Classic car show zooms into town

The Laguna Beach Rotary is gearing up for the seventh annual Classic Car Show from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

About 200 vehicles will be wheeling onto the Festival of Arts Grounds and the parking lot across Laguna Canyon Road for car buffs to admire while judges pick the winners in 30 categories, from pricey antiques to workhorse trucks. Classic motorcycles will be included in the show for the first time.

"The show does not qualify as a concourse d'elegance, but we have a bigger variety of vehicles than the Newport concourse has," said Rotary spokesman John Nootbaar. "And the judges are concourse-approved."

Visitors will not see the 2011 models that are being showcased in the international shows across the country. Only pre-1974 vehicles are accepted in the Laguna Beach show.

The categories include American antiques made up to 1931, convertibles manufactured between 1946 and 1960, Corvettes and Mustangs made before 1972, Chevrolets built between 1955 and 1957 and pre-1965 T-Birds.

Hot rods, muscle cars, "Woodies," motorcycles ma de through 1969, special interest vehicles such as one-offs or Edsels, and mini-cars under 1500 ccs, manufactured before 1969, round out the American categories.

Councilman Kelly Boyd has entered his prize-winning 1959 Fiat Jolly in the mini-car category again this year.

European categories include sports cars, Ferraris, Jaguars, Porsches, post-World War II convertibles and closed cars — sedans and coupes — made between 1946 and 1960.

El Hathaway's Jag was the top prize winner in the 2009 show.

"Whether it's a reminder of some old classic — a "woody" or perhaps a European sports car — most of us have a special favorite or a memory of a great car from years ago," Nootbaar said. "Many of the owners [of vehicles in the show] will share stories with you about their collectible hobby and cars."

European entries this year will include a Silver Dawn Rolls Royce.

"There were only 750 Silver Dawns produced, a Model 12, manufactured in 1949, the first since World War II," Nootbaar said.

No automobiles were produced for domestic use in England or American during the war. Rolls made airplane and tank engines.

The Silver Dawn interior features several cigarette lighters, dash lights, rosewood tea trays, hardwood panels and trim and leather upholstery. The exterior sports a lot of chrome, including the flat vertical grille that fronts the svelte, elongated bonnet, as the Brits call car hoods, ornamented by the famous chrome "flying-lady."

It also has a hand crank in case the starter doesn't function.

However, the Rolls is considered by many to be the gold standard despite the company's predilection for names like Silver Ghost, Silver Clouds and Silver Phaetons. The United States was the main importer of the Rolls brand.

Rotary member and local attorney Rodney R. Hatter owns the Silver Dawn. He bought the "Roller" from local businessman Philo Smith three years ago. It was also entered in the 2009 show.

"There are more cars and the robust selection of entries are the best ever in this seventh annual presentation of the event," said Harry Bithell, who heads a 20-member committee that hosts the show.

"It is mainly a fundraiser for local charities and outreach projects that Laguna Beach Rotary has spearheaded in this community since its founding in 1931," Bithell said.

Although Rotary hosts the event, volunteers from other groups help to set up, supervise, and participate in the judging.

Laguna's quaint downtown lends itself to the display of beautiful cars from the past, Bithell said.

"We are close to the beach, downtown shops and restaurants," Bithell said. "The show can be a great weekend get-away. Last year we had one couple who were visiting San Diego and read about the show and came for the day. They were very impressed and said nothing like this was seen near their home in Germany."

The event will include opportunity drawings, a silent auction of art objects, restaurant give-aways, boutique coupons, and refreshments that include breakfast burritos, sodas, beer, wine and luncheon items provided by Ruby's Diner.

Admission to the show is $5 for adults, $2 for children younger than 12 and free for military and toddlers.

Tickets will be available at the Laguna Beach Farmers Market on Saturday and at all entrances to the car show.

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