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Auto enthusiasts brave 102-degree day to enjoy Newtown Car Show

by Stewart Gross

Cars from 1920 through 1994 lined a closed down State Road in Newtown Borough on a scorching sunny day on July 21st for the annual Antique and Classic Car Show.  The NBA car show began in the mid 1970’s and was founded by former board president, Dave Krewson.

As Newtown Business Association car show organizer, Jerry Couch, quipped, “Emphasis on the sunny.”

Several hundred people braved one of the hottest days in Pennsylvania history, to see some of the area’s most beautifully restored antique and classic cars that could have beaten anybody in a dead “heat” in their day.

State Street was closed off from Central Avenue to Jefferson Street and lined with a colorful array of antique and classic cars.

This year’s winner as “best-in-show” was Steve Thorne’s 1934 black Packard.

Steve, who owns 20 classic and antique cars, bought his Packard a mere eight months ago from an owner in Florida, who sold it as part of administering his late father’s estate.

This was not the typical story at the Newtown car show, as most owners excitedly shared their stories of three-year restorations (many off frame) using original parts, to bring their cherished autos back to mint condition.

Steve, who is a 40-year resident of Newtown, notes that his Packard is one of only six in the entire world!

And, his is the only coupe version in existence, complete with a rumble seat.

This year’s featured car was the Lincoln.

Jerry Couch says that Lincolns were chosen, since they are a piece of Americana.

They were built in Detroit, and were the US’s answer to Europe’s luxury cars, such as the Mercedes.

This marked a continuation of last year’s theme, when the Cadillac was the featured U.S. luxury auto.

Detroit was proud that they were able to compete with Europe’s best when General Motors and Ford first rolled these vehicles out.                        

Jerry has sat on the NBA board for the past six years, co-organized the show last year and soloed at it this year.

It was no easy task for the Vietnam Cavalry veteran.

It took Mr. Couch two to three months to organize the show.

This included getting sponsors, fielding registrations from car owners, mapping out where different model cars would be displayed on State Street, and mapping locations for business tents, and hiring event staff. Jerry also had to coordinate with borough police, who needed to shut down State Street and reroute traffic.

There were three classic Lincolns displayed in the featured car section adjacent to the municipal building.

One of the owner’s, Carl Villone, is the Director of the Philadelphia Region Lincoln and Continental Owner’s Club.

He proudly displayed his black 1978, Continental Mark V. 

It was especially built back in ‘78 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee 75th anniversary of Ford Motors. Villone’s Mark V was selected as the winner for the marque Lincoln Cars on display at the show.

His two friends, Tony Russo and Lee Caleen, displayed their Lincolns, both of which they acquired in the 1990’s. Caleen is the Membership Chairman for the Philadelphia Region Lincoln and Continental Owner’s Club. Tony Russo’s Lincoln was a ‘54 Capri, painted in its original Canterbury (mint) Green, or as he described the color, “the quintessential color of the 50’s.”

The show also featured sections of sports and foreign cars, and fans ducked in and out of the local restaurants and taverns for a well-deserved air conditioning break.

The main information tent was stationed directly in front of the borough municipal building, where the trophy presentation was held.

The show was shortened by an hour due to the extreme heat, with owners and fans taking refuge in the shade of a tree across the street from the trophy table during the award ceremony.

Although car fans could see some beautiful Jaguars, MGs, Mercedes Benz, Ferrari’s, Mustangs, Pontiac GTO’s, Chevy Camaro’s, Corvette Stingrays, and other classics, it was Lincoln who sat in the driver’s seat for this show, and a Packard that was crowned champion.

PHOTO CAPS: 1. Jerry Couch (right) awards the “Best-In-Show” trophy to Steve Thorne.

2. Steve Thorne’s ’34 Packard.