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Giant Auburn car show not always about being pretty

Cars with character have their aficionados
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Friday’s Auburn Cruise Nite brought out the shiny gems of California car culture, with plenty of custom paint jobs and interior work to draw ‘oohs’ and ‘awws.’

But the not-so-perfect perfection of a minority of vehicles was also creating some major excitement as the Downtown Auburn summer homage to pre-1972 automobiles drew a crowd of more than 1,000.

Mixed in with the 200 or so vehicles on display along Lincoln Way were autos that had not been given the once-over and transformed into a shiny state of glamourous perfection.

Instead, the rust on the exterior and the wear on the seats of some cars was expressing a different attitude toward beauty.

And when Newcastle’s Erik Barrett fired up his not-so-glamorous 1925 Mack freight hauler and the four cylinders started purring in the warm evening air, an appreciative crowd gathered quickly around the big green behemoth from another time parked at the Clock Tower.

“Its top speed is 18 miles an hour,” Barrett said. “I hauled it here on a trailer and parked it at Auburn Iron Works this morning. Then I brought it over in the afternoon and it still took me five minutes to drive it down here.”

The vehicle had been parked outside in Penryn for 30 years and Barrett bought it six months ago.

“It’s the first time its been anywhere since the 1980s,” Barrett said.

Up Lincoln Way, more cars with some mileage on their paint jobs and interiors as well as the odometer could be spotted among the sheen of engines and polished chrome trim.

Ryan Kelly’s 1967 Volkswagen Bug had its share of orange rust swirls complementing a turquoise paint job covering parts of the original white.

“Everyone has their thoughts on what beauty is,” Kelly said. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Bob Kennedy, Cruise Nite chairman, said that the less-than-pristine vehicles are what he tells people make up a welcome component of the monthly event.

“We want people who drive their cars - primer spots, body work, it’s all part of Cruise Nite,” Kennedy said.

Next Cruise Nite is Aug. 10. Admission is free and Lincoln Way is closed to traffic from Elm Avenue to the Clock Tower.