Cars ready to roll for GN Autofest

Matt Kiernan

More than 100 cars will be on display along Middle Neck Road next month as part of the Village of Great Neck Plaza’s 22nd annual AutoFest and Street Festival.

Car enthusiasts seeking a show with an array of sleek, vintage automobiles will get a chance to lay their eyes on some of Long Island’s most elegant vehicles during the AutoFest festivities that are scheduled for Sept. 9, Village of Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District Vice President Jay Corn said.

“It’s not just a car show, it’s something for everyone,” he said.

The AutoFest and Street Festival runs from noon to 5 p.m., with some cars available for view as early as 8 a.m. during the festival’s setup period, Corn said. 

The variety of car models are expected to range from early 20th century to as recent as the last decade. 

The festival will also include carnival rides, games, food and live entertainment.

“I like the unusual cars,” said the Town of North Hempstead’s official historian. Howard Kroplick, who is an owner of two rare cars to be featured in the show.

Headlining the auto show, Kroplick’s one-of-a-kind 1937 Chrysler Imperial town car and 1909 Alco-6 racer are sure to turn some heads.

Built specifically for his wife Della’s personal use, automobile manufacturer Walter Chrysler’s 1937 town car is more than 19 feet long, and until this year, was in storage at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport. 

Kroplick said he seized the opportunity to purchase the car in January at an auction, due to the automobile not fitting in well enough with the museum’s other pieces.

“It’s really Chrysler’s return home,” said Kroplick, referring to the Chrysler estate in the Village of Kings Point.

Kroplick said the Chrysler Imperial is like no other car a person will ever see, and those who do view it, can’t help but stare at it.

The Alco-6 racer, or “Black Beast,” won the Vanderbilt Cup, one of the first major American auto racing trophies, in 1909 and 1910. Families will be able to sit in the front seat of the classic car during the AutoFest to get a feel for the historical vehicle and have their pictures taken in it.

Both the Imperial and Alco-6 will have their engines started every half hour for attendees to hear what they sound like, according to Kroplick.

Specialty and reproduction cars are also being accepted into the show, Corn said. 

While they can be new, Corn said reproduction cars on display are usually of vehicles that were in small production or hardly seen anymore, such as a 1955 Ford Thunderbird.

Corn said that while the BID isn’t promoting the sale of cars, vehicle owners at the show can negotiate prices with potential buyers if they like.

Great Neck Plaza’s BID directors have made sure that even if a visitor isn’t passionate about cars, they will have a great time, Corn said.

Four bands are scheduled to perform at the show, with the Meade Brothers band as the main act. 

Elvis impersonators, magicians and food vendors will also be out in full force.

For children, a merry-go-round, rock climbing walls and face painting will be available on Grace Avenue and Bond Street.

Drawing people from as far as Connecticut and New Jersey, Corn said the show is a very big deal. 

The festival can bring as many as 30,000 people looking to spend a day in Great Neck, Corn said.

“It’s a great reception in Great Neck,” he said, adding that donations at the festival will likely cover some of the event’s costs, but not all of them.

The Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District, an association of commercial businesses, merchants and town officials, works to promote a positive business atmosphere in Great Neck Plaza.

Those interested in registering a car to display in the show should call Maria Coscia, event coordinator for the BID, at 829-1301. Costs are $15 for pre-registration, and $30 the day of AutoFest.

“It’s a family event,” said Coscia. “It brings families and the community together.”

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Matt Kiernan

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