The Vermont Antique & Classic Automobile Show – 1957 to 2019

Not a lot was written about 1957 other than a race up the Mt. Mansfield Toll Road by a Stanley Steamer and a Model T. In the 1958 VAE Show, there were eleven cars registered. This year, we expect over 600 registrations in 34 classes. We have grown-up! 

1960 stowe vt antique car rally

The Stanley Steamer won the race in 1957. It turns out, steam does not care about elevation changes…but…Model Ts do care. Our 50th Anniversary book reported that the T did make it to the top of Mt. Mansfield’s Toll Road but it had to do it backing up the entire 4 miles! Back then, the August show was called the “Invitational Meet”. 

Around 1969 the VAE August show changed names to “Antique Car Rally”. One of the first car show reports showed up in the winter Wheel Tracks where it was reported there were 225 cars. A comment was made how in only 12 years they went from having a parade with only two cars to the 1969 parade with 180 vehicles. The “Friendliest Car category” went to Paul Dutton’s Cadillac Calliope. 

In 1971, Clark Wright had recently finished as Wheel Tracks editor and Larry Johnson took over. There was an ad for a 1946 Hudson, asking $695. A nice complete car but there was a knock in the engine. The 14th VAE Stowe Rally had 300 cars that year with the “Friendliest Car” being a 1902 Orient motorcycle. There were 11 venders in the flea market. 

The 1979 show moved from Mt. Mansfield parking lot to the Topnotch field. The move created some growing problems but they had 325 cars that year. It was reported in Wheel Tracks that a crow flew over the field at 1;04 PM when they found that some of the “johns” had run out of toilet paper. A white model T led the parade that year and it appears the “Friendliest Car Category” has been dropped. The classifieds had Gael Boardman looking to buy a 10-20 IHC tractor and he also had a 48 Chevy to sell (that was too good to scrap). 

Another move was made after being at Topnotch for 12 years. In 1991, the move was made to Nichols Field, just south of Stowe Village on Route 100. Christine Skinner was our editor then and glee was expressed, in the newsletter, of not having “lake-front” flea market spaces any longer. A 1980 Canadian wolf fur coat was for sale in the classifieds for $275 (requirement….the new owner had to be bilingual). Very little was reported about the Show’s first year at Nichols Field. There was mentioned in August of 1992 that show car registrations had passed 600, (like last year). There were some worried discussions about how many cars the club could handled at this ’larger field’ (discussions of 1000 show cars came up). The Vermont Chamber of Commerce had awarded our Stowe Show, the best summer event in the state. 

Conception Conti was our club secretary in 1993 and in his September Wheel Tracks report, he told of “gorgeous weather” for the August show that year and over 800 show cars. He witnessed car tags from 10 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces and one of the best shows, ever. Bob Jones, the president that year, said he would not have survived the show without all the wonderful volunteers (also true to this day)! Bob does not mention the owner, but the President’s Award that year went to a 1947 Ford convertible painted Monsoon Maroon. Bob also discusses a mistake in the recently published VAE’s 40th Anniversary Book, claiming he had been in the Navy. “The closest I ever got to the Navy, was the troop ships, that transported myself and a few thousand others to Korea in the early 50s….as US Army soldiers, not sailors!!!.” 

Jumping to September 2001, when the August show was mentioned by President Fred Cook ( many of the years, Wheel Tracks had no written show after-report). “There can be little doubt, everything came together for the 2001 Stowe Show. VAE’s 44th year, was one of the best!.” Tom Maclay and Dick Currier were the show chairs that year. 

Fred had a special “tip ‘o the hat” for Tom Mchugh that year. It was Tom’s 35th year as the Flea Market Chair….(lets see, it is 2019 now…emm, 35 plus 18 makes it an amazing 53 years that Tom McHugh has been doing his magic in the Flea Market!) 

Ray Tomlinson wrote a note to Wheel Tracks at 5:45AM the Monday after the show. He and his brother, Richard, had co-chaired the car corral for the past 9 years and he spoke about the “amazing show” that year. Ray spoke about being a part of the huge group of show volunteers and listed the many jobs involved in creating a successful show. Les Skinner was the VAE treasurer in 2001, it was noted Les had a huge failure as “The weather Chairman” and he was quietly let-go. Sandy Lambert was the Wheel Tracks editor. 

VAE car show farrs field sign

Fast forward to 2019…. Farr’s Field is waiting for us, the army of volunteers have spent the past 12 months working on this year’s show and we are only days away from pulling the trigger for the 62nd year. It was sad for many of us to leave Nichols Field in Stowe after those many years but the leap to Waterbury was the BEST-EVER outcome. Waterbury is a progressive city and we are now a big part of its great future. 

We need help in these categories if you have an hour or part of a day to spare. Call Duane Leach so he can pencil you in so he knows he has help. 802-849-6174 

The categories……Field set up……Parade lineup……Award lineup…..Someone in charge of speakers….Help with announcing on the field (Gael Boardman’s job) and field take down. 

1 thought on “The Vermont Antique & Classic Automobile Show – 1957 to 2019”

  1. You guys do such a great job. Thank you!

    After going to the Stowe car show since a child my family (which now includes my own children) and I are just heartbroken that the show has moved to Waterbury.

    The show this year was very nice but what you had with stowe was nothing short of magical. I hope that after the contract with Waterbury is up that somehow the show makes its way back home. I’ve spoken to so many folks who hope for the same outcome.

    All the best and thank you again.

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