June 20, 2018
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Classic cars and sunny skies draw a crowd to the Bangor Waterfront

By Meg Haskell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Antique car buffs enjoyed a sunny late-summer trip down memory lane on Saturday at the fourth annual “Wheels on the Waterfront” car show hosted by the Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau.

More than 300 exhibitors rolled out their street rods and touring classics, vintage motorcycles, muscle cars and more at the family-friendly event. A danceable mix of rock ’n’ roll oldies kept young and old on their toes as they strolled through the site, stopping to inspect spotless engines and reminisce about tuck-and-roll upholstery.

Carole Varney of Bangor attended with friends, pausing over a pint-size 1959 Hillman Dairy delivery wagon.

“They used to deliver door-to-door, you know,” she said. Varney said that when she was a child, the Hillman dairy farm was located on outer Broadway on the site now occupied by the Husson University campus.

“The sad thing is, I remember when they were in business,” she said, laughing.

Gordon James of New Brunswick brought his splashy red-and-white 1956 Mercury Montclair convertible to the show, complete with fuzzy dice suspended from the rearview mirror. Though he collects vintage cars and often displays at such events, this is the first time he has come to the Bangor show.

“There are a lot of beautiful cars here, and everybody is very friendly,” he said.

Not all the vehicles on display were actually antiques.

Collector Bruce Farnsworth of Orono — son of Pat’s Pizza founder Pat Farnsworth — stood proudly by his entry, a faithful replica of a 1964 Cobra Daytona coupe, along with Carl Athmer of Hudson who hand-fabricated the race car’s curvaceous brushed aluminum chassis.

Just six of the original model were produced, according to Farnsworth, and one of those recently sold for almost $10 million.

Farnsworth said his Cobra has been 13 years in the making.

“Now I’m so old I have trouble getting in and out of it,” he said.

Saturday’s trailer ride to the car show was the Cobra’s first outing.

“The farthest I’ve driven it is from that parking lot to right here,” Farnsworth said. “I haven’t even had it in second gear yet.”

The car show is a reliable fundraiser for the convention bureau, generating about $15,000 in revenues each year. Chairman Bob Banks, owner of the Windswept Gardens nursery and landscaping business in Bangor, said organizers encounter a few “hiccups” each year.

Last year, the show was located in the grassy field close to Main Street, which turned muddy after a soaking rain the day before, he said.

This year, the show was moved closer to the paved parking lots and graveled areas near the river, improving the experience for both exhibitors and attendees while allowing the city’s Waterfront Concert program to occupy the adjacent grassy field. The only downside, Banks said, was the occasional musical competition between the oldies soundtrack at the car show and the loud sound checks from the nearby concert stage.

Banks left his collectible 2006 Pontiac Solstice at home Saturday, knowing he would be too busy to show it off at the event. But he wasn’t too busy to shop around a bit, imagining being behind the wheel of some of the classy vehicles on display.

“Oh, sure, if I had Jay Leno’s garage, I could fill it right up,” said Banks. “And if I had Jay Leno’s money.”

For more about the 2011 Wheels on the Waterfront car show, including class listings and awards, visit the website of the Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau at http://www.bangorcvb.org/content/4076/Bangor_Car_Show/.

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