Erie Auto Show features new vehicles, classics, replica stock cars

About 170 new models from 26 Erie-area dealers are crammed inside the Bayfront Convention Center this weekend.

Millcreek Township residents Carole Lansberry, 61, and her husband, Rick, 62, spent Friday afternoon checking out a multitude of 2018 mid-size SUV models as a potential replacement for Carole’s 5-year-old Chevy Traverse.

About 170 new models from 26 Erie-area dealers are crammed inside the Bayfront Convention Center this weekend at the annual Erie Auto Show, which began on Thursday and concludes Sunday.

“Being able to come here and see a variety of vehicles under one roof at one time is very convenient,” Carole Lansberry said. “It is well organized and there’s plenty of room to walk around.  I haven’t seen one yet that I’ve sold myself on, but we’re still here. If we find something we like, we’ll probably go to the dealership because we’d like to take it out on the road and try it.”

As the couple looked at Chevy models, Fords and Subarus, Carole Lansberry pointed out another important aspect of her car shopping experience.

“I’m looking and he’s financing,” she said laughing.

“That sounds familiar,” Rick Lansberry added.

About 2,000 showgoers attended the opening day of the four-day event on Thursday, and crowds on Friday were steady throughout the afternoon, according to show organizer Mark Concilla, president of Erie Promotions & Expos.

“Thursday’s opening was probably one of the best openings we had,” Concilla said. “Talking to the dealers, there is a lot of genuine interest. The economy definitely helps, even though I know (Friday) on the stock market wasn’t very good. We expect a lot of families and kids will visit this weekend.”

The Erie Auto Show continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $ 5. Children 10 and younger are admitted free.

Some attendees at Friday’s show flocked to an exhibit titled ” A Tribute To the Legends of Stock Racing,” featuring replica street-legal NASCAR stock cars of former NASCAR drivers Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and Dave Marcis.

The replicas were built and are owned by members of the Street Legal Stock Car Tributes Club, which formed in 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina, with four members, but now boats more than 750 members nationwide.

Dan Howe, 52, of New Hampton, Iowa, brought his Dave Marcis replica stock car to Erie.

“When we take these cars out, and they’re street legal, when you pull into a gas station or a restaurant, people just flock to you,” Howe said. “It’s got the sound, it’s got the look. You see my daughter get out of the back seat and my wife gets out of the passenger seat, and everybody just congregates to you. When we get a dozen of these cars in one spot, we stop traffic, people fall off the sidewalks, they’re leaning out their car, not even driving anymore, with both hands on their cell phones taking pictures. We’re a disruption. It’s a hoot of a time.”

 Club members build and own replicas of mostly older NASCAR stock cars and show them off at auto shows and other events.

“We met on the internet and formed our club three years ago,” said Preacher Franklin, 71, a resident of Smyrna, Tennessee, who has built and owns six Darrell Waltrip replica cars. “A lot of people all over the country are hearing about this and they want to join our little club.

“I hope the folks who see these race cars up here will remember the drivers back in the old days when racing was really racing, and, hopefully, that some of them will get enthused and want to build a car like us and join our club,” Franklin said. “There’s nothing like 10 or 12 of these on the interstate following each other.”

About 25 classic cars also are on display.

“The main draw always is the classic cars,” Concilla said. “That gets the most eye balls on it.”

Children attending the show found their way to a golf cart replica of Mater from the animated movie, “Cars.” For a $ 5 fee, children can have their photo taken on the cart.

Another featured display vehicle is the Mitsubishi “Re-Model A,” a custom-designed reconfiguration and reimagination of a 1917 Model A frame packed with the latest 2018 technology. It was on display at the Philadelphia Auto Show last weekend.

“They took an original car and took today’s technology and re-imagined what the car would be like,” said Joe Bizzarro, owner of the Interstate Mitsubishi and Interstate Nissan dealerships.  “The body is customized and different from what your original Model A car would look like. This car has four-wheel drive, it has forward mitigation braking, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and select all-wheel control. The technology on this car is what you would see today in a Mitsubishi.”

Ron Leonardi can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail. Follow him on twitter at www.Twitter.com/ETNLeonardi.

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