Annual car show parks itself in the heart of city

NEW BRITAIN — While car enthusiasts walked the seven blocks of downtown that were lined with classic cars dating back to the early 1900s, 3-year-old Stro Strahowski was having the time of his life with his father.

“He loves to see the big wheels, the fire trucks and the bright colors and stripes on the cars,” said Michael Strahowski, who moved to Bristol three weeks ago from Florida.

“The whole town came out today,” said Strahowski, a car buff himself who said New Britain put on a great show. “I enjoyed everybody who brings whatever car they bring down here. It’s fascinating for me to see what the creative mind can come up with.”

Strahowski, who has been building cars for 16 years, said, “Look down the street and there is nothing but history and generations of car enthusiasts. We have all makes and models and all kinds of people.” The classics on display during the Downtown District’s 8th annual car show ranged from a 1941 Chevy Coupe to a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, a 1955 Ford Rachero and even a rare 2014 Morgan — one of only 1,000 nationwide.

The weather did not disappoint as more than 1,000 people studied, admired and took pictures of the more than 200 classics on display.

Norm LaMadeleine, coordinator of Constitution State Classics, which ran the raffles, door prizes, trophies and judged the cars, called the show “one of the best we’ve ever had and we’ve been doing this since 1989. We have more Corvettes and Mustangs and vintage cars than ever before.”

While people milled around listening to music from the 1950s and 1960s and enjoying one of the 12 food vendors on hand, car owners were telling stories of their car to passerbys.

Bill Farrell, owner of two cars on display, said he got many questions on his cream-colored and red 1954 Packard Caribbean.

“A lot of people do not know what this car is, and those who do know it’s really very rare,” said Farrell, who noted only 400 were made.

“I grew up in the funeral business, and my dad had a Packard limousine that he drove the families in,” Farrell said. “Because of that, I always wanted a Packard.”

Gerry Amodio, Downtown District executive director, said the show was like “taking a step back in American history when American manufacturing ruled the world.”

Amodio, a city native, said coupled with the Oktoberfest the weekend before, New Britain’s downtown is on the rebound.

“Most communities our size only have one major event a year,” he said. “We had Oktoberfest, the car show and we’ll have the trick-or-treat safety zone next month and then the lighting of the tree. There is a lot to offer in New Britain.”

There were about 25 sponsors including TD Bank, Papa’s Dodge, the city of New Britain and the New Britain Herald. All proceeds go to benefit the New Britain Police Youth Explorers.

Robert Storace can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext. 223, or at

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