We attend as many shows as possible to gather the stories for our online collector car website/e-zine.


It only makes sense to go to the place where you are most likely to find the stories because most shows are a treasure trove of interesting vehicles and very proud owners.


We have also found out what elements of a car show make the events better for the participants.




The first thing on the table is the registration fee for the events. Most shows will attach a fee for participation and most participants will duly note this cost factor.


Car guys will evaluate a show that charges a registration for their event in the event. Most of the participants will be very unhappy if the fee (however minimal) provides nothing in return for their investment.


The owners may have traveled long distances to attend the show, bearing in mind that a non-trailer queen vehicle may also be an original car or truck from a bygone era. The vehicle may be slower, older and less reliable than a modern car, so the entire trip may be a long misadventure where bad things happen to good old cars along the way.




They will have donated their time, money and vehicle to attend a show, so they will be happy with any gesture that acknowledges their participation in the show.


Gestures of goodwill may be a gift bag with car show souvenirs like pens, buttons, stickers, or even coupons from local merchants that give a discount to show-goers. Some shows offer commemorative shirts while others offer unique trophies shaped like pistons or old gas pump displays on the pedestal.


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The important part of the equation is any goodwill gesture that indicates to the car guys in the show that they matter to the host organizers. Most people want to be appreciated for their efforts and car guys are no exception to this rule. Even a heartfelt personal greeting delivered to each participant by an organizer will go a long way with car guys.


Another important issue is the organization and communication element in a car show. Car guys want to know every detail of the show, including where and how vehicles will be parked in the event. We attended a car show that was switched from the downtown area of a small town into a field near the town.


The last minute switch from flat pavement to an uneven cow pasture was not well received by some car guys because they did not want to drive a low-slung vehicle off the pavement and into a gopher field.


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Anything that may influence their decision to attend a show needs to be addressed, including the lay of the land.


Car guys also prefer to be around vehicles that reflect their interests. They are not thrilled when new vehicles are allowed to participate in vintage shows, a point taken to extreme in one annual show where brand new vehicles are allowed to park in the prime central main street positions during the show.




Many participants felt that the organizers at this event were more interested in the entry fee than the actual car show.


The net result from this show’s policy was a new show in another town that allows only vintage rides in their event is now held on the same day to compete with the original car show. One car show has gotten bigger while the other show has gotten smaller-you guess which one has grown in size.


Another factor to consider is the show winners. We would advise car show organizers to award winners with no sense of local favoritism entered into the equation. Neutrality is the best policy if a show wants to avoid negative publicity in the car world, so think Switzerland with four wheels.


In the final analysis, you can’t please everyone because of the ever-present human nature factor found in everything that involves people, but these very basic car show guidelines will win over a lot of car guys.


Jim Sutherland

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