Q & A: Organizer says auto show will be heaven on wheels

Next Sunday, Tina Mangino will spend part of her weekend checking out hundreds of other cars, trucks

Categories: Life & Arts

Tina Mangino knows engines, dashboards and slick paint jobs.

As president of Mangino Chevrolet in Amsterdam and co-owner of Mangino Buick GMC in Ballston Spa, she sees cars and trucks every day.

Next Sunday, Mangino will spend part of her weekend checking out hundreds of other cars, trucks and motorcycles. Along with Steve Springer, Mangino is organizing the 11th annual “The Way We Were” car show in Wiswall Park and on Front Street in Ballston Spa.

The show, which begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m., is sponsored by the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association.

Q: How did the show start?

A: The idea actually was the brainchild of one of our [association] members, Ron Regels, who used to own an antique store in Ballston Spa. He loved the setting of the village and he kept telling me it would be a great place for a car show. He sought me out because I had the car dealership. He said he had a friend in Amsterdam, Wayne Wunuk, who organized car shows and if I would sometime take a little time out of my day to speak to him, maybe we could do something in Ballston Spa. So the first year, Wayne helped us organize the car show and we were very pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Our businesses loved it. Basically, the whole mission of the association is to promote retail growth in our business district, bring people to Ballston Spa to see what we have, so this tied in beautifully.

Q: How many cars do you expect?

A: We expect 500 cars. If the sun is out, we will get 500 cars. When we have a bright, nice day, the show fills up beautifully. Last year, we had an overcast day; they had called for a chance of showers late in the day and we had over 400 cars. You can preregister or you can just show up the day of the show.

Q: What kinds of cars will people see?

A: We’re an open show, so you will get anything from a car in the 1930s right on up to people displaying cars from 2013. This year, for the first time, we’re going to be doing a motorcycle cruise-in. We’ve had a lot of people ask us to include motorcycles in the show.

Q: What are the most popular cars?

A: It depends who you’re talking to. The muscle cars are one of our biggest divisions, although we have 13 different divisions that range from muscle cars, best stock, best import. We do classics, 1931 to 1959, classics 1960 to 1975. We have a separate category for our Corvettes and our Mustangs because we get a large number of cars in that group. There’s always a variety of cars and trucks to look at. You’re not going to see the same thing.

Q: Do you see many cars that people might remember from years ago, like the old AMC Rambler?

A: We have the old standards, the ’63 Ford Fairlane, the ’66 Ford Thunderbird, the ’55 T-bird. There’s just a wide variety. . . . We have the AMC Rambler, the Chevelles, the Mustangs and the GTOs. You’ll see a ’67 Plymouth Barracuda, a ’68 Pontiac Catalina. You will see cars that you may recognize from the famous movies. We have had vintage Model Ts, Packards, Bentleys, Aston Martins and Trans Ams.

Q: Why do people like checking out those old makes?

A: I think everybody has a memory of that car, whether it was their uncle’s or their father’s or their neighbor’s. Back in the day, the Chevelle may not have been the muscle car that it is today, but it was a car that somebody’s father or neighbor bought. We hear more stories throughout the day of people who owned something like this in the past or knew somebody who did.

Q: How about foreign models — like the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia?

A: We have an import category, we have had Lamborghinis, Porsches and Ferraris. We traditionally get the Triumph touring sedan. It’s wonderful to see it’s not just the domestic brands.

Q: How much time do people spend at the show?

A: We have families who come and spend the whole day there. We certainly provide a lot of things for people to do; there’s an area dedicated to the kids to keep them a little busy. We have vendors who come in who have car-related art, die-cast art, old car magazines.

With all of our businesses open that day along the show route, it is conceivable you could spend the whole day there. It would take you two hours to do the show if you were doing nothing else than to walk the show and look at all the cars.

Q: Do you see many outlandish paint jobs?

A: That is probably one of the best awards of the day, best paint. There are some really great cars out there that have some paint jobs, I can’t even imagine what they cost, but they’re beautiful. We’re seeing a lot more custom work where people aren’t just repainting the car a solid color, they’re doing some of the airbrush designs on them you would traditionally see on a motorcycle and maybe not on a car. You’ll see people really take creative freedom with it. It could be a skull and crossbones, it can be the traditional flame, I suppose anything that a car owner thinks of.

Q: Lake George has a big car gathering during the fall. Are there a lot of car shows in this area?

A: We are very fortunate, we have an area that does some big shows. The show you’re talking about is the Adirondack Nationals. It’s a huge show. I think our show is one of the last judged shows, where these cars are really judged and awarded trophies. Most of the bigger shows are just cruise-ins, where people come and display their cars.

Q: Why do Americans seem to have a love affair with motor vehicles?

A: You need a car. It gets you to work every day, it gets your kids to the doctor when they’re sick. We depend on our cars, and I think there is a fascination with cars. . . . Everybody has a memory of a certain car they can relate to.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected]

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