Hundreds of vintage car enthusiasts came to downtown Napa Saturday to admire and photograph Chevrolet Bel Airs, Cadillacs, Corvettes and Ford Model T’s from as far back as the 1920s.
In all, 400 pre-1976 cars and pickup trucks parked along Main, First and Second streets for the day.
“It’s a chance to show off our toys,” said Dennis Talley, a member of the Napa Valley Cruisers, the group that organizes the annual event with the Napa Downtown Association.
Jim Tokuyoshi of Napa drove his restored 1931 Ford pickup truck to the show. The burgundy pickup, he said, is a tribute to his father, a gardener in the Richmond area who drove a similar truck for years.
Tokuyoshi, 64, a tow truck driver who works in Richmond, takes the old Ford to eight shows a year, including Napa. People at car shows are always happy to see old cars, he said.
“Everybody likes vintage cars. That’s what makes it interesting,” he said, referring to the car shows. “When you come to these car shows, everybody is very pleasant.”
Gayle Maldonado and husband Rudy Maldonado Jr., of Dixon, brought a 1957 Bel Air that Rudy had restored with his late father, Rudy. “It took six years,” said Gayle Maldonado, 45.
The couple entered the Napa show for the first time this year. “We heard it was really beautiful, nice,” Gayle Maldonado said.
Frank Lopez of Napa came with his son, David, 14. “We come every year. It’s fun,” he said, as he and David checked a restored 1934 Dodge pickup truck. “It’s a beautiful show,” he added, before starting to chat with Ken Wagner of Sacramento, who came to Napa with his Labrador, Ruben Dog.
“To me, that is top of the line,” Wagner said as he admired the green 1934 pickup truck.
Gloria Wilcher of Novato came with a Napa friend, Shalee Cunningham. “I love the cars; I want to see all of them,” the 62-year-old Wilcher said while walking down First Street.
Also at the show, Todd Shulman, a detective with the Napa Police Department, answered questions from passers-by stopping by the Napa Police Historical Society’s 1957 Ford Custom 300. The car was restored in 2011.
“It’s a new way to preserve history,” said Shulman, who has written history books on crime and law enforcement in Napa County.
The event started late Friday afternoon with a smaller show at Oxbow Public Market. Edward and Karen Ulshafer of Napa came with their 1959 Corvette, which they often drive on the Silverado Trail.
“I love the body style. I love the drivability. It’s a sexy car,” said Edward Ulshafer, who was 3 when his car was built.
“I just always loved the vintage Corvette,” he said, referring to the generation of two-seaters built between early 1956 and 1962. “It’s a great winery car.”
Ulshafer said he bought the Corvette two decades ago and had it restored years later after it sat in his garage for a decade.
The actual restoration took about four years, he said.
There is a move to restore old cars in a modernized way, equipping them with power steering and more powerful engines. “But I think the real, the true collectors want a car that is as close to what was original as possible,” Ulshafer said.