Last year Joe Moryl traded in his pink, 1951 Ford convertible for a black one of the same make and model, but he wishes he hadn’t.
The black convertible has won Moryl 11 trophies from 12 car shows in the past year, but he still keeps a picture of the pink Ford with him.
“You don’t see them like that anymore,” said the 79-year-old from Rotterdam, pointing to the finned tail lights. “Now that was quality.”
Moryl entered the black Ford in the 9th annual “The Way We Were” Car Show in Ballston Spa on Sunday in the 1931 to 1959 Classic division. He has another car, a black, 1950 custom convertible Mercury with orange flames that he bought 14 years ago, but he chose to leave that one at home.
“The [Ford] is a new toy to me, so today I’m showing it off,” he said. “It’s done very well in shows since I’ve had it, so I’m a bit surprised.”
Over the years, Moryl has owned six “classic” cars. He started attending car shows in 1972. He considers himself a “car guy.”
“I’m just a lover of old cars,” he said. “I would have bought them even if there were no shows to go to and I’ll keep doing it for as long as possible.”
After local business owners were thinking up ideas to draw more people into the village, “The Way We Were” Car Show was started in 2002.
“It’s a play on words, since portions of the movie were filmed in front of the Medbery Inn,” explained organizer Ellen Mottola. The car show is now held each year on Front Street.
According to Mottola, the car show, hosted by the Ballston Spa Business & Professional Association, is now gaining notoriety.
Based on the money taken in from registration fees, event organizers believe more than 540 cars participated this year.
“That’s by and away the most cars we’ve ever had,” said Mottola.
The money earned goes toward funding for events like the Ballston Spa Film Festival and Concerts in the Park series, and village beautification projects put on by the BSBPA. Mottola believes the car show has turned into the organization’s largest and most profitable event.
“We’re starting to run out of room to put cars. They’ve been thinking of having it at the fairgrounds in the future, but the point is to get people downtown.”
There were 13 divisions with five awards in each. There were also awards and trophies for Best in Show, Best Import, President’s Choice, Best in Show Truck, Mayor’s Choice, Best Engine, Best Paint, Best Stock Vehicle, Oldest Vehicle and Farthest Distance Traveled.
Mike Getto, 24, of Ballston Spa, was showing his 2004 Silver Nissan 350z in the Tuner (or import) division. He spent nearly three years customizing the car and has put $25,000 into the project.
“I’ve always been into cars. I taught myself how to do everything,” he said. “I actually built my first car when I was 14.”
The Nissan is Getto’s second show car, but most likely isn’t his last. In the past eight years he has gone to more than 30 shows. He said he likes the environment and the people he’s met.
“What people can do with a car is amazing,” he said. “People like to see nice cars, and people with nice cars like to show them off.”
Mark Lapham of Stillwater agreed.
He brought his first restoration project, a 1980 pearl white Corvette, to compete against other Corvettes. It took him two years to finish and cost about $25,000, including the price of the car.
“I’ve just always wanted to try to restore a car myself,” said the 50-year-old. “It’s the first time I’ve ever painted a car.”
At his first show at the Curtis Lumber Car Show in July, he placed second. He has another show next weekend in Clifton Park. “It was a nice experience,” he said.
Mottola estimates nearly 2,000 people attended the show this year and there was plenty to hold their attention. Besides the cars, there was food, free concerts and art exhibits from the MoHu Arts Fest.
Four-year-old Hudson Seplowitz attended the car show on Sunday with his parents Betsy and Eric, and 7-month-old sister, Anna. He was hoping to see a hot rod, which he said he liked because they are loud “and can be fast.”
He got interested in cars because of the Disney movies “Cars” and “Cars 2.” He liked hot rods because he said one of the “bad guys” is one, though the character is actually a German car and not a hot rod.
“We have a liberal definition of hot rod,” joked his father.