Car Aficionados Unite at The 2018 UC3 UConn Spring Show

The hype for the UC3 Spring Show 2018 began weeks ahead of the event, but in the days leading up to the April 15 show some feared rain would cause a postponement. With vendors and participants as far as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Maine already committed to the event, the UConn Car Club decided not to cancel.

Many enthusiasts took the weather forecast in stride and joked on social media about the cold, raw conditions expected for the Sunday gathering. Fortunately, the rain held off, but the temperature was near 30 degrees when factoring in the wind chill. Diehard drivers traveled with their crews from all over the state and across its borders to take in the sights and sounds of the show, which drew hundreds of spectators and participants. Some bundled up in winter gear while others shivered in their sweatshirts.

Connor Whitehead of Manchester, CT, noted that UConn is always his show opener. He’s used to driving in the mud, so the threat of rain was not a deterrent. He brought a 2000 Audi A6 Avant, which had a PES G2 supercharger kit, 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser snorkel kit, custom exhaust, and an Arnott coil spring conversion kit in the rear.

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Whitehead’s off-road vehicle wasn’t out of place at the show, which featured a variety of makes and models. The aim of the annual event is to “unite all automotive enthusiasts,” and it didn't disappoint. There were a range of imports, domestics, tuners, trucks and other vehicles scattered across the grass in no particular order. A Lamborghini wrapped in orange metallic drove in, drawing a flood of onlookers and amateur cameramen. A 1997 Lotus Espirit sat just yards away from a Ford Bronco. A lone Cadillac occupied a space on the farther edge of the show field, while a 1985 VW Vanagon stood out with Cocoa Beach surf stickers and a black and white disco dancefloor interior.

A Niche Obsession

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Like many participants, Brian Skorski of Suffield stayed in his car—a 1989 Audi 100 Wagon—to keep warm. He “saved it from the crusher” in Washington, D.C. It successfully made the six-hour drive to Connecticut, but the alternator blew and the timing belt crumbled following the trip. Skorski, a self-proclaimed Type 44 “preservationist,” joked that he’s the only person in the United States who’s on a mission to save front-wheel drive, non-turbo Audis. “I always see potential in stuff people don’t like,” he admitted.

He’s only owned the wagon since September, but he also has three Audi sedans (an ’89, ’90 and ’91). He’s owned 10 overall. Skorski is drawn to them because there aren’t many that are still around. He loves them even though they’re hard to maintain and parts are scarce. He’s constantly scouring eBay and often buys parts that he may need in the future. His co-pilot and very supportive wife pointed out that he’s purchased stuff from as far away as Latvia. And they both laughed when they recalled him spending $300 on a bunch of keys.

Skorski is doing his part to carry on a tradition that not many still embrace—loving the heck out of older cars and fixing them in his garage. “People want to buy things. They don’t want to build them,” he pointed out.

A Two-Decade Journey

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Oscar Ortiz of East Hartford was on his way to a racing event in New Jersey when it was cancelled. He stopped at UC3 instead. He brought his 1967 Euro Beetle, which he had drained of antifreeze because it was set to go on the track. But that wasn’t a problem. Ortiz simply towed it with his 1973 Beetle to get it started.

The VW enthusiast has had the 513-horsepower ‘67 for 19 years. He shipped it from Puerto Rico where he kept it in a basement-like spot beneath his house for 10 years while he worked on it with his sons, who slid underneath it to make repairs before the age of nine. Ortiz bought the ’73 three years ago (which had three previous owners but was never registered), making it his 13th Volkswagen.

Carrying On A Father’s Legacy

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Garron Marschall of Wolcott drove his 1990 G60 Corrado to the show after recently trading it for his 1989 Cabriolet. He was drawn to the fully functional active aero spoiler, which he said often stops working on these cars around 70,000 miles. He drove the Corrado from New York to Connecticut with a blown supercharger after he bought it.

He came to UC3 with his buddy Alex Vieira from Rocky Hill, who brought two 1992 SLC Corrados (a black one and a red one that was for sale). Vieira bought the black one in Florida because it had less rust. He said it resembled the 1992 G60 his dad had when he was growing up. Sadly, his father sold the car before he was old enough to drive it. Vieira is now doing his part to replicate the car he fondly recalls from childhood.

The U3 show field included a variety of vehicles—a Mercedes C36 AMG, Porsche 944, BMW M3, VW Fox wagon and a C6 Corvette, among others. Everywhere you looked was a different Honda, Saab, Volvo or Toyota. Every car at the show had a history, and everyone had a story to tell. While their taste in cars may have differed, their passion united them.

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Topics: Culture

About the Author: Noelle Talmon