LACONIA — The Lakes Region Rotary Club's first-ever car show proved a bigger hit than it's members anticipated, with 150 cars, pickup trucks and street rods showing up at the parking lot above the Weirs Beach Lobster Pound on Saturday.
''We were surprised. We only had 40 cars registered before Saturday and it was a really good turnout for us,'' said Jeff Graham, a club member who helped organize the show.
The event featured all kinds of classic cars and street rods and could have been characterized as a being something like a gathering of the good, the bad and the ugly.
The good were well-represented with the Best in Show award going to a 1957 Chevy Cameo pickup truck owned by John Noyes of Holderness and the People's Choice award going to a 1956 fiesta red 1956 Ford Thunderbird owned by Bill and Lois Porter of Franklin.
Both vehicles have been award winners in other car shows around the state. The Porters have owned the car for 18 years and spent five and a half years restoring it. Bill found the car in a field in Wilton where it had been rotting away for 20 years and, even though he had no experience in restoring cars, was able to bring it back to life, including even the original paint job.
The couple take it to cruise nights around the state and the T-Bird won an award at the Bow Rotary Car Show earlier this year.
Noyes said that he bought the Chevy Cameo in Kansas City 15 years ago.
''I drove it for a little bit and it handled like an old pickup truck, so I started to modify it some,'' said Noyes, who at one time owned Noyes Fiber in Belmont until he retired 12 years ago.
He said that he worked with John Barton of John's Corvette to modify the truck, putting in a new engine and new suspension.
The pickup truck has won numerous awards at car shows in recent years. He has two other cars, a 1967 Corvette and a 1965 Pontiac Boneville convertible, which he also takes to car shows.
''I always like older cars. Now I have more time to play with them,'' says Noyes.
The bad at the show was well represented as well, with one outstanding example being Tim Bartlett's ''Rat Rod'', a composite of many vehicle parts with a rustic and well-rusted International Harvest pickup truck front end and a Chevy S-10 frame.
''I shortened the body and pit a 383 Stroker engine and a 631 bower with twin 750 cube carburetors in it. It has a two-speed power glide transmission out of a Chevy Nova,'' says Bartlett.
Bartlett, who lives in Belmont and is the supervisor of buildings and grounds for the Gilford School District, said that he's always wanted to have a hot rod ever since he was at Laconia High School, where he graduated in 1972, and Tom Smithers had a 1932 Ford pickup which he drove to school.
''I wanted one, but couldn't afford it. Now I'm able to have one,'' said Bartlett, who says the ''Rat Rod'', designed to mimic hot rods from the 1940s but with an exaggerated style, is his second hot rod. The first one was built from an International Harvester pickup and he used the leftover parts for his second one.
''There are no rules. Just make them safe so you can drive them on the highway,'' said Bartlett.
The ugly at the car show was represented by a 1977 AMC Pacer Wagon owned by Peter Waugh of Center Ossipee, who is that town's recreation director.
''It's so ugly that my sons won't ride in it,'' says Waugh, who says that he had toyed with the idea of changing the Pacer's license plate, ''Ugly-1'' to ''Butt-Ugly.''
He said that he bought the Pacer, the second one that he owns, in 2009 and that is 100 percent original. ''It had 40,379 miles on it when I bought it,'' said noting that it is one of 60,000 Pacers built between 1977 and 1980.
Among the unusual features of the Pacer is a passenger side door which is four inches longer than the driver's side door.
But if Waugh likes ugly cars, you can say that his dad really loves them. After all, he owns not two, but eight of them.
The Good: People's Choice award went to a 1956 Fiesta Red 1956 Ford Thunderbird owned by Bill and Lois Porter of Franklin. (Ed Engler photo)
The Bad: Tim Bartlett of Belmont with his Rat Rod, which he fabricated with parts left over from a street rod he built several years ago. He used a Chevy S-10 frame, which he shortened, and the front end of an International Harvester pickup truck before adding a powerful 383 Stroker engine. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
The Ugly: Peter Waugh of Center Ossipee with his 1977 AMC Pacer Wagon, which sports an apt license plate ''Ugly-1''. He owns two Pacers and his father owns eight of he odd-looking vehicles. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)