By Donald Wittkowski
John Haymal took refuge Saturday inside his 1930 Ford hot rod while torrential rain pelted the black car.
The Ocean City resident normally is busy telling classic car aficionados the story about how he transformed his antique Ford from a heap of battered metal into a head-turning racer.
“It was in very bad condition,” he said.
But on this day, there were few car fans for Haymal to talk to other than some diehards who, tucked under their umbrellas, braved the gloomy weather to marvel at the automobiles from a bygone era lining the grounds of the Ocean City Tabernacle.
“What are you going to do?” Haymal said glumly of the rain.
The sloppy conditions put a damper on Ocean City’s Classic Car & Street Rod Show, as well as what was supposed to be a glamorous parade Saturday afternoon of the vintage autos on the Boardwalk. The old cars and trucks lined up for the parade, but few people were around to enjoy the spectacle.
“It’s very disappointing,” Galloway Township resident Ron Tornese said of the rain while sitting behind the wheel of his 1936 Cord Westchester on the near-empty Boardwalk.
Tornese recalled the big crowds that greeted the classic cars last year, when the weather was sunny.
“Last year, there were so many people on the Boardwalk looking at all of the cars,” he said.
Tornese’s Cord represented American luxury transportation when it was built by the Indiana-based Auburn Automobile Co. in the 1920s and ’30s. Auburn, unfortunately, faded into history when it went bankrupt.
The mocha-colored Cord Westchester owned by Tornese combines innovative features with a classic body style. It even has air-conditioning, which was unusual for a car in the 1930s.
“It’s got all the modern conveniences, but a great, old look,” said Tornese, who valued the car at $40,000.
The Classic Car & Hot Rod Show featured antique cars and trucks from virtually every era up to the 1980s. All of them were 1988 and older.
Antique car fan Rick Goodhart said he attends the show every year – rain or shine. On Saturday, he was catching peeks of the cars from underneath his umbrella.
“We’re not going to let some rain keep us away,” said Goodhart, a resident of Lancaster, Pa., who has a summer home in Ocean City. “You’ve got to support these people for bringing their cars here. It took a lot of gutsiness for them to come out in this weather.”
Haymal, the owner of the 1930 Ford hot rod, explained that he has a collection of classic cars. He said he extensively restored the old Ford after first getting the body and frame in rough shape.
“It’s one of my favorite cars,” he said. “It certainly attracts a lot of attention. Everyone seems to comment about it.”
Tony Nastus, of North Brunswick, N.J., was admiring Haymal’s car in the rain. Despite being soaking wet, Nastus said he didn’t hesitate about heading out to the car show.
“She knows how much I like old cars. I said to her, ‘Let’s go to the car show.’ The rain didn’t stop us,” Nastus said about his companion, Rosemarie, who declined to give her last name.