Auto show spotlights classic car collectors from the community

Automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles were on display this past weekend at Syracuse Motorama, the largest indoor custom and classic car show in New York.

Around 130 well-maintained, elegantly crafted cars lined a barn at the New York State Fairgrounds this weekend, each with its own sign boasting the automobiles' make, model and history. Car owners hovered near their prized automobiles, eager to tell visitors about their lifelong passion for cars. Occasional bursts of laughter could be heard over the live music from a rock and roll band.

Photo: Jingnan Li
Jean Menkins' 1967 Camaro RS/SS was one of the classic cars, motorcycles and bicycles showcased at Syracuse Motorama this past weekend.

Syracuse Motorama, a custom and classic car and motorcycle show, has been around since the 1960s and has become an annual tradition for local car enthusiasts. Individual car collectors and people from local car clubs brought their vehicles to the show, and visitors had a chance to admire a wide variety of sport cars, motorcycles and antique cars, both foreign and domestic cars. At the end of the event, a winner from each vehicle category was selected by judges from Central New York Car Club Association.

Edward Suchon, the show owner and promoter, said each car was carefully considered before being put on display; the car's paint job and condition were two important factors considered.

Suchon has been involved with auto shows for almost eight years. He purchased Syracuse Motorama last July and brought one of his own sports cars to the auto show. This year, he said his goal was to attract more than 3,000 visitors to the show. 

One autoshow participant, Carl Menkins, brought his favorite cars from the 1960s. Menkins said he has been collecting cars almost his whole life.

“It is what we grew up with. When I was in high school, I was driving these cars," Carl said with a smile, adjusting his car racing jacket.  

Menkin's passion for cars inspired his wife, Jean Menkins, to become interested in sport cars and to begin buying her own antique cars. Jean Menkins, who also used to race cars, has now collected cars for 11 years. She is most proud of the 1967 orange Camaro RS/SS (real sports/super sports) in her collection.

“We enjoy working on cars. They are not making these cars anymore, so we just keep them as nice as we can,” Carl Menkins said.

Syracuse Motorama doesn't only feature cars. Motorcycles and bicycles are welcome to the show as well.

Peter Morkovin, who owns 90 custom bicycles, exhibited 10 bikes from the late '60s and early '70s. Morkovin has been collecting bicycles for 13 years.

“Bicycles bring me back to my childhood. I bought them and sold them as a kid,” he said.

Morkovin is also an avid car collector and has collected cars for almost 20 years. He has attended hundreds of auto shows.

“Any show within 50 miles, I almost have attended," Morkovin said.

This year marks Morkovin’s second time bringing bicycles to Syracuse Motorama. Pointing to a pink, sparkly Schwinn bicycle with a high seat from 1968, Morkovin explained that in the '60s and '70s people loved customizing their bikes to look like rock cars. People put gear shifts on them and customized wheels and handles to look like motorcycles or muscle cars.

“For those middle-aged men like me, when these came out, it was the biggest thing in bicycles,” Morkovin said.

During the auto show, there were also several fundraisers for non-profit organizations.

Near three Harley Davidson motorcycles, two fit, tall men with tattoos and leather motorcycle riding vests sat behind a stand. The Red Knights Motorcycle Club, an international firefighers motorcycle club founded in 1982, visited the show to sell raffle tickets and raise money for the Burn Foundation of Central New York, a nonprofit that supports burn survivors and families.

John Carwowski, a member of the Red Knights, said that the group visits other shows besides Syracuse Motorama to raise money for nonprofit organizations. During the summer, the Red Knights give rides to kids at summer camps and donate the proceeds to the Burn Foundation.

With the classic cars, motorcycles and fundraisers, Syracuse Motorama attracted many car collectors from the community. Chris Bocyck and Roxane Bocyck said they really enjoyed the show.

"We have been interested in cars for 20 years,” Chris said. 

More than the draw of rare and unique automobiles and motorcycles, Chris said that the show was entertaining and it marked the beginning of the spring season.

“We love the music," he said, gesturing to nearby stage, where the rock and roll band played to a small crowd of car show participants sitting in lawn chairs. "Spring is here," he said, grinning. 

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