ELIZABETHTON — A 1945 Dodge D-15, 1931 Chevrolet Apache, a 1934 Ford Coupe hot rod, a 1924 T-Truck and a 1994 Dodge Stealth with a fold-up flat-screen television screen and accompanying video game system in the back.
One of these things is not like the others, but that’s what makes Saturday’s Summer Spectacular Car Show, sponsored and hosted by Snap-on Tools, a special meeting place for local car enthusiasts. The event is a fundraiser for the Sycamore Shoals Hospital Foundation.
The car show offered an immense amount of variety for fans of new and old, and everything in between.
Carolyn Johnson and her husband, Dick, have been taking part in the car-show scene for quite a while, and she’s wasn’t ashamed to show off her favorite car at the 60-car event, all vying for one of the nine award-winning categories.
“You want to know my favorite car,” Johnson asked. “It’s my own car — a 1969 Cadillac.”
Johnson’s Cadillac was the only one of its kind at the competition. The couple brought another special vehicle with them, a 1969 Buick Riviera, but the collection doesn’t stop there.
Carolyn gave a list of vehicles she and her husband keep in pristine condition at their home in Elizabethton. They have a 1949 Ford, a 1953 Ford, a 1958 Buick Roadmaster, a 1964 Ford Galaxy, a 1988 Chevy pick up, and she semi-embarrassingly admits she loves driving her newer Chevy Tahoe.
The Johnson family’s collection covers many of the available car brands, and they don’t take part in the age old debate of “Chevy vs. Ford,” or a lack of appreciation for the other competing cars. This friendly sentiment rings true throughout the local car aficionados in the midst of a car-show competition, with each person just as excited to see and talk about other people’s cars as they are to show off their own.
With a University of Tennessee football game on TV Saturday afternoon, a folding chair behind the Dodge Stealth was a popular spot, giving credence to the idea of letting modern cars with modern modifications into the competition, even if only for football season purposes.
Dallas Birchfield, of Roan Mountain, owner of a black 1967 Chevy Camaro with broad white stripes down the length of the body, has been working on his car for four years. He said everything on his ride is original and it’s taken him that long to get the car into the impeccable shape it’s in today. He said his favorite part of the car show is seeing everyone else’s cars, and seeing something unique that he hasn’t seen before.
“I want to see different paint jobs, and talk to people and learn new ways to fix stuff,” Birchfield said. He has a 1967 Chevelle at home, a project he hopes he can complete in the near future.
The car show came together when Snap-on Tools was contacted by Sycamore Shoals to throw a fundraiser to benefit patients and families at the hospital. Snap-on’s human resource manager, Robin Allen, nearly planned out the entire event, which included food and drinks, raffles, door prizes, giveaways, and a 50/50 raffle. Sycamore Shoals was also present to give out health information and offer blood pressure checks.
Allen said her favorite part of the show has been seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they walk around and see the cars.
Judges from Snap-on went around to pick the winners in each category, but the top award, the People’s Choice award, is picked by the crowds. Each car has a bucket in front of it, and guests are to put money in the buckets of their favorite cars. After the competition, the bucket with the most money in it is the winner.
As fortune had it, this year the people selected Birchfield’s Camaro as their choice.
He attributed the win to keeping the car original, which he says typically pleases judges.
“There are so many great cars here,” Birchfield said. “When you win something, you know you deserve it.”