Freewheelin’ in Scottsdale

Rev up your Saturdays in Scottsdale at the family-friendly Rock & Roll Car Show. Held each week, the free show features hundreds of auto enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers showing off their rides and remodels.

Rev up your Saturdays in Scottsdale at the family-friendly Rock & Roll Car Show.

Held each week, the free show features hundreds of auto enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers showing off their rides and remodels.

Scottsdale's Rock & Roll Car Show is not a “numbers matching” obsession-fest or a competitive review of investments—it’s the commencement of a “look what I did since last week” meeting among vehicular hobbyists who do their own dirty work and would love to tell you about it. There are a lot of moustaches, gray ponytails, baseball caps and cigarettes. Owners sit in lawn chairs that have drink holders in the armrests, tailgate-style, or stand in clusters off to the side where they can ogle their own automobiles and remain in earshot of compliments from viewers.

The show is governed by very few rules, and a grassroots vibe prevails. No for-sale parts, products or vehicles are permitted; this is a hobbyist show, not a sale-a-bration. And some rows of the show are model- or year-restricted (to Corvettes or pre-1975 vehicles, for example), while others are a mishmash of old muscle cars, tricked-out trucks, and contemporary novelties like Fiats, Mini Coopers and Nissan Zs.

Some projects are painstakingly documented with photos, business cards and autographs. Some mid-overhaul specimens show up wearing primer gray or lacking a back seat, only to return a week later with a metal-flake paint job or a tufted leather bench.

Admission is free to both exhibitors and lookers. Cars start assembling before sundown and stay put until 9 or 10 pm—although someone inevitably has to leave early, idling boastfully, forcing foot traffic to the sides, and loading the air with exhaust.

Grandmothers and toddlers wiggle subconsciously to a DJ’s soundtrack of “Johnny B. Goode,” “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Rock This Town.” Packs of 60-year-old men roam together, reminisce, and speculate over model years and cubic inches. High schoolers dating on-the-cheap clutch each other’s hands and pretend not to be impressed by any of it.

In a fancypants city like Scottsdale, the Saturday-night car show is a weekly tradition that starts early, remains earnest, and is absolutely welcoming of dirty fingernails.

Lisa Polacheck
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