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November 7th, 2007

Story and photos by Brandy Elitch

Paul Wilson, from Waldwick, NJ. had a sign at his space: “Fifty Years At Hershey.” I asked him how this could be true as he didn’t look that old, and he responded that he was eighty years old. Can you imagine setting up a swap meet space every year for fifty years? Paul told me the first meets were in the old stadium, built in the 1920’s or 1930’s. Then, it outgrew the stadium, and the vendors moved outside, under the eaves. Then, the organizers stated that they needed that space in case of rain, so the vendors had to move to the east. Then the Hershey company, which is also responsible for the amusement park, wanted to put a roller coaster on the site, prompting the swap meet to move across the street to what was a private airstrip. Of course, it just grew from there.

Over the last couple of years, the layout has been completely changed. The notorious “Hershey Mud,” in evidence when there was a sudden downpour, is no more; everything is on a paved surface. Even the look of the meet has changed over the last forty years; the Hershey Company Amusement Park (100 years old this year) encroached on what was the site of the original meet but is no longer part of the meet landscape.

Each year, Paul Wilson moved, and now he was at the western-most end of the meet. I bought some Jaguar literature and a Series III shop manual, in perfect condition. That’s Hershey – you can find the most desirable stuff in the most improbable locations. And that is precisely why you should think about going there next year, even if your collection is Italian cars only.

As a disclaimer, I should say at the outset that there are virtually no Italian or French cars there. It is mostly about American cars. But most people who go to Hershey are looking for that elusive car or part. It is the thrill of the chase, and while French and Italian cars and parts may be there, you’ll have to look hard for them. That is what makes it worthwhile.

“The Greatest Car Collector Event in the World”
The official title of the Hershey meet is “Antique Automobile Club of America Eastern Division National Fall Meet.” The unofficial title is “The Greatest Car Collector Event In the World.” The title is deservedly long, when you consider that the meet is attended by upwards of a quarter of a million people, and if you were total up the rows in the swap meet, it would stretch for many miles. There are a thousand cars for sale in the Car Corral, and over a thousand cars are judged during the Saturday concours. There are thousands of vendors; the program listing, in 8 point type, is 24 pages. Even the volunteer staff numbers practically a thousand people. The AACA itself is a big club: sixty thousand members.

Attending Hershey is a tradition that can last a lifetime. One of the most interesting things about the Hershey meet is that people typically go for decades, if not longer, and they go with the same group of friends each year. This is all the more unusual because the attendees come from all over the US, and overseas, so the logistical needs are challenging. It is difficult to find a place to stay during Hershey Week.

“The Sweetest Place on Earth”
Traveling to see oceans of rusty fenders, it is easy to forget that most people come to Hershey for the chocolate, not the cars. At the dawn of the 20th century, Milton Hershey invented a milk chocolate that could be produced inexpensively, He succeeded and Hershey built a beautiful model town for this employees. Childless, he created the Milton S. Hershey school for orphaned boys.

In a very real sense, Hershey built what was in essence a Utopian community, taking tens of thousands of orphans and raising them to maturity. In the entire history of the US, it would be difficult to find an individual more compassionate, and who achieved more, than Milton Hershey. Along the way, he created a town (“The Sweetest Place on Earth”) and to this very day the profits from the Hershey Company go to take care of about eleven hundred orphans.

We leave you with a story of another Hershey regular, John Satterthwaite, from Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania. John has been creating fine art, with an automotive theme, for many years. He has an archive of hundreds of books and thousands of magazines, and is able to thus create an accurate image of just about any automotive subject. After decades of painting, John needed to move to an assisted living facility. He no longer had the space to perform his art, and to maintain his archive. This year, John had a farewell sale at Hershey, and disposed of his artwork. I was fortunate enough to buy an original watercolor. The work is so striking that even a non-car-person would be stopped in their tracks. Maybe this is the secret of great art. I bought it, tracking down my neighbor, Stan, from Sebastopol, California who was able to act as a mobile ATM, and then had to ship it back, as it was too big to take on the airplane. It will hang in my living room, and is a piece I will treasure for the rest of my life. .

Just your average Cord 810, needs light cosmetics.

Paul Newman's avatar in the movie "Cars", or, a Hudson Hornet.


This is a quarter midget, popular in the 1950s.

Ducati, slightly used.

A linup of Bantam Austins from the 1930s.

A train set big enough to be placed under the White House Christmas Tree.

Usually powered by a model airplane engine, these racers from the 50s were very nicely constructed.

Luxury station wagon--a 1956 Chrysler with all the trimmings.

Any ideas of what this might be? 1936 Chevy say our readers.

1947 Jaguar 3/5 liter saloon.

1960 Lincoln with the Ford Anglia style rear window.

Battle of the fins, with Buick's entry of that same year of the fins, 1959.

Earlier 1956 Buick Roadmaster convertible was more attractive.

We'd guess a Packard. Pre war Packards were top of the line automobiles.

A Nash by Pininfarina.

Probably the only Alfa at Hershey, but our correspondent found it.

The fluted hood should tell us something about this car, but we forget what.

You'll find everything at Hershey, including this, which defies a politically correct description.

Past Issues



Shell Historics at Moroso

CCCA Tour Part I

Classic Adelaide 2007

Mugello 2007 Part 2

Malta Vintage GP

Mugello 2007

This is Hershey

Coppa d'Oro 2007

Pebble Beach Tour

Carmel Concours

Oldtimer sideshows at the Ring

35th Oldtimer GP Nurburgring

Ferrari Concours in Maranello

Sestriere Rally 2007

Turin Concorso

Ferrari Days GB

Greenwich Concours

Mille Miglia 2007

Italian bikes at Half Moon Bay

Shell Historics at VIR

Italian Auto Moto Festival

Alfa Day GB

California Mille

Villa d'Este 2007 part II

Villa d'Este 2007 part I

Shell Historics at Infineon

Geneva take Two

Geneva take One

Paris Pot Pourri

Retro Italia 2007

Paris and Retro 2007

Cavallino 2007

Shell Historics, Moroso 2007

Detroit 2007


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