunately the rain eventually stopped, making for a much better experience for everyone involved.
I had never seen so many pre-war cars together. Marques I never knew existed. I always consider it worth to attend a meet if I see at least one car I’ve never seen before. By that measure, this was an outstanding success. And there were also a lot of younger vehicles. Again, predominantly American in origin.
There were many pristine low-mile time-capsule examples as well as well-used unrestored cars. These were part of the HPOF (Historic Preservation of Original Features) class. Patina was alive and well at Hershey 2018!
I strolled through the field, taking pictures until my battery died. At 3 PM came the best part: all the cars rolled out of the field by their own means and I just watched and listened, taking it all in. Have you ever seen a steam car rolling down the street? It sounds exactly like a small train! It was very memorable.
Please find a few of my highlights below. A full picture gallery can be found here.
Arguably the star of the show was this beautiful 1938 Reo tractor and Curtiss Aerocar combination. This is late thirties streamlining at its finest. The trailer, aptly nicknamed “Vagabond”, was one of the earliest fifth-wheel trailers. The tractor was custom built by Standard Carriage Works of Los Angeles. It currently features a Cummins 6-cylinder diesel engine, fitted in 1953 after the original V12 died after more than 250K miles of use! It was really hard to photograph as, understandably, people flocked to it like bears to honey.
“It’s such a comfort to take the bus… and leave the driving to us”. It’s a 1950s GMC PD-4501 Scenic Cruiser in what I assume to be period livery. The very definition of Americana. I believe it is powered by a Detroit Diesel Series 71 2-stroke V8, but I could be wrong.
There were so many Ford Model Ts that they had multiple classes dedicated to them.
The exposed mechanicals is my favorite part of the brass-era cars. This is a late 1910s Scripps-Booth, a Detroit-based manufacturer I’ve never heard about before. It features an overhead valve 6 cylinder engine. Note the exposed pushrods, rocker arms and valve springs.
I had never seen a Checker Cab before and had no idea of how big they are. Look how huge it looks next to a W108 Mercedes S-Class. It’s crazy to think these used to be all over NYC only a few decades ago.
This 1993 Mustang Cobra was one of the youngest cars at the show, leading me to believe the cutoff was 25 years old. If I remember correctly the car had less than 400 miles on the clock. Original owner. It even has the window sticker still on it! I hope the person bought two, one to show and one to drive. Otherwise it’s a little sad…
Early 90s sports cars remind me of my childhood and are inevitably my favorites. These two were both pristine examples with very low miles (11K on the Miata and 3K on the Elan, if I remember correctly). I think the Miata’s design aged much better than the Elan’s. Do you agree?
It’s hard to believe only 20 years (give or take one or two) separate these two Fords. The changes between late 20s and late 40s cars were very large. Now picture a 1998 and a 2018 car of the same segment side by side. They wouldn’t look all that different. It’s normal, industries evolve faster in their early days.
This freshly restored and somewhat early Porsche 356 looked amazing. Makes later 356s look busy and ugly. It made me realize I really like clean, unadorned cars.
This 2nd generation 1965 Chevrolet Corvair features one of the first automobile turbocharger applications (the first one appeared in the 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire). I find the accessory drive belt’s path super interesting. Apparently it caused a few problems back in the day.
This 2nd generation 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Fastback looked gorgeous. In my opinion these are much better looking than the more popular 3rd generation cars.
This beautiful and well-worn 1949 MG Y belonged to the HPOF (Historic Preservation of Original Features) class.
Watching and hearing cars like this 4th generation Pontiac Bonneville drive by was one of my favorite things about the meet.
I adored this 1991 Efini MS-9 for sale in the car corral. Efini was Mazda’s failed attempt at a (Japan-only) luxury brand but it produced some fine automobiles. This is the earliest example of a car with a fully integrated (blinker and main headlight in one) composite headlight I’ve ever seen. I believe the MS-9 was sold in the US as the Mazda 929. By the way, that weird looking Mitsubishi 3000GT in the background is actually a Dodge Stealth…
Also for sale was this delicious Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2. Exotic GTs are typically less appreciated than their sports cars brethren. Sometimes undeservedly so, as this car demonstrates.
This 1.1 liter, supercharged 1933 MG L-Type Roadster was full of exquisite details, like the preselect gearbox.
The first Chevrolet Corvette was crude but oh so pure…
And last but not least, we have what I believe to be a 1960 Chrysler Windsor. The excesses of the jet age… The contrast against the Fiat 124 in the background is stark.