Car shows held at two locations this summer

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Classic Car Cruise Night, a Bloomfield summer staple on Wednesday evenings at Broad Street and Bloomfield Avenue, is moving uptown for the month of August. Still scheduled for Wednesday evenings, the new location is near the Clifton border at 1515 Broad St. in the parking lot of Universal Technical Institute.

The car show, ordinarily hosted by the Bloomfield Center Alliance, will be hosted at the new location by the Bloomfield Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department, with support from the Bloomfield Cruisers, a car club. For the last two years, the Cruisers have awarded a Bloomfield High School graduating senior with a scholarship to UTI and the relationship between the club and the school was a major factor in the move.

Each Wednesday Cruise Night at UTI will have a theme. Aug. 7 will be first responders night; on Aug. 14, there will be a tour of UTI facilities; on Aug. 21, there will be an exhibit of specialty vehicles; and on Aug. 28, the final event of the summer, a movie will be screened outdoors.

Ollyn Lettman, the BCA director, said in a telephone interview earlier this week that the parks department’s takeover of the car show would allow the BCA to focus its resources on expanding its summertime “Diner Under the Stars” events on Fridays in August. Washington Street is closed from 6 to 10 p.m. for that al fresco attraction.

“The Cruisers, working with UTI, had the opportunity to pick up the last few Wednesdays in August,” Lettman said. “But I definitely see it returning to the downtown for at least a few months next summer.”

At the car show on Wednesday, July 24, there was plenty to see.

Maplewood resident Bud Sisto was exhibiting his 1969 Jaguar, type E for the first time at a Bloomfield Cruise Night. He has had the car since 1994, when he paid $3,400 for it, and drove his Jag “as is” for 22 years.

“It needed a lot of work,” Sisto said. “It needed paint, burned oil and the engine was noisy. Hence, why it was cheap.”

In 2016, he received an inheritance and used it to restore the car, by his account, “98 percent.” The final cost was $20,000, including $4,000 for painting and $5,000 for rechroming. All pretty expensive, but he did save money on one item.

“I never had to rebuild the carburetor,” Sisto said. “I can’t believe it. The funny thing, you have to add transmission fluid to this carburetor.”

Dennis Ragucci, from Cedar Grove, was seated at the curb behind his huge 1960 Cadillac.

“It’s a series 62,” he said. “It’s the poor man’s Cadillac. Everything was an option. If you wanted air conditioning, power seats, anything, the price went up.”

Ragucci, who has owned the car for 12 years, purchased it from a friend for $20,000.

“He did a lot of the mechanics,” he said. “When I got it, it was ready to go.”

Ragucci had the car repainted and rechromed. The engine is a 390 and puts out about 300 horsepower.

Brian Dulack came from North Bergen with a 1961 Chevy Impala. He paid $7,000 for the car four years ago and has put another $10,000 into it.

“It has an all-new front end, brakes, calipers, rotors, drums,” he said. “The guy that had it didn’t take care of it. It’s my pride and joy.”

Under the hood, the Impala engine had been replaced by a 350 Caprice engine taken from a police car. A mirror-like surface attached to the inside of the hood, reflecting the engine beneath it, caught everyone’s eye.

Although the car show is moving, the BCA is not. The alliance is preparing to not only grow its “Dinner Under the Stars” events, but build on the success of its June 22 downtown restaurant tour. According to Lettman, another restaurant tour is planned for October, with the date and restaurant stops to be finalized.

“We had a full house of 25 people for the first tour,” he said.

With new restaurants opening in the area, including an Ethopian restaurant on Washington Street, Lettman said a tour is a good way to highlight Bloomfield’s growing culinary scene. 

And beginning tomorrow night, on Fridays, Aug. 2, 9, 16 and 23, a “pop up” art gallery will be installed at 78 Washington St., from 6 to 9 p.m. to coincide with “Dinner Under the Stars.” Hey, what’s not to like?

Photos by Daniel Jackovino