When Derek Bryan goes to car shows he looks for muscle cars from the 1960s and relives fond memories from his youth.
“That’s what I grew up with. That’s what I remember my dad and all my uncles having,” the Rotterdam resident said. “My father owned a gas station and my uncle owned a body shop and painted cars.”
On Saturday, Bryan was in his glory at the first Ugly Car Contest at Nott Terrace in downtown Schenectady, sponsored by the city’s Kiwanis Club. Promoted as an event that was “not just ugly [and] not just cars,” there were a few dozen cars on display that all seemed likely to tie for last in the Ugliest Car category.
Bryan was drawn to a muscle car that he felt stood out from the rest. He circled the vehicle with a cider doughnut in his hand, and checked out the goods beneath the open hood. “It’s different,” he said. “It’s just a nice car.”
Like many of the other people in attendance, Bryan also fools around with cars on the side. He said that cars have remained a fun after-work escape because he didn’t follow his family and go into the car business. “I don’t work with the cars, which makes it enjoyable for me to do it as a hobby.”
The hobby is still interesting after a lifetime of driving for the 73-year-old Ronald Tousignant, of Cohoes, who had his 1992 Dodge Stealth on display. “I used to tear them apart faster than you can buy them,” he said.
Tousignant purchased the car for $4,000 after he negotiated 20 percent off the price and said that it is kind of rare to find this model. “Not too many of them around,” he said, “because the kids smash them all up.”
This could have been the case with Tousignant’s car on the first day he bought it, when a trip on Route 787 got slightly out of hand. He had been driving along at 55 miles per hour, but failed to notice that a racing feature of the car had been put into gear. “When I looked up I was doing over 100,” he said.
The car caught the eye of Anthony Williams, of Albany, who had stumbled on the event when driving by. “Horses” were what made him stop and check out the car, which impressed Williams because it was a domestic vehicle.
Heart and soul
“I like imports,” he said. “I have to give it credit. I don’t see too many American cars that I actually like.”
Williams added that the car appealed to him because it had a personality. “Somebody put their heart and soul into that car,” he said.
Parked in lawn chairs between their two cars were Paul O’Dell and Virginia O’Dell, of Schenectady, who knew just how to have a good time at a car show. “We’ve got our soda, water, grapes and chips,” said Virginia, as she motioned to the cooler and small table in between them.
The two cars had dissimilar frames, but shared an orange paint job, a spider and spider web decal on the sides, tinted window and skull ornaments on a window. The skulls were an addition for Paul.
“I’m a skull nut,” he said. “That’s just a part of me. I like skulls.”
The pair both liked the event, which they said had the misfortune of competing with a number of other shows. Virginia said, “I think it’s nice. More people should know about it.”
This was the sentiment of Derek Bryan, who commented on the location and the quality of the parking, which he said people are always looking for.
The Kiwanis Club was hoping to raise $10,000 through the event for their youth services programs and Mothers Against Drunk Driving programs in area schools.
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