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Cold weather doesn’t run off car enthusiasts

How cold was it Saturday in Grass Valley?

Cold enough for Jim Tallarico of Danville to abandon his sidewalk seat on Main Street for the front-seat warmth of his 1957 Cadillac El Dorado Seville.



Neither damp nor wind stopped Tallarico and “about 297” old car enthusiasts who brought their antique and old cars to the 17th annual Grass Valley Car Show, said Howard Levine of the Downtown Business Association.




Your father’s Oldsmobile might have been parked along Mill and Main streets, possibly next to the 1923 Ford Model T bucket redone as a purple street rod with etched glass side windows, the 1956 Mercury Montclair Phaeton, or near the 1964 Austin Powers-ish Austin Mini with a black-and-white checkerboard on the roof.

Hundreds of people thronged the streets, surmised Mark Economou of Chicago Park, “because we all drove these cars.” Economou spotted a 1962 Chevy Impala and a Chevy Malibu like the ones he used to own.

But 14-year-old James Hernandez, who is still too young to drive, yearns to own a Ford Mustang. He spent a year researching hot rods for a year-long school project at Yuba River Charter School and his enthusiasm earned him a perfect grade.

Should Hernandez ever get his old Mustang, his research skills will get more of a workout.

More than 10 years before Hernandez was born, Bob Mayer found a decrepit 1948 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet in a barn in rural Virginia. He and his brother towed the car to California because “California craftsmen are better at restoring cars.”

Mayer, who divides his time between Grass Valley and Rockville, Md., made “about a thousand phone calls” and used “about 50 suppliers” to reconstruct the car to its former glory.

The car’s radio is from Texas, the clock from Illinois, the fender skirts from Oregon and the electronics from Rhode Island.

“It took me years,” Mayer said.

Ron Betrez of Grass Valley “put about 20 coats” of Marquis color on the car, the distinctive “Lincoln maroon.”

A Placerville man installed the special leather, the same kind used in Rolls Royces. “The smell when you close it up is just heavenly,” Mayer said.

But now, 25 years after his original purchase, Mayer said the vintage car is “as good as it looks.”

Some people attending the car show bought antiques without wheels. The Antique Palace on East Main Street did a brisk business as people came in to escape the cold, said Linnea Kasbab, a clerk at the store.

“We’re having a good day,” she noted.


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