It’s Sunday, and back at home in NY, it’s raining. Sunday is the traditional Hershey getaway day; I visualize wheeled convoys—wipers swishing and tarps flapping—fanning out from Chocolate Town to bases all over the country and beyond. Three days ago, I was walking the flea market rows in broad sunshine, and that memory is already a dream. Because that’s what Hershey is. This mix of automotive fantasy and realty—land—is more than the sum of its parts. I have made the pilgrimage there since the 1970s, and thoughts of walking it with Dad flood back every time I go. All the castings, extrusions and stampings are just stuff without the emotion that hobbyists invest in them. Which is just what happens. You remember give and take over cars and parts with people whose accents are different from yours, trading knowledge with a smile and a handshake, and those memories go to a warm place.
And here’s a car made just for warm places. We’ll visit Car Corral later, but here’s a teaser. This lovely 1959 Bianchina rolltop, restored to within a hair’s breadth of perfect, was offered for a mere $59,500. It’s basically a FIAT 500 encrusted with jewels, and, depending on your point of view, a charming accessory for a corner of the garage, or a Shriners Club clown car.
Speaking of which, here’s the genuine article — an actual clown car. Built out of an American Austin, as most were, it appears to be more of a parade than circus version; there’s no roof to hide the 20 Bozos who would normally be able to exit the side after climbing through a trap door underneath.
Sometimes, it’s not the merchandise that grabs your eye, it’s “whut brung it”. This amazing estate on wheels came with its own back porch, evoking images of W.C. Fields relaxing on an airborne “observation deck” at 10,000 feet in a fantasy sequence from the 1941 comedy, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (where he knocks a flask of whiskey off the side, and jumps out after it).
On the other end of the spectrum from “built up”, you can start your rod project from the scratch with a freshly minted frame, here shod with wooden discs to keep the brake drums above the fray. All the body panels are also available “in the white”.
Finding the right engine for your ride is easy at Hershey, especially if you want an original Ford flat head, in stock or modified form.
Or, you might want to install vintage mods on an engine you already have, each battling for eye time with a custom cast logo. Add overhead valves, dual carbs, a performance manifold or more… you are only limited by your pocketbook.
Own something newer, like a ’57 Star Chief? You’ll want a legendary Pontiac Tri-Power triple carburetor setup to make it go.
What about your two wheeler? If your Henderson is missing its engine, you could have this one for just $10,000.
On the other hand, you might have come to Hershey hoping to find that last little piece to complete the puzzle, the detail that will put your 1925 Jordan Playboy over the top in the judging. How about a set of genuine Schrader valve caps? Remind the judges that they are period-correct, NOS (“New Old Stock”), and don’t forget to mention, as the small type of the accompanying ad suggests, you found out about them first in India Rubber Review.
Next post: a visit to the Car Corral at Hershey 2016