• Prep for Car Shows

    So, youíve got a Cobra and you want to hit some cars shows. Cool. We like going to car shows on occasion. As a group, we try to get a few cars together and hit a couple of shows every year. You may want to go to more than that, and thatís fine. Iíve been to a number of shows and itís kind of fun. For the most part, as a group we really prefer a good cruise. But, a car show is a relaxing way to spend some quality time with your car and see some impressive hardware. In later articles weíll cover in great detail some specific products, and processes to get your car to really gleam. But for now, here a few tips to help you make sure you have a good day, and just maybe come home with some hardware. Basically there are two types of car shows. One is the Show & Shine. This is a non-judged event. It is usually free, and there are no awards. The other is a paid show. Usually an admission fee is charged to the participants, they have local judges that use some type of scoring system, and there is an awards ceremony at the end of the day.

    • Wash and wax your car
    • Clean all glass
    • Vacuum all carpet, and mats, including behind your seats, and your trunk
    • Clean your wheels, grease up your tires.
    • Shine your seats and dash
    • Clean and detail your engine compartment
    • Clean and shine your sidepipes, bumpers, all chrome
    • Pay some attention to the underside of your car
    • Make sure your door sills, trunk, and hood sills are also clean


    • Money. Most shows charge for admission. About $25.00
    • A few microfiber towels.
    • A couple of larger towels in case the weather changes.
    • Detail spray for a quick wipe down once you arrive and throughout the day.
    • Tire shine stuff
    • California Dust mop Ė they work great.
    • Lawn chair
    • Small cooler of drinks
    • Display tent Ė if you have one, and the room to bring it.
    • Your club business cards
    • Your cell phone that can pick up weather radar.
    • Your standard go-bag of tools and supplies that should already be in your car.

    • Radio or sound system. Most shows frown on that.
    • Attitude. Just relax and enjoy the day.
    • Expectations. Iíll explain later. Just relax.

    Most car shows open up between 8am or 9am. Be on time to get the best parking spots. So, once you arrive at the venue you will most likely be directed to a parking space or parking area. Follow those directions. If you have not paid at the gate, you will probably be handed a packet of information and directions to pay at the registration tent. Get to your parking space, and head off to the registration area.

    During registration, you will wonder what category your little car will be placed in. It doesnít matter what type of kit or replica you have. It doesnít matter how much you have spent on your car or how period correct it is. Your car is a 1965 427 Shelby Cobra Ė period. It will be place in the ďSpecial InterestĒ category. That is unless you have a ďrealĒ (made in the 1960s, chassis produced in England) Shelby Cobra. In that case, youíll probably be in the 1960 Ė 1970 sports car category. But, for most of us Ė itís ďSpecial InterestĒ. In that category you will compete against other kit cars of all types (VW Bugatti, VW Mercedes, etc.), Caterham kits, GT40s, Daytonas, Fiero kits, fire trucks, tractors, golf carts, Batmobiles, and so on. Look. Everybody loves our cute little cars, but donít expect a class trophy. Iíve taken my brand spanking new car to several shows, and have lost out to ratty fire trucks, and Cushman carts. If you win a trophy at the end of the day, be happy. Be surprised. Nice job.

    Now that you are registered, head back to your car. Get your gear out. Set up your lawn chair. Raise your hood. Give your car a good wipe down inside and out. Place your registration on your windscreen. If you are so inclined, empty the contents of your truck, and keep your truck open for the day. Itís not necessary, but preferred. Now relax.


    • Keep you car clean and dusted throughout the day
    • Use your detail spray as needed
    • Keep your hood open
    • Let folks take pictures of your car
    • Make sure your interior is free of debris
    • Display your seat belts
    • If you have driving gloves, lay them on the trans tunnel
    • If you have a diecast of your car, put it on the Air Cleaner
    • If you have a display sign Ė use it.
    • Take a look at some other participants and see if your can get any tips.

    Be prepared to answer a lot of questions during the show. Everything from - What kind of Corvette is this? Did you build this? How much is it worth? and the ever present Ė my uncle had a car like this. Generally, I always like talking about my car with folks, and will generally speak much longer that they are willing to listen. Some folks are fairly well informed about various kits and are interested in the differences, and some are completely confused. Thatís understandable. Enjoy the day.

    Also, throughout the day folks with flyers advertising other shows will come along and deposit them in your car. Thatís okay. Iím polite and donít throw them in the trash. I fold them up and put them in my truck and review them when I get home. Some shows feature a vendor midway. These folks pay big bucks to be there. Their support is key to keeping the show viable from year to year. I try to visit their pavilion and preview their wares. I like to wonder the grounds of the show and look at all of the other cars. Sometimes I talk to the owners, sometimes I just look. One thing I try to do is keep within sight distance of my car.

    At some point, usually around noon, the judgeís crew will come by to score your car. They will look around and make their notes. As a rule, they donít like to be talked to. So, just let them do their job. They may have a question, so I make sure I am in the vicinity. One time a judge actually tried to crawl under my car to look at the frame. Usually, the results are tabulated and the winners announced at the end of the show Ė around 4pm. If you canít stay that long, they will contact you about your trophy. During the ceremony, the participants all gather for the announcements. Etiquette for the ceremony is that everyone stays until the end. The sound of several 100 cars leaving during the proceedings makes for a difficult situation. So, stay till the end. Also, the Special Interest class is usually near the end of the presentation anyway.

    Some things you want to avoid and watch out for are kids. Donít let them hop up on your side pipes. Warn visitors that your pipes are hot. Make sure your car is a comfortable distance between other cars so folks donít rub up against either car when walking past. Keep your conversations with other participants light and fun. Some of these folks are very devout about their car shows, and aggressively campaign their ride for a $20 dollar trophy. They go to dozens of shows each season. And for whatever reason they look down their nose at our ďreplicasĒ. Thatís okay.

    Keep an eye on the weather. If itís going to rain, consider heading out. Once the rain begins, itís too late Ė youíre wet. Iíve been at shows when a light rain started and then cleared up, and all was fine. I used my towels and detail spray after the rain ended, and the car was show-ready once again. Iíve also been at shows when a major storm was heading towards us, and decided to leave. Either way, be as informed as you can.

    I was at a show once, parked next to a 60s Corvette Convertible. It was beautiful. The owner told me the car just came out of the restoration shop a few weeks ago. I recognize quality work, and this car was easily worth $200,000. I was watching the radar feed on my phone, and knew we were going to get a major downpour in about 45 minutes. I asked the Vette owner if he trailered his car to the show. Most folks donít, and he verified that he drove. He lived about the same distance from the show as me Ė 30 minutes drive. I asked if he ever drove his car in the rain. Many Vette owners proudly admit that their car has never seen a drop of rain or snow. He was no different. Nope, my baby has never been wet, he exclaimed. I then showed him my radar feed, and told him it was going to rain HERE in about 45 minutes, and began quickly packing up my stuff. He looked on at my pace and I could tell he was wondering if he should leave. As I was packing up, the PA announcer was telling the crowd of car owners (all of them beautiful as this was a very big show) that there is nothing to worry about. I left the show alone, in a roar that only our side pipes can exclaim. That guy, and all the rest that stayed Ė got soaked and had to drive their soaked cars across a grass (now muddy) field to exit, completely and utterly soaked to the bone. I made it home with 5 minutes to spare and watched the torrential downpour from the garage. Ha.

    Anyway, now you are prepared to have a great day at the show. Get out there and have some fun, and bring home some hardware.