Hot August Nights 2021

It has been a while since I posted. Covid19 seems to not want to let us go. This is the first event I have gone to because I felt safe. People adhered to the required rules so that a fun time could be had by all.

On the evening of August 1, 1986, a tradition was born in Reno. Looking for a way to bridge the gap in tourism, the Reno-Sparks Convention Center hosted a nostalgia dance concert featuring famed radio DJ Wolfman Jack with acts like Jan & Dean and the Righteous Brothers. The convention center was bursting with 10,000 guests. But the center got more than they bargained for. The concert goers brought along their vintage cars and cruised Virginia Street like in the 1950’s and 60’s. What was to be a one-night concert became a yearly event with vintage and custom cars on display and nightly cruises of Virginia Street. Because the first event was in August and the night was hot, this event became known as Hot August Nights. The event brings together restored vintage cars, custom hot rods, and many different smaller events.

This event happens almost every year. Covid19 caused last year’s Hot August Nights, along with everything else, to be canceled. Despite the Delta variant coming along, precautions were taken to allow this year’s event to go forward. The four main casino/hotels that hosted the event are The Atlantis, The Peppermill, The Nugget, and the Grand Sierra Resort. These venues have large parking lots to accommodate the number of cars that come in for the event. These lots are also large enough to accommodate cruise areas within the lots so that the cars can be driven around and paraded passed the judges for awards. They also cruise Virginia Street in the evenings. A whole cottage industry has grown up around the event.

Festivities kicked off in Virginia City on July 30th. For those who do not know, Virginia City was founded in 1859. The town has maintained its Wild West look and revels in its rich history. Tourists flock here every year for more than Hot August Nights. The most famous other events are Comstock Days and the Camel Races.

On August 2nd, the show moves into Reno proper.

This year I went to The Peppermill and Atlantis to see some beautifully restored cars. Here at The Atlantis a Woody and a nice 1930’s touring car were parading around on the cruising track.

This show is not limited to the “cool” hotrods and nicely restored cars of the 30’s and 40’s, but a nicely restored Rambler Nash was on display. This was a small car before small cars were cool.

The Peppermill also had its cruising track as well. All three venues had cars galore. Some from the area but many more traveled long distances from all over the country to be here.

This car always gives me the blues. (No pun intended.)  My Grandmother had a ’57 Chevy Bel Air. When I was stationed in England, she told me that she wanted to get rid of it for a newer car. I told her to wait until I got home, and I would buy her a car and take the Chevy in trade.

Needless to say, she did not wait. She said the nice man at the dealership gave her $500 for her old car. I could have cried. I am sure the weasel sold the car for $2,000 and that was in 1975. I will say I got to ride in a ’57 Bel Air when I was in England. On my base, RAF Alconbury, the work centers were 3 miles from the barracks.  At the time I had no car, so I waited out by the hitchhike point to hitch a ride to work.  Another airman stopped to give me a lift.  At first, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary because you know the driver sits on the right in England.  Then I woke up. Hey, this is ’57 Chevy! Why am I sitting on the left side of the car? He told me that this was 1 of 500 built and sent to England. He knew how rare this car was and planned to ship it home. He said he would be the only one in his state with a right hand-drive ’57 Chevy.

Custom rods were the name of the game at Hot August Nights. I am sure this car participated at the “Burn Out Competition” at The Nugget Casino area.

There were cars on display that were works in progress. This is a 1927 Willys Knight. Yes, this is the same company that would give the world the Jeep in World War II.

It is still a little rough, but I am sure that next year it will be a contender for Best in Show.

Of course, the 1950’s Chevy Corvettes were out in force. This 1959 model Vette was very nicely restored to showroom condition by the owner.

You must marvel that the Vette has survived for so long. The first model came out in 1953. In 2020, the model got an upgrade from a front engine car to a mid-engine car. 64 years old and still going strong.

As I said, this show is about the classic, the custom and the unusual. This is a 1952 Nash Rambler station wagon. To be honest, this is the first car of its kind that I have seen. I am not sure I want the engine exhaust just under the driver side window. Seems to me that is inviting carbon monoxide poisoning.

And who would not like a nice GTO? Growing up, my next-door neighbor’s son worked hard and bought a GTO. It has four two-barrel carburetors and got a whopping five miles to the gallon.

With gas at $0.30 a gallon, who cared. We joked that this was the only car where you could watch the speedometer needle, going around to the 110-mph mark, race around to meet the gas gauge needle headed toward “Empty”. We also use to joke that GTO stood for gas, tires, and oil, the three things this car burned.

The nice cars of the 1930’s. For me, these cars had class. I got to see so many nicely restored to original condition.

Nothing like a soft-top coupe with a rumble seat.

Even the interior had everything exactly right. Yes, back then it was three on the shaft. In other words, this is a three speed, manual shift car with the shifter on the steering column.

Even the rumble seat is nicely upholstered. I have heard countless tales of women being deflowered in the rumble seat. That is why it has a notorious reputation.

Here is another 1930’s car that looks like it was restored to original condition.

A closer look shows that a ‘Vette engine was shoehorned in in place of the stock engine. This thing must scream down the highway.

The interior dash shows great diligence with some upgrades.

Yes, even the People’s Car, a.k.a., the Volkswagen, was amply represented. After all, it was designed by Ferdinand Porsche in the 1930’s for Adolf Hitler. After the war, to get the German economy running, the British helped get the VW factory up and running again. The Beetle was one of the most popular imported cars in America. It became an icon.

Now we come to my personal favorite in show. The 1935 Supercharged Auburn Speedster. This is a fantastically restored model.

The Auburn Automobile Company was in existence from 1900 to 1937. The Great Depression and stock manipulation sounded the death nell of this luxury automobile company. It went into bankruptcy in 1940 and merged with the Central Manufacturing Companies. In 1940, the now Auburn Central Manufacturing Corporation, to supply jeep bodies for the Willys-Overland and Ford Companies. In addition to supplying jeep bodies, Auburn supplied trailer bodies and aircraft parts. After the war, Auburn changed its name to the American Central Manufacturing or ACM as it was now called, began manufacturing household appliances.

The interior of this Speedster has been nicely restored and oozes luxury.

The front gives you that roadster feel. You know this is a fast car. Too bad the owner was not around and dressed in vintage clothes.

Hood ornaments were big back in the day. You do not see many cars these days with such decoration.

A beautifully restored Buick on display between two more modern cars.

Buick had a great hood ornament. While they looked great, I am sure today these hood ornaments would be considered hazards in an accident.

As usual, the interior is just as lovingly restored to its former glory by the lucky owner.

I then spied this old Ford. The driver looked vaguely familiar.

Well, what do you know? Even the Tasmanian Devil comes to Hot August Nights.

Not all vehicles are in pristine condition. Some vehicles are brought to show the condition they were in when found. We will see this car again next year and see how far along the restoration has gotten.

Last, but certainly not least, is an art deco tow truck replete with slasher lug nuts. Compared to the utilitarian looks tow trucks of today, this is an object of beauty.

And as usual, the owner has completely restored the interior as well.

As you can see, Hot August Nights has grown from a one-night concert back in 1986 to a yearly classic car rally and a harkening back to the 50’s and 60’s. All these cars and cruising as well. I am looking forward to next year where hopefully we will not be wearing masks.

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