With rain holding off, Bessinger’s posts record turnout for popular midweek auto fest
The sun was setting Aug. 7 at the monthly Bessinger’s Car Show, and Tom Jameson faced a problem.
He had booked 170 spaces for cars, trucks and motorcycles to park at the Savannah Highway barbecue eatery. Bessinger’s hosts the show 6-9 p.m. the first Wednesday of the month from March through November.
On this occasion, an all-time high 167 vehicles had paid the registration and were parked on the grassy infield, paved parking lot and an adjacent overflow area next to the restaurant – and the show had more than an hour to go.
“I need to double check (the head count),” Jameson said. “What a night.”
He was fortunate. The event topped out just short of the maximum.
At the same time, it wasn’t like the show’s organizer was complaining. Actually, Jameson was grateful for a get-together at all after rainouts in June and July – which undoubtedly contributed to the huge August crowd.
Dozens of car buffs arrived, cruising as short as a few blocks to as far as from Moncks Corner, Walterboro and beyond. “I’ve got six from Beaufort here,” he said, marveling that enthusiasts would travel that distance on a weekday evening.
“It’s amazing,” Jameson said. “The first show, we had 18 vehicles.” The entire lineup fit on the paved lot, he recalled. That was in 1988.
For the August show, there were many regulars such as Ed Kramer. He said he enjoys the camaraderie and consistency of the Bessinger’s show, which – weather permitting – commands a solid turnout nine times a year.
“The show has 135 to 145 cars a month,” said Kramer, of West Ashley, who brought a 1979 Chevrolet Luv compact pickup.
Sam Fennessy parked his uncommon 1957 Pontiac Star Chief alongside other vintage ’50s domestic models. “A cousin of mine had one,” said Fennessy, who purchased his classic – complete with Star Chief emblazoned under the hood – in 2003. “I’ve built several cars; this was the biggest challenge,” he said.
Tim and Dyer Askins of Mount Pleasant marked an unusual “double.” The father and son showcased Chevy Suburbans from different eras: father Tim with a 1948 surfboard-hauling wagon originally from Pennsylvania and 16-year-old son Dyer with a 1964 edition from Cocoa Beach, Fla., painted lime green.
Tim Askins said the make boasts close to a 75 year lineage but doesn’t always get enough credit as a fun, versatile wagon.
“So many of the Suburbans became work trucks,” he said.
Nearby, Edward Bryan of West Ashley drew a small crowd to his motorcycle, a 1930 Henderson. “Most people haven’t heard of one and when they have, they haven’t seen one,” he quipped.
The story of how Bryan wound up with the cycle, all mechanical with no power assist, is almost as odd as the two-wheeler itself.
An acquaintance had been trying to sell the Henderson to him but Bryan demurred. Then one night, he got a call from the bike owner, who was in jail in Kings Bay, Ga., after being pulled over for speeding and other charges. Bryan bailed him out but despite the friend’s pleas, he still didn’t want the motorcycle. Two months later, Bryan reconsidered. He’s owned the Henderson now for 25 years but didn’t finish restoring the rare cycle until recently. “I’m 72 now,” Bryan said. While noting it’s hard to accelerate the Henderson past 40-45 mph, he acknowledged, “It rides pretty good.”
For more on the Bessinger’s show, call Jameson at 843-571-2264.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or email@example.com.