“This is our party and dance for the community,” said John Hall, officer in the Rim Country Classic Auto Club, “so long as they like great cars, rock and roll and smiling people, this is the event to attend.”
On Saturday, April 27, the group hosted its annual car show at Green Valley Park, where vintage cars from all years filled every parking lot and ringed the grassy knoll near the band stand.
Visitors had to roam around to find a parking space. All the spaces at Julia Randall Elementary, the Parks and Rec parking lot and the streets surrounding Green Valley filled up with folks who came to gawk, stare and reminisce about the old cars.
RCCAC member Mimi Halgren said more than 270 cars were on display. She and fellow Studebaker lover Gary Keating wandered around with a tally sheet in hand to vote for the People’s Choice award.
Hall said the club gave out more than 60 trophies including the Best Red Car, given away by Payson Fire Department Chief Marty deMasi and Chief’s Choice given away by Payson Police Department Chief Don Engler.
“That trophy had a little black and white police cruiser on top,” said Hall.
Car lovers from Tucson, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Prescott, Flagstaff, Show Low, and even out of state brought restored Chevys, Fords, Corvettes, and even rare cars such as the tiny 22 horse power 1949 Crosley Pickup. Only 15 remain in the world and Larry Bertram from Payson owns one.
Hall said the People’s Choice award went to a gentleman who drove his 1933 Pontiac with a rumble seat out from Omaha, Neb. The owner has a home in Anthem, but had this car in the Midwest. “When that one got rolled around, everybody agreed it should be best in show,” said Hall. “It was head and shoulders above the rest.”
Hall said what distinguished the Pontiac was that it had everything put together, a good engine, interior and paint job.
“It was some sort of gray-green that was eye-catching,” said Hall.
The day celebrated a longing for times past when the engine was a simple block connected to a few wires and a fan.
One man from Prescott said he easily fixed up his Model A, but couldn’t fix anything on his new car. “It has so many computers and wires — it’s just too complicated,” he said as he munched on kettle corn at a table set up under the trees.
Vendors did a brisk business next to the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin. Beers and brats, frozen lemonade and funnel cake nourished car viewers.
The Rim Country Classic Auto Club had a special parking lot for its members next to the vendors.
Steve and Margie Fowler of Payson had a little 1957 Nash redone with a Disney theme. A stuffed Minnie Mouse toy sat on the hounds tooth patterned interior, while fuzzy dice with a twist dangled off the rearview mirror.
“Those dice had Mickey Mouse heads!” said Hall. “It took a little looking, but then you could see that these were not the typical fuzzy dice we had on other cars.”
Larry Gilbert, a new member in the club, said this was his first year showing his 1931 Model A. “This was the last year Ford made this model,” he said.
Gilbert proudly showed off the pinstripes that he had painted in their original position, the red spokes on the wheel frames, and the elegant quail hood ornament that had been sold at Ford dealerships and was not stock on the cars.
Pointing to the engine, he made note of the brass strips used to connect the spark plugs to the 40 horsepower engine block. “Things were a lot more simple back then,” he said. “Anyone could fix this engine.”