AutoMatters & More: National City Automobile Heritage Day Festival & Car Show


Classic car shows often trigger memories from our lives – memories that are associated with cars. In mid-August the 26th Annual National City Automobile Heritage Day Festival and Car Show exhibited a wide-ranging assortment of over 200 cars and trucks, making it likely that people would see some that were memorable to them.

On display were vintage vehicles from the early 20th century to the latest hybrid and electric cars, and everything in between, including cars with huge tailfins from the ‘50s, lowriders, muscle cars, pickup trucks, sportscars, hot rods, a fire truck and one-of-a-kind vehicles, such as a Honda CVCC made up of two front ends attached together (its California license plate appropriately read “2FACED”).

One car that brought back especially fond memories for me was a bright yellow Dodge Demon Super Bee from the early ‘70s, displayed in La Carrera Panamericana 2017 livery.

My first car was the similar 1970 Plymouth Duster 340, painted “arrest me red.” A 4-barrel carburetor fed its thirsty V-8 – perfect for a 16-year-old, don’t you think?

The Demon/Duster duo were among the first cars to feature vent-free front side windows, but unfortunately Chrysler had not yet replaced the efficient, pivoting vent windows with in-dash, face-level ventilation. Instead, as I recall, there were two large black boxes under the dash that fed air into the interior, too low to cool one’s face. Added to that, my car’s black vinyl, slab-faced seats, which were burning hot in the summer and icy cold in the winter, made for some pretty uncomfortable driving. Nevertheless, thanks to all that tire-smoking brute horsepower available on demand, my car’s lack of creature comforts was easy to overlook. And then there was the trunk. It was massive.

That car was wicked quick in a straight line, but with its bias-belted Goodyear Polyglass tires and a pretty archaic suspension system and brakes, it did not handle very well. Perhaps as a result, mine ended up in a fence once – ouch!

Speaking of Goodyear tires, the turn of the century, 1915 Monroe was fitted with 30x3 Goodyear Clinchers mounted on wooden wheels with hickory spokes. Yes these tires were skinny, but with the car’s four-cylinder engine rated at only 20 horsepower, they got the job done. The Monroe was light, with a shipping weight of only 1,325 pounds. Its top speed was fifty miles per hour. Fuel economy was 30 miles per gallon. It was built in Flint, Michigan and sold for $460.

One of the earliest and most rare cars on display was a 1913 “Baby” or Bebe Peugeot. This tiny car was designed by Ettore Bugatti to be affordable transportation – completely opposite from modern Bugatti supercars.

Based on a Ford F-550 Super Duty, a heavily armored National City Police Department truck had what looked like eyebrows taken from a Batmobile, over its split front windshield.

This show had a great location at the foot of a large outdoor amphitheater, which provided a panoramic view of the automobiles on display in National City’s Kimball Park.

Other things to check out included live music performances; food vendors; commercial, National Guard and law enforcement exhibits; and more.

This event was especially family friendly. A kid-sized train meandered around the show, providing its passengers with a free and effortless look at the vehicles that they could later walk over to and examine more closely.

Kids got to exercise their artistic abilities by painting a Cadillac with ARTS, National City’s arts program for youth, offering free after-school classes.

The show was free for spectators, thanks to the generous support of the County of San Diego, the National City Mile of Cars and Pasha Automotive Services.

National City has a long association with the automobile industry in San Diego County. The first automobile was purchased in National City in 1904, and National City’s Mile of Cars has been serving San Diego and Tijuana for over 60 years.

Pasha Automotive Services processes automobiles from Asia, Europe and Central America at the Port of San Diego’s National City Marine Terminal – the primary port of entry for one out of every ten new foreign cars shipped to the United States. Brands imported include Audi, Bentley, Honda, Isuzu, Mazda, Lotus, Mitsubishi Fuso, Porsche, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Kia (for more information, see AutoMatters & More #490).

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Copyright © 2017 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #504