MOUNT PLEASANT — Erica Smith and her dad, Hugh, came away with hardware, and grandpa Willis took home memories from the first Carolina Open Car Classic & Hot Rod Run on Saturday at Boone Hall Plantation.
"We came out here to have fun," Erica Smith said, noting that the best-of-division awards for her 1965 Mustang and her father's 1965 Maserati were bonuses. Willis Smith talked of driving Porsches and, as a young adult, owning a rare Graham Hollywood. As Hugh Smith got his photo taken by acquaintances, Erica said she got involved in what's traditionally a male hobby, car collecting, because "I think (my dad) wanted a boy."
Erica, who lives in Mount Pleasant, didn't have far to travel to get to the event.
"It was great, a lot of cars," she said.
That was an understatement. No attendance figures were announced on Saturday, but dozens of vintage sedans, street rods, convertibles and coupes lined the plantation's much photographed Avenue of Oaks, and dozens of other models were displayed on the plantation grounds.
Hundreds of people strolled by row after row of vehicles, from a 1922 Ford Model T to new cherry red Mustangs, Dodge Coronets, Nissan Zs, Rolls Royces, Triumphs, Ford Model A's and such rarities as a 1937 DeSoto and Packard and LaSalle limousines.
"I think it went great," said Ken French, marketing manager with one of the sponsors, Saturn of Charleston. "The weather couldn't have been better," French said of the sunny day with mid-70s temperatures.
"This was an idea, a hybrid," said Gregg Holloway of Cripple Dog Hot Rods, the main sponsor with Boone Hall. The event mated an open car show featuring more than 80 classes of vehicles with a concert featuring the rock band Sister Hazel.
Former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan was a judge and also promoted his safety program to help underprivileged kids get helmets when they ride scooters, motorbikes and go-carts.
Proceeds from the show went to his cause. "We really appreciate what Gregg's done," Irvan said.
Holloway said the classic would be an annual event at Boone Hall, most likely taking place in November next year.
There were magicians to entertain the kids, and trophy winners got their pictures taken with two beauties dressed in antebellum costumes.
The owners of classic and vintage cars had stories to tell, some even typed up and ready to hand out.
Al Bailey, a longtime collector in Summerville, said he got a fuel injection system this year for his "Cotton Candy" 1956 Mercury that's bumped up fuel economy from 17 miles per gallon to 22.
Bailey had hauled the car most places, but "when I started driving on the highway, I needed to do something because it was leaking," he said.
Rich Black of Piedmont said that, as a 7-year-old, he used to climb on a Jeep CJ5 at the station where his father and grandfather were firefighters. "I wanted to have something like it."
He got his wish nine years ago, eventually rebuilding a bright red 1956 Ford F-100 dubbed American Firerod Engine Co. 56. A plaque noted that it was "built in honor of America's firefighters."
People attending the show, many caught in the traffic in and out of Boone Hall, said they were pleased with the displays.
"It's so many cars," said Joe Nettles, who runs a tire business. "But I've enjoyed it."