BANGOR, Maine — John Whitten drove to Bangor from his home in Harrington on Saturday, looking for a trip down Memory Lane.
He didn’t find quite what he was looking for at the “Wheels on the Waterfront” classic car show, but it was still well worth the drive, he said.
“I’ve been looking for a ’52 Chevy Custom Sedan,” said Whitten, who is 67. His family owned one of the big cars the whole time he was growing up. “I went to college in it,” he said on Saturday afternoon, as the crowds from the car show were dissipating.
But when Whitten graduated in 1965, the Chevy drifted out of family ownership.
“I had a Shelby Mustang on order, but it was going to take too long to get,” he said. “So I picked up a 1962 Thunderbird. It had a swing-away steering wheel and a great big engine.”
The Ford T-bird also came with some built-in problems.
“People used to say Ford stands for ‘Figure on Repairs Daily,’” Whitten cracked. “But I kept that car until 1986 and then I sold it because I couldn’t get fuel for it anymore.” That’s because federal environmental regulations did away with the leaded gas the Thunderbird required.
His favorite vehicle at the show? A wood-paneled 1956 Chevy Nomad wagon.
Whitten was one of hundreds of people who flocked to the 2010 car show on the Bangor Waterfront to reminisce about their early automotive loves, to admire the handsome restorations and fanciful customizations of the classic vehicles, and to daydream about owning one of the gleaming showpieces on display.
The event featured more than 300 cars, trucks and motorcycles, most in spectacular show condition. Antiques from the 1920s and 1930s, beach wagon classics from the ’50s and ’60s, souped-up muscle cars and low-riders — there was something for everyone. There were groupings of popular Camaros, Corvettes and Mustangs as well as two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive pickups.
The car show was set up on the green grass of the expansive waterfront park, sandwiched in time between Friday night’s sold-out Alan Jackson concert and a performance Saturday night by eclectic indie-folk performer Jason Mraz, who is beginning a national tour with his Bangor appearance.
Many families attended the car show. Jamie Williamson of Orrington brought her two youngsters, Everett, who is almost 4, and Amber, who is 6.
“They like cars, they like trucks, so we thought we’d come over and take a look at them,” Williamson said. Everett seemed too overwhelmed to speak, but Amber said she especially liked a lime-green Studebaker pickup truck, year unknown.
Alone in its “rat rod” class, the work-in-progress 1952 Chevrolet Delivery sedan owned by Teresa Maybury of Brewer attracted a lot of attention.
“The girls want to know when it’s going to be pretty, but the guys like seeing the welds and the work,” she said.
The sedan had been put out to pasture about 40 years before Teresa Maybury and her husband, Mark, hauled it out of the woods in Kenduskeag. Shortened, lowered, welded, primer-ed and unlovely, the hulking sedan is legal to drive and has made the circuit of local and regional car shows this summer, attracting crowds wherever it goes, Maybury said.
“We drove it to Moncton [New Brunswick] in July,” she said proudly. “It hasn’t been trailered since we brought it home.”
Attendance numbers at the third annual car show were not immediately available Saturday afternoon.