From bright candy red to sleek, foamy green, hard tops and convertibles and beyond — the R.A.V.E car show returned for its 40th event in Rutland last weekend, to a wave of gear heads and car buffs from across New England who gathered at the Vermont State Fair Grounds to see the hot wheels glisten.
Around 175 cars, everything from the Model A to a Corvette on stilts, made an appearance on both Saturday and Sunday, and families milled around sparkling specimens of the best-kept cars across the counties, munching on slices of hot pizza and fresh pulled pork as enthusiasts took photos of their favorites and examined the motors inside them.
Third-year President Sean Barrett said the idea to bring antique automobiles and restored vehicles to put on display originated back in 1979 with car enthusiasts in the Rutland area who eventually gathered to form the Rutland Area Vehicle Enthusiasts, or R.A.V.E.
“The first show was in 1980,” Barrett said.
And after last year’s successful family event, Barrett said they started planning for this year’s show the very next day, planning the 40 top-pick awards and spectator awards awarded to over 175 cars come Sunday, Barrett said.
All profits from the festival go to local charities such as the Open Door Mission, Wit’s End, and local rescue squads, Barrett said.
“We try to cater to the local charities as much as we can,” Barrett said.
Cars come from all across New England, from Maine to Connecticut, and the eastern side of New York to bring their glittering Model As and Pontiac GTOs, and a Studebaker from 1969 this year, Barrett said.
“We’ve got a good mix right now,” Barrett said. “We got a lot of hot rods, v-rods, and a lot of custom vehicles, (The peoples’ favorite) changes year to year…”
But not all that glitters is gold…or old…around one of the first bends in the rows of cars with wide, bright chrome pipes glinting in the sun, one can make out what look like charcoal-colored tribal spears with long black tassels piercing the sky.
Peter Manship, owner of Manship designs in Ludlow, said he’s been obsessed with the post-apocalyptic and Mad-Max genres of film and art, and has made it his creative outlet to transform cars and motorcycles into automobiles of nuclear-fallout and zombie-apocalypse glory.
The kinds of cars you use to plow through zombies and escape gangs of anarchic desert pirates fighting over the remaining source of fresh water.
And so began the transformation of “Radioactive,” Manship’s 2001 Toyota Corolla into a rust-walled apocalypsemobile, complete with “real” human skull and bars over the glass windows to keep enemies out after they inevitably break his windshield.
“I restored everything on it, it’s like a new car,” Manship said. “It’s got a 40-millimeter lift kit in it that came from Europe (from its racing days).”
As he slowly added on his accessories — a giant “Nuka Cola” advertisement from the Fall Out video game to a ray-gun that Manship said would be able to, theoretically, “shoot every type of ray,” including both gamma and radio waves, as well as laser beams — Manship said he embraced every idea that came to him, honoring the often chaotic creative process.
In this theoretical wasteland, Manship said he would corner the market on nuclear medical waste and use it to power his post-nuclear death machines, which would don a coat of knitting needles- turned porcupine quills all over the car using magnets as an adhesive come Sunday, he said.
“This is the post apocalypse,” Manship said of his act. “And in a post-apocalyptic world, every knucklehead in the world builds a gas-burning fifty-caliber machine gun,” Manship said.
On top of his car, a small drawer held homemade zombie-fighting and hand-to-hand combat sickles, knives and custom round slicing blades on a stick that Manship makes himself alongside his jewelry-making business in Ludlow, to fight of zombies in hand-to-hand combat, if need be.
“I relish creativity,” Manship said. “It’s more important to me than money.”
Just up the grassy knoll towards the center of the festival was a BMW motorcycle…an accessible one, with help from Mobility Works, which also designs accessible vans.
Charlie Nassau said that back in 2010, he got three accessible motorcycles designed for those who may be in a wheelchair, and decided to fix one up for his dad.
“I had to put it all together,” Nassau said. “(It took) about a year.”
In March, Nassau said, he opened up his newest business, which focuses on trike-style motorcycles. His dad’s motorcycle has three wheels, a BMW torso, bright encapsulating walls and a paddle shifter, with a lowering ramp at the back.
“My dad is 85 years old, and last Sunday we put 100 miles on the bike,” Nassau said.
His next project, Nassau said, would be to create the same thing on an Indian, and he has a custom model for sale for $20,000, he said.
“I love Harleys, but the Indian is just a better design for the trike-setup,” Nassau said. “We’re working on a prototype right now that’s taken away a lot of the things I don’t like about this…it was too high, too hard for him to get up by himself…so I’m building a new air suspension system that allows him to get in lower to the ground…it won’t have as many electronics…more old-school styling.”
The problem he most ran into throughout the projects is getting insurance, because endorsing accessible motorcycle riding is considered too big of a risk.
But as far as affiliations go, anyone with connections to Stafford Technical Center should be very proud: the Stafford Automotive Technology Program presented their racer, with a 350 engine and a coat of shiny crimson, nearly finished, at this year’s show.
“We’re hooking up the last of our power-steering and our ignition system,” said Program Director James Woodward. “And she is basically race ready.”
Everything is in the car, but they didn’t quite have time to hook up the fuel hose to the fuel cell, so while she sparkled rosy in the sun she remained flightless.
Thursday evening, Outreach Coordinator Cindy Dunigan, who has been helping the students throughout their process, helped them put their logos on their almost-finished project: “74,” in honor of Stafford’s first year in operation, Woodward said.
“It feels good to actually be able to see it,” recently graduated senior David Mills said. “(This) is going to be a part of Stafford for a long time.”
But the cherry-red racer didn’t have a name yet, Woodward said, and though he personally liked the name “Betty,” for a car, Mills suggested another.
“Probably Steffanie,” Mills said pointing to the corresponding double “f” and “St” in front of the name.
“Not a bad name,” Woodward said. “I like Steffanie.”