Even if you’re not into the whole car thing, the Buffalo Motorama is a sight for sore eyes.
Sparkling paint jobs in every color of the rainbow, polished chrome and spotless windows. The visual respite from the dreary, sepia-toned days of early spring is in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, where the three-day show opened Friday afternoon.
Muscle cars, hot rods and classics, as well as motorcycles, are among the more than 200 vehicles on display. And it’s not just for guys.
A “Women’s Oasis” – dozens of vendors offering products and services, and costumed movie characters to entertain children - also is part of the show.
“I don’t want just the car guys coming,” said Joe Haniszewski Jr., who has produced the show for the past five years. “It’s a family event.”
There’s a display of Edsels in the lobby, where their proud owners were doing some last-minute buffing and shining before the show opened Friday.
“Drove it home from Iowa in 2003 – just before I retired,” said Jay Young, a retired Buffalo police detective who is displaying his 1959 Edsel Ranger. “Gave me no problems. Eight hundred miles across six states.”
Young said he has about 14 cars. And, like many car hobbyists, he drives them to shows.
“I’ve had it to Cleveland; I’ve had it to Detroit,” Young said of his Edsel on display.
On the ground floor of the convention center, one room highlights “open wheel” vehicles – in which the wheels are outside of the main body – and another features “modern muscle” cars and bikes.
Cliff Niethe, a retired auto mechanic, is displaying an open-wheel vehicle: a 1929 Ford Model A Roadster pickup, rebuilt in 1950s style.
“I built it myself,” Niethe said. “This is the first time it’s been out of my garage since I started it.”
“It’s a lot of fun and it keeps me out of trouble,” he said.
A variety of cars are displayed on the second floor of the convention center. “This is the eye candy up here,” Haniszewski said, riding the escalator upstairs.
Anyone who’s ever watched “Ghostbusters” movies, “Scooby-Doo” cartoons or the “Starsky and Hutch” television series will recognize replicas of their signature vehicles.
Some cars, including a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle, are perched off the ground, with mirrors placed on the floor to offer views of their spotless undercarriages.
Family collections are on display, including the cars of the Masullo and Smukall families of Buffalo, and cars owned by Haniszewski, his uncle and a cousin. There’s also a fleet representing Rods & Customs of Buffalo, an independent club.
A feature of the show is appearances by Jeff Lutz of Lutz Race Cars, who won HOT ROD Drag Week 2014, and two of his 1957 Chevys.
In addition to the car shows, collectors and hobbyists also see each other frequently at local cruise nights. The encounters never get old, Haniszewski said.
“They just want to show off,” he said. “This is like their kid that’s the top scorer in hockey.”