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Long Island Cars show rumbles into MacArthur Airport

Richard Polleri, of East Meadow, shows off his

Richard Polleri, of East Meadow, shows off his 1955 Chevrolet, during the Long Island Cars Custom & Collectibles Car Show & Swap Meet held at MacArthur Airport on Sept. 6, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

All the good parking spaces were taken at Ronkonkoma's MacArthur Airport on Sunday, for a car show that attracted hundreds of enthusiasts from across Long Island.

At the first of Long Island Cars' shows this season, countless rows of custom and collectible autos, ranging from the vintage to the exotic, were on display. A fleet -- ranging from hot rods to muscle cars, imports and classics -- competed in classed judging, facing off for little more than the glory of a gold-colored trophy.

Trophies were awarded in 50 classes, judged on criteria such as paint, interior, motor and tire condition. Anthony Basirico, 73, of Commack, was confident his 1956 Oldsmobile Holiday would fare well. He's owned the original white and seafoam-green car for more than 34 years, and said he's essentially spent that entire time carefully restoring it.

He's a past winner of best in show honors at Newsday's annual Field of Wheels car show. The Holiday even has a metal food tray attached to the passenger door, upon which Basirico had displayed a plastic wine and cheese spread.

"As a kid, I worked in a junkyard," Basirico said. "I worked my way up to this."

He still remembers seeing a Holiday cruising around the neighborhood when he was a child. He fell in love with it, and he said his car today is a close match.

"I'll be buried in it," Basirico said. "There are no other cars like this around. Every car today looks the same."

The cars displayed Sunday, from glossy Corvettes to striped El Caminos and vintage Bel Air sedans, were certainly far from identical. Visitors leisurely milled through the rows of cars and vendors, to the soundtrack of a '60s tribute band and the rumbling of car motors.

Al Plitt, 76, of Bayport drove to the show in his black 1929 Ford Model A Cabriolet, which has a rumble seat for his grandkids. "They think it's a carnival ride," Plitt said. He's owned the ragtop, which he drives mostly locally, for three years. He avoids highways and driving faster than 40 mph, but said that "for an old car, it is quite reliable."

Bill Bishop, 62, of Huntington Station said part of the appeal of attending car shows was talking shop with other car enthusiasts. "Everyone likes the same thing," Bishop said, adding that he could discuss cars for hours.

Drivers clustered near their cars, fielding questions from curious passersby and talking mechanics with others in the know. Bishop had parked his 1940 Dodge half-ton pickup next to Don Mehrer's 1937 two-door Ford coupe, and they weighed the merits of classic cars.

"Not only do you create something beautiful and historic, you have the incentive of accomplishment and you can do this your whole life," said Mehrer, 69, of Babylon, who owns three vintage Fords.

According to Mehrer, modern cars don't necessarily run better. To him, driving a classic car is akin to the "joy of playing with your children" -- the feeling a glossy new car can't quite replicate.

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