May 25th marked the 20th annual Memorial Weekend Classic Car Show in Hamden, CT. For two decades the Connecticut Classic Chevy Club has teamed up with the Hamden Police Department and Quinnipiac University to put on this show which is one of the largest classic automobile shows in Connecticut. For most car nuts in that little state this event is the first big show of the season. The show means the time has come for everyone to pull the covers off their cars, start dusting, and detailing.
The CT Classic Chevy Club started in 1993 when six friends, Ron Steiner, George Civitelli, Bob Civitelli, Ted Arotsky, Lee Ritchie, and Ron DePoto, all with 1955-57 Chevy’s, decided to get together to form their own CT chapter of Classic Chevy International (now Eckler’s Classic Chevy).
The show was established back in 1994 when long time friends George Civitelli and Jack Kennelly decided to start a small car show in Hamden, CT. They had both been car lovers and friends since high school. Both wanted to start a car show not only for fun, but also to benefit local charities and scholarships for Quinnipiac and Southern Connecticut Universities. According to George Civitelli, who has been the club president since 2000, they have raised over $450,000 for local charities.
The show officially opened at 8:00 AM on Sunday, but there were already cars lined up on the road waiting to get in by 7:00AM. The show didn’t start on Sunday morning for the club members though; they were there all day Saturday setting up tents and making sure that all of the vendors were taken care of. Registration took place from 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM on Sunday, when the judging officially started. By 10:00 AM the lot was looking pretty full.
Shine Em’ Up!
With New England weather being predictably unpredictable there was a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, but that didn’t keep hundreds of cooped up car fanatics away. With the long winter over and the streets finally cleared of salt and sand over 750 vehicles came through the gates. There certainly was no shortage of stunning classic cars and trucks. From unrestored time capsules to hundred thousand dollar show cars; there was certainly something for everyone.
As luck would have it, there was a passing shower about halfway through the show, but New Englanders are used to a little bit of falling water. While some people scrambled out in a hurry most of the car show goers didn’t skip a beat and simply held out until the rain stopped. It was quite the scene with several hundred people toweling their cars off at the same time!
Our Top Picks from the Show
#1 1970 Nova SS Tribute
Upon first glance, this little Nova looked like any other nicely restored Super Sport and we almost walked right by it. If it wasn’t for the owner questioning all of our camera gear you may not be reading about this car now. Scott Fritz of Wallingford, CT has owned this car since the mid 1970s. Fritz said, “I bought the car second hand with hardly any mileage on it from a local Chevy dealership and used to street race it on the weekends in the 1970s. People laughed at me because it was just a plain Jane Nova with no power so I decided that I wanted to make it into an SS.”
That’s exactly what Scott did. He took it off the road in the 1990s to begin installing a new engine and as we all know one project leads to the next and so on. What started out as a small project turned into a complete restoration as the Nova never made it back on the road in that decade. He would spend the next 12 years completely transforming the Nova into the Super Sport that he always wanted. Fritz told us, “I did everything on the car except for the body work and paint. I can’t count the number of nights I spent under the car detailing everything down to the original crayon markings. I wanted this to be the best SS tribute out there.” Fritz continued, “I got so carried away with the clone restoration that I even found an original 1970 Nova SS floor pan that I cut out of a junkyard car so that I could get the SS-only bucket seat brackets. You can’t even see the brackets after the carpet is installed, but they are usually the first things the experts look for. The judges literally feel for them through carpet.” This re-creation certainly had us fooled! The attention to detail is amazing, right down to the frame markings and parts that you can’t even see. Now Scott is the one laughing at all of the jealous passers by that drool over his Nova.
#2 1970 Chevelle Pro-Touring Convertible
Pro-Touring cars are somewhat of a rarity in the Northeast. When we spotted this super clean 1970 Chevelle with Forgeline wheels and low profile tires we had to stop and check it out. Designed and built by Gary and Ed Korzon, a great deal of attention was paid to the little details. Subtle things like the shaved door handles, hood pins, and trunk lock made the body look sleek. The side markers, mirrors, and emblems were also left behind drawing attention to the flowing body lines. The interior follows the same motif with custom, yet low-key custom seats and door panels, a Classic Thunder Road dash insert with Auto Meter American Muscle gauges, and Electric Life power windows. The trunk and spare tire covering look like they could have come from the factory.
This Chevelle not only had looks, but had plenty of muscle as well. Sitting in front of the smoothed firewall was a 440 cubic inch big block with 11:1 compression. That power is handled through a Tremec TKO600 5-speed and screams through a Pypes three inch stainless steel exhaust system. A Moser Engineering nine inch rearend puts the power to the ground. All of that grunt is great for going in a straight line but this Chevelle can also carve corners. The front suspension sports Detroit Speed’s front coilovers, CPP 2 inch drop spindles, and CPP tubular control arms. Out back are Hotchkis rear shocks and coil springs with adjustable control arms. Detroit Speed tubular sway bars sit in both ends of the car. The Chevelle stops as well as it launches with four-wheel disc brakes.
This little monster caught our attention, both when we were entering and when we were leaving the show so it deserved some recognition. This 1978 Monza, owned by Nelson Gonzalez, was about as pro-street as you can get. The Monza looked like a time capsule from the late 80s or early 90s when tubs and giant blowers were all the rage.
This gruesome munchkin packed a serious punch with a blown 350 and a big blue bottle of nitrous under the hatch. With a roll cage, giant wing, and wheelie bars, this tiny terror sees some serious hang time.
Despite the questionable weather forecast, the 20th Annual Memorial Weekend Car Show was a huge success. CT Classic Chevy definitely stepped up to make their 20th anniversary show an event to remember. We saw some of the best show cars that Connecticut has to offer. The show season has officially started in New England and we look forward to attending this show for two more decades!