Doane Yawger: Nothing beats great car show

June 9, 2012 

Modesto really knows how to put on a car show.

Nearly 380 collector cars and trucks surrounded the McHenry Village shopping center last Sunday for the seventh annual Graffiti Classic Car Show, Plenty of folks checked out the vintage tin, with weather that was just about ideal.

My favorite had to be a 1953 Hudson four-door looking showroom-fresh.

There was a 1930 Hupmobile three-window coupe and a 1936 Studebaker President four-door sedan that any gangster would be proud to ride in.

One of the classiest cars I spotted was a 1956 Pontiac Star Chief convertible in red and white. A 1958 Chevrolet Impala two-door hardtop had a white top and a deep coating of light green paint that looked factory-fresh. Custom fans had to be drawn to a 1957 Buick two-door hardtop with side pipes, three 1959 Cadillac taillights arrayed in vertical tailfins and elaborate blue paint with panels and flames.

With that many high-quality cars, competition for the eyes certainly was tough Sunday. A pewter-colored 1940 Chevrolet coupe had Hawaii license plates, and a 1935 Ford five-window coupe had deep ruby metallic paint accented by elaborate flames. An early 1970s Cadillac hearse catered to macabre tastes.

A 1955 Ford F100 pickup had bright yellow paint and wide whitewall tires. A 1939 Mercury coupe looked like a traditional 1950s custom with a chopped top. Some rare birds beckoned and it seemed like there were more four-door cars than ever before. I spotted a 1965 Mercury Comet, a 1958 Ford, a 1957 Chevrolet, a 1948 Cadillac and a 1964 Fairlane, all in four-door form.

Other uncommon sightings included a 1954 Desoto two-door hardtop and a 1950 Ford F-1 pickup in a copper and chocolate color scheme that had to cost big bucks. A 1973 Ford Torino station wagon had been converted to a roadster pickup with convincing results, and a 1957 Ford Sunliner retractable convertible showed off its original red and white colors.

Save Mart had its multi-story shopping cart, complete with big V-8 engine,on hand. Modesto has a long list of American Graffiti-themed car events this month, all much more controlled and civilized than an early Graffiti cruise I attended along McHenry Avenue years ago.

That late Saturday event dragged on through the evening, with thousands of exuberant spectators, many of them not really behaving themselves all that well. There were police on horseback and helicopters trying to keep things under wraps, but only barely. The next year the cruises were more controlled and civilized.

Safe and sane, civil or not-so-sensible, Modesto puts on a whale of a car show.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or

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