As the summer months come to a close, there is still something for car enthusiasts to look forward to: fall car shows. While popular events like the Woodward Dream Cruise and the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance are now behind us, there are ample opportunities to show off your unique collector in shows across the country.
Are you looking to impress with your beautiful collector car at an upcoming car show? Whether it’s your first outing, or the tenth time this season, a checklist is a handy way to ensure your classic will be award-worthy.
For years, I towed a collector car to shows, and now have switched to driving my ’67 Alfa Romeo if I’m showing it. The checklists are similar, with some slight differences if you’re using a tow vehicle and trailer. Yes, you want to “win,” but remember to engage the audience (they will think so much more of your car if you do), and most of all, have fun.
#1 Know the rules of the show ahead of time
Every show judges collector cars differently, so it is essential to understand to what standard your car will be judged. Some shows go only on “appearance,” while others have stricter guidelines. Some shows want the hood open, others closed. Others judge the undercarriage, while at some shows this isn’t a consideration. Regardless of the specifics, be sure to always bring supporting documentation (sales literature, advertising, owner’s manual etc.) to prove your car’s equipment or condition.
#2 Clean everything and everywhere
Most car collectors know the basics of pre-show maintenance – always clean up the paint, glass, and upholstery. If you want to win best in show, it is important to go beyond your standard cleaning routine to guarantee your collector catches the judge’s attention. Be sure to pay special attention to cleaning under the hood, in the wheel wells, and in the door jambs. It is also helpful to remove the tires to clean both sides of the wheels.
Try different cleaning products until you find what makes your car spotless and show ready.
#3 Be prepared for anything
If you decide to drive your classic car, be vigilant about checking all of the things that keep your vehicle running. Before you leave, check the battery, lights, fluids, and tires to ensure you will make it there safely. Fill the tank the day before to save time and always carry tools and spare parts in case of an emergency. Always have your cell phone and AAA card on your person; it never hurts to be prepared!
If you are trailering, confirm that your tow vehicle and trailer are in shape and check tie-down straps for function. To make the show day as stress-free as possible, find out ahead of time when you can park the trailer. Most shows have very specific parking instructions and trailer restrictions.
#4 Remember these must have items
Cleaning supplies are an essential at any car show as your collector braves the elements. Always bring a bucket, gloves, and microfiber cloths to cover all your cleaning needs. It is also crucial to pack waterless car wash, detail spray, glass cleaner, and chrome polish.
For your own comfort and enjoyment, bring sturdy folding chairs, water, snacks, and napkins. No matter the season, sitting out in the sun all day can take its toll on your car, and on you as well. Come prepared with a hat, umbrella, and suntan lotion. Lastly, bring a photo album of your restoration – people love before-and-after pictures.
When it’s all over, whether you’re taking home a trophy or not, you had the chance to show off your pride and joy, and hopefully you even made a few new friends in the process.
Richard Reina is a Product Trainer at CARiD.com and lifelong automotive enthusiast.