When Joe Colombo was in high school, he owned a red and white 55 Chevy. I loved that car and was so proud of it, says the chair of the upcoming 19th Annual Orange Plaza Car Show, who was not surprisingly heartbroken when his girlfriend (now his wife), wrecked it.
For years I searched for another 55 Chevy, but couldnt quite afford the car whenever I found it for sale, until about 15 years ago, says Columbo, a 33-year Orange resident who found the same model at the Pomona Swap meet. The car looks brand new and runs well, he says. The guy I bought the car from built it from scratch and didnt want to part with it, but I think he needed the cash, because his wife made him sell. (Thereby taking one wife off the hook and putting another one on it!) Since that time, Ive also bought a 32 Ford Roadster, he says.
Each year at the Orange Plaza Car Show, Columbo and the owners of approximately 430 pre-1976 hot rods and custom and classic vehicles display their cars and happily share their stories. The popular show, which is held in the Plaza and hosted by the Orange Sunrise Rotary, attracts auto aficionados from near and far, bringing in 12,000 to 15,000 visitors on this one day.
Visitors to the car show see vehicles from the early 1900s through 1976, comprising anything from original vehicles to highly modified autos, including ratrods, says Columbo, who explains that the latter vehicles refers to mutt cars. Back in the 50s, guys like me didnt have the money to buy a new car, so they pieced together a hotrod with whatever items they found lying around, he says.
At the festivities, cars, which are driven in early the morning of the event, are judged by independent judges for various classifications. The Rotary Club gives away 34 trophies, including 10 specialty awards, such as Mayors choice. For those who plan ahead, Columbo notes that next year in 2014 for the shows 20th anniversary, they will give away a V8 motor and automatic transmission valued at $5,000 from JMC Performance.
People who invest their time, talent and treasures into an auto want to show it off, and this is the perfect chance to do so and get awarded for their efforts, says Howard Glasser, immediate past president of the Orange Sunrise Rotary Club and a longtime Orange resident. The car owners take their fun seriously. They hang around for the whole day to happily chat with visitors of all ages, says Glasser, who notes that the day features pre-1975 music, opportunity drawings for car goodies and auto supply vendors.
The show is a real family event, says Columbo, also an Orange Sunrise Rotary Club member. Cars evoke a pride of ownership and give a sense of history and of place. Kids love to hear stories and find out about the old cars. Its a kick to see a child sitting in an old dragster while the proud owner tells all about it.
This years event will be held on Sunday, April 21st. Proceeds from the show go to the Orange Sunrise Rotary Clubs many philanthropic endeavors, including serving local homeless and the national Rotarys End Polio Now campaign. The Rotary is in need for additional sponsors of the event. Current sponsors include Grandpoint Bank and Selman Chevrolet.
Select to view 2011 Plaza Car Show article.
Select to view Orange Sunrise Rotary Car Show information
Published in the Jan/Feb 2013 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Julie Bawden-Davis, Photographs by Jeanine Hill
Copyright © OrangeReview.com | MikeEsco@OrangeReview.com