Local Focus: Balboa Car Show Offers Classic Experience

Share this:

x_MG_1566“I attend a lot of major car shows, and this is absolutely the best one of all,” exclaimed Casey Goeller, whose classic 1966 Mustang (a consistent “Best of Show” winner) gleamed as brightly as a second sunrise at the early morning Balboa Car Show, held every Sunday at the city parking lot at East Balboa Blvd. and Palm St. in Balboa Village from 7 to 9 a.m.

Real Estate Broker Marcel Ford, whose office, Old Newport Realty, is parked directly across the street from the show’s venue, inaugurated the car show in November of 2013 and hosts the weekly automotive meetup.

“I started it for two reasons,” said Ford, a classic car fanatic. “I didn’t like driving to Irvine, Huntington Beach or Dana Point to attend shows that started at 6 a.m. and ended two hours later.

“Secondly, as president of the Balboa Village Merchant Association, I felt that the village needed more awareness thatx_MG_1594 we’re here, alive and doing well.”

Ford said that it made perfect sense to him to create Newport’s weekly car show, because “Where else on earth can you find garages around every corner that have beautiful vintage cars?”

Ford promoted his first show by personally distributing basic flyers to homes along the peninsula and on Balboa Island, talking it up at other car shows and advertising in the Newport Beach Independent.

Six owners showed off their classics that first Sunday. Now, nearly one hundred weekend car shows and 500 car owners later, an average of 60 to 80 cars each week pack the parking lot, their owners meandering amongst the wide variety of classics, ready to discuss with anyone who’ll listen—what else, car stuff.

x_MG_1592Car enthusiast Jim Mull shared that “some people here own 25 cars, some only one.  But at this show, everyone is equal.”

Among the frequent exhibitors is architect Frank Waite of Balboa Island, who stood like a proud parent next to his supercharged, small-block Chevy-powered 1932 Ford Roadster. Waite built this originally for the Oakland Roadster Show, where it took top honors. He alternates displays between his 1940 Ford, 1968 Chevy El Camino, 1955 Chevy pickup, and British 1948 Anglia.   Waite for years was a national champion in flat bottom boat competition, and raced in Florida, Washington, Colorado and California.

On a recent Sunday, custom car builder Mark Stead of Big Shed Customs without a doubt claimed the new title ofx_MG_1492 “Exhibitor Who Traveled Farthest to Show Off His Creation.”

Stead hails from Blenhem, New Zealand (a town on the northern tip of the South Island).

Unique in design, Stead’s truck can best be described as difficult to describe. This “Best of Show” (in New Zealand) original is a high-performance brute, powered by a 5.0 Mustang engine, and kept stabilized by C-4 Corvette suspension.

Stead is spending six weeks driving to car shows in Las Vegas, Scottsdale, Long Beach and Pleasanton, where he hopes to garner some take-home trophies. He took one home this day: Best of Show.

x_MG_1522Certainly the oldest car on display belongs to Dennis Holland: a 1909 Buick that Holland termed “priceless.” Holland does have it insured, but he wouldn’t reveal for how much.

In its heyday, the car raced from L.A. to Phoenix.  Holland’s father, Dennis, Sr., had raced it across the US five times, and in 1990 won his final race.

“The car has always been an Orange County resident,” Holland said.  “It was purchased in Santa Ana, then taken by the original owner to a blacksmith who turned it into a race car.”

Today, the only original things that you can buy for the car are the tires, and only one custom manufacturer can moldx_MG_1543 tires to original specs, Holland explained. When parts need replacement, Holland crafts them himself, a skill learned from his father.

When cranked over, the Buick ran smoothly and surprisingly quietly, with just a hint of blue exhaust announcing its vintage. She’s obviously pampered.

After a 50-year absence from Newport Beach, car-racer and aficionado Richard Langston returned and found himself drawn almost immediately to the Balboa Car Show, where he parked his Model T “Woody” next to the one owned by Balboa Car Show host Ford.

x_MG_1539“I love this show…I love it!” he exclaimed. Like most of the people there, Langston knows cars and car racing. Proof rests in the history books, as well as on the front of the T-shirt he was wearing. In 1993, Langston out-powered perpetual racing legend Big Daddy Don Garlits to take the winner’s trophy in a top-fuel showdown in Ohio.

But then, just about every one there on Sunday enjoys a unique and successful personal or professional history in one way or another.

For more information about the show, visit BalboaCarShow.com or contact Marcel Ford at [email protected]

Contact the writer: [email protected]


Share this: