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Labors of love on display at vintage car show in Bay Shore

People look at rows of vintage cars during

People look at rows of vintage cars during the annual car show held on the grounds of the Sagtikos Manor in Bay Shore, Sunday, July 19, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

A vandalized 1931 Lincoln Roadster with busted headlights and nothing better to do than gather dust in an East Hampton repair shop would seem like a candidate for the scrap heap.

In the eyes of Bay Shore resident and vintage car enthusiast William McCleery, it was perfection in need of a polish.

"I saw that this car had character to it," McCleery, 89, said of the gleaming, cream and black sedan that he nursed back to life. "It looked like a diamond in the rough to me."

McCleery was one of nearly 100 owners of vintage American cars and trucks showing off the results of their hard work and dedication Sunday at the Antique and Classic Car Show at Sagtikos Manor in Bay Shore. The annual event drew nearly 200 people to the manor, which was built in 1697 and now serves as a museum.

Outside the manor, McCleery stood next to his custom roadster, highlighting what he called the two-door classic's "goodies" like spare tires mounted on the side of the vehicle and a compartment for a golf bag. McCleery said the car's original owner was postwar New York City painter Franz Kline.

McCleery bought the car in 1960 at an East Hampton repair shop for $150 -- two weeks' pay at the time from his job as a power plant engineer.

Some six cars away from McCleery, a restored neon purple 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger rested on the lawn. Fuzzy, zebra-patterned dice dangled from the rearview mirror by the driver's seat.

The car's front hood was about as wide as a queen-size mattress, covering the powerful engine underneath. Owner Joey DiMartino, 75, of Brightwaters, bought the purple hot rod three years ago for $9,000.

"This car flies off the line," said DiMartino, who used to race muscle cars at the Westhampton drag strip when he was younger and considers car restoration a personal pastime. "This is a very fast car."

Owners of cars like DiMartino's that were made after 1941 had to pay $10 to feature their car at the show.

Ticket sales and showcasing fees will help fund a nearly $10,000 project to update the electrical systems in the house.

Dan Mari, the car show's chairman, said it's important to preserve historical treasures, whether it's the manor or the cars.

"You can't keep throwing out the old and bringing in the new," Mari said.

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