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Vrooooooooom! Car buffs show their ‘toys’ at 1A Auto


PEPPERELL — Show cars take lots of care and feeding to be sure they look, sound and run just like they should.

Restoring a vehicle or keeping a new one completely up-to-snuff is a labor of love. Local car buffs were shining at the 1A Auto Charity Car Show.

Lots of people in the area have vintage cars, said founder Merle Green. The owner of 1A Auto Parts wanted to give them an occasion to get together and he wanted to support two charities.

The entry fee for Sunday’s show was $10. Vendors paid a bit more and spectators were admitted free. The profits go to Multiple Sclerosis of America and the North Middlesex Athletic Boosters.

Over 200 cars and a few motorcycles and trucks pulled into the Town Field, announced by the growl of exhaust.

Not all were fully restored; some were part way through what can be a long process. Domestic and foreign, all were welcome.

“I love this show because it’s so close to home,” said Pepperell’s Liz McQuillen. She has been showing her 1982 Datsun 280ZX Turbo since the 1A show debuted eight years ago.

Like other owners, she has a story. McQuillen bought the car she referred to as “her” when it was new. Over the years, the car moved from being a daily driver to only going out when it is nice.

Taking pride of place at the show was a 1966 Pontiac GTO. Green bought it used for his wife to drive when their kids were still in school.

The car turned out to be quite the find. Raced as a stock car, it was not only undefeated, it racked up 27 trophies in over a half year.

It is fully restored. It seems that the family has a thing for the made-in-Michigan cars. The couple and their now-grown three children own eight GTOs and seven other Pontiacs including a six-door limo.

For some, their show cars came later in life.

“When I retired, my wife said I could own a toy,” said Marty Wasznicki of Townsend. He spent over four years restoring a 1966 Plymouth Satellite, doing all the work except the motor and painting himself.

He and his wife fostered 100 teen-aged girls over the years. That paid off in an unexpected way.

“One of my foster girls found it,” he said of the vehicle discovered in Maine. The owner sold it to buy a handicap van for his wife.

Bill and Jeannine Butler of Pepperell bought their 1940 Ford Coupe hot rod about a year ago. It had no motor and no transmission.

Now that it is running, they take the car to local shows. Budweiser in Merrimack, N.H. and Kimball’s in Lancaster are favorites. They are also looking forward to the show in Ashby over Labor Day weekend that benefits veterans.

Frank Ares waited out a 40-year career in law enforcement before buying a 2010 Grand Sport Corvette. He and his wife Francine Johnson take short trips in the car he started dreaming about when he was 15 and sat in his first ‘vette.

The longest trip for the pristine vehicle was a Corvette show in Carlisle, Penn. The highest was to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.

Whether the car is driven around the block or across the region, Ares cleans it every time it arrives home.

“I drive it; I clean it,” he said. “You’ve got to take care of it,” he said.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.

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