August 6, 2004

13th Annual National City Auto Heritage Day Celebrated

The blue sky at the 13th annual National City Automobile Heritage Day last Sunday matched the ’56 Buick Imperial’s paint job, with white clouds for the trim. The car show has always been a favorite summer event and this year’s show did not disappoint. It started off, as it always does, with a mile long serpent of autos snaking through town on a seven-mile series of loops. The parade eventually finished up at Kimball Park. Chairperson of the show’s organizing committee Patti Finnegan, reported over 320 entrants registered for the event.

With NC’s close relationship with the Mile of Cars, Auto Heritage Day has been a natural opportunity for cross-promotion from the beginning. 13 years ago local artist Ed Pieters started the show as a community-led celebration and today the National City Chamber of Commerce runs it. Several dealers from the Mile of Cars sent new models for exposure to the public.

The South Bay Cruisers car club was on hand once again. This group has participated in every NC Auto Heritage Day since its inception. The members of the club support car shows throughout the South Bay and hold a charity raffle each year. In addition, Mariachi Juventil of the National School District and the acapella group Countdown provided some of the musical entertainment.

Later in the morning, judges circulated among the cars, tallying the points for a competition. The entire car must be clean and shiny in order to win. I have always thought that the engine compartment of an automobile is more like a workshop than a dining room. But that’s not every enthusiast’s view. The chrome shined on the bumpers and under the hoods of the many Chevies, Fords, Buicks, and Pontiacs (this year’s featured marque).

The car show also attracted many representatives of City Government. Councilmen Fideles Ungab and Luis Natividad served hamburgers and Ron Morrison volunteered many hours setting up booths. City staff on hand included Leslie Deese from the City Manager’s office and Building Department Director Kathleen Trees, both of whom sold raffle tickets in Victorian dress. NCPD and Fire Department personnel had outreach booths and talked to kids about safety issues.

From the 1915 Ford Model T to the 2005 Nissan Z, the colorful display of steel, chrome, rubber, and wood was very impressive. Beautiful glass trophies went to the top three cars in each class. I am sure this show will continue to be a nice summer attraction for National City and the region. But something about the automobile dominated culture we live in eats at me. With gasoline prices over $2.00 and likely to head up to $3.00 or even $4.00, I have to believe that we are celebrating the final days of the Gasoline Engine. Antique autos will always be around to remind us of the days of cheap oil and the ever-expanding suburbs and freeways. Nevertheless, I’m thinking about cleaning the engine compartment before next year’s show.

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