After taking a year off due to Covid, the long-running Vintage Motor Classic is cruising back into the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront.
Held in partnership with the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and adjacent to its downtown clubhouse, the 19th running of the Vintage Motor Classic (VMC) returns to South Straub Park Sunday, Feb. 6. The event features a myriad of classic vehicles dating from the turn of the 20th century until 1980, and new for this year is a display of exotic supercars.
Andy Evans, co-chair and field director for VMC, said the event grew exponentially in the 20 years since it began as a handful of cars parked along Central Avenue. The VMC now averages over 150 vehicles over 25 different categories.
“We cover everything from early vintage cars – we’ve had cars come from the late 1800s,” said Evans. “Right up to the 1979, 1980 era as well.”
Evans said the cars are categorized by age groups, with a large contingent representing the automotive golden age from the 1920s through the ’60s. Organizers further separate vehicles by their place of origin, and Evans said Britain is always well-represented. Evans said classic American muscle cars are perhaps the most popular, and the VMC created a special group for Corvettes, Mustangs and Thunderbirds due to the number of those vehicles that annually attend.
“Certainly, the 1950s era cars are the big hit, so classic Chevys – a lot of them are ordinary cars, and people rebuild them,” said Evans. “We have a 1927 Model A; we have cars as old as that regularly turn up to the show.”
Evans said the VMC draws anywhere from 150 to 300 vintage vehicles. Following a hiatus, and with Covid still looming in the background, Evans expects to showcase about 120 classic cars this year. Evans called this year’s new category “modern classics” and said luxury dealers and sponsors are bringing selections of their finest exotic cars for crowds to admire.
He expects 20 to 25 Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and Porsches in the Straub Park grass this year. Evans believes this year’s VMC will also set a new record for its most expensive car.
“If the guy who says he is going to turn up turns up, he has a one-off special car which is estimated at auction to be worth $14 million,” said Evans.
Evans said the VMC is not a concourse event, and judges do not “crawl over” the cars inspecting every little detail. Instead, attendees vote on their favorites, and he said value is not always an indicator of what cars win the people’s choice award.
Evans said the free event drew 6,000 people to the downtown waterfront in 2020, and that was before the new Pier opened. With nearby Pier and other activities drawing people to downtown, Evans expects at least 3,000 people to attend this year.
Evans said most of the cars that register for the VMC are driven there by their owners. They are not “trailer queens,” as he refers to the vehicles whose preferred mode of transportation is on the back of a truck. Most come from the Tampa Bay area, and he said a large contingent make the trip from Venice and Sarasota.
“Most of the cars are driven here, and they drive whatever distance, rain or shine,” said Evans. “These are people that are dedicated to the pastime, the hobby, restoring, rebuilding and enjoy running classic cars.”
The show has always supported local charities, he said, and this year the VMC is raising money for The Kind Mouse and The Louise Graham Foundation. People can donate when registering cars online, and there are fundraising activities throughout the event.
Registration for the event is open until Feb. 4. Those interested can register here.