Muscle cars, Harleys and BBQ in it for the win at the Santee Car and Bike Show

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The fifth annual Santee Car and Bike Show on Oct. 11 does not just bring out bike and car enthusiasts. It was a family event, with a pulled pork barbecue contest, a five-man band of talented kids playing oldies, with merchandise and services for sale—good, old-fashioned American fun.

The fifth annual Santee Car and Bike Show on Oct. 11 does not just bring out bike and car enthusiasts. It was a family event, with a pulled pork barbecue contest, a five-man band of talented kids playing oldies, with merchandise and services for sale—good, old-fashioned American fun.

With the main attraction being the cars and bikes, owners and admirers were on hand to answer questions about the vehicles themselves. The camaraderie was immediate among people who love things on wheels, and want to tell the world, or at least a large community, about it.

There is something undeniably attractive about a fast car. Something in our national heartbeat awakens at the commanding hum of a motorcycle or car engine that can be heard from miles away. Add to those qualities a distinct paint job, fuzzy rearview mirror dice or sleek, smooth leather interior and it becomes a matter of pride.

Whether it’s an American muscle car from the 1960s, a mint-condition Pantera, a VW surfer bus with as much character as the miles driven, or a Dodge Dart that would make any hipster croon, the cars at the Santee Car and Bike Show have been cared for and loved. The yellow 383 motor, four-speed convertible 1969 Dodge Dart owned by John Talley has even survived a flood of the Missouri River in 1993, spending four days almost completely submerged in water. It was never allowed to lose its original appeal.

“It’s just more sentimental than anything,” Talley said. Talley has owned his Dart since 1972, and belongs to a motorcars club named after Route 66. Talley wears a yellow baseball hat and yellow shirt in solidarity with his car, his “baby.”

Tom Aldridge proudly displayed (but is selling) his 1956 Chevrolet 150 series two-door sedan.

“As you can see, it has slight modifications,” Aldridge said with a smile as he pointed out the elaborate appearance of the car. “A little ground effects on the bumper and along the sides, chopped two and a half inches on the front, painted a champagne tan along with a copperhead orange with chameleon flames,” he said.

When Aldridge purchased the Chevy in 1983, it was “an ugly, old, primered six-cylinder column shift,” that he got for his teenage son. His son drove it the last year of high school, and then Aldridge took it over. He belonged to Classic Chevys of San Diego in the 1980s and 1990s.

A row of motorcycles filled the middle of the classic car perimeter, with the all but forgotten sidecars displayed, stylish and taken to new second passenger considerations levels. Some sidecars were built in for comfort, some ornately decorated. Sleek Harley-Davidson’s got a lot of attention.

The band “Minor Strut” played songs perfectly suited for a rapt crowd of classic car and bike lovers. No missed chords or flat notes to be heard from this five-man band of youngsters. Do not be surprised if you hear their name again in the future.

One barbecue ticket entitled the patron to sample from five different barbecues. If the most solid cars and motorcycles ever produced in America didn’t bring people to the intersection of Riverwalk and Mission Gorge, the irresistible scent of America’s favorite cuisine probably did.

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