NEWBURYPORT — A selection of exotic supercars will join antique and classic cars in taking over downtown when the 10th annual Cruisin’ The ’50s Car Show takes place Thursday.
The car show is presented by the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Arthur S. Page Insurance and will feature between 250 and 275 classic cars parked along State Street, Inn Street and in the Market Street bullnose and municipal parking lot on Harris Street.
Wes Pettengill has been organizing car shows for three decades and said most of the show cars come from the 1940s to the 1960s – with a few from the early 1970s – but a group of modern supercars such as Lamborghinis, McLarens and Maseratis will be parked in the Institution for Savings parking lot on Prospect Street.
“We’re talking about all the high-end supercars from $200,000 and up that have been there in the last five years and we have room for about a dozen in there,” Pettengill said.
More than 20 antique imports will be found on Inn Street, while three high-end cars are also expected to be on display on the Market Street bullnose.
Billy D and the Rockits will play in the parking lot behind Newburyport Bank from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and live music is also expected at the Market Street bullnose.
The car show is by invitation only and Pettengill is known to be a good curator.
“Newburyport is unique in that there is no other show in the area that does it by invitation only,” he said.
The free car show will take place between 5pm and 8pm, with the show cars expected to enter the town center at 3pm
“The best place in the house is the market square when they drive in. We like to call it “rolling art”. They check in on State Street and it’s really a car show in itself because you see every single car that’s in the show,” Pettengill said.
The vintage cars at the auto show will also feature a full spectrum of colors that Pettengill said you don’t see in today’s cars.
“There’s a lot of color and chrome and fins. Most of today’s cars are white, gray or black. If you look at some of the show cars, you’ll see pastel colors, salmon and pink. There is turquoise and every shade of the rainbow is in the show cars,” he said.
The Cruisin’ 50s Car Show started with just 90 cars in 2012, but most downtown restaurants ran out of food that night, according to Pettengill.
“They just couldn’t keep up with the demand and it’s never happened again,” he said.
The annual car show grew to bring between 12,000 and 16,000 visitors downtown each year before COVID-19, a number Pettengill said represented the largest annual crowd for a single event in the city.
“I’m not talking about a week-long event like Yankee Homecoming, but this is the largest crowd in Newburyport in one day,” he said.
Chamber of Commerce Marketing and Events Director Erin Duggan said the auto show should prove to be a boon for local businesses.
“Our restaurants tell us it’s the best night of their year,” she said.
The Amesbury Carriage Museum is also expected to attend the car show, and Pettengill said car owners who wish to be invited to the show can call him at 978-465-3140.
The car show also has a rain date scheduled for next Thursday, August 18th.
For more information on visit: https://business.newburyportchamber.org/events/details/cruisin-the-50s-car-show-2022-85715.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.