GTO, Bel-Air, Chevelle — the names almost spell “classic car” and many were on display outside John Ascuaga’s Nugget, glimmering under the northern Nevada sun.
Chris and Lorrie Saxton of Reno showed off their white ’37 Packard, a car reminiscent of the gangster rides that once chauffeured the likes of Al Capone and other public enemies.
The car has been fully refurbished, with a new engine, disc brakes and air conditioning, among other modern amenities.
“It has a lot more technology in it than it did in ’37,” Chris said.
The Saxtons bought the Packard in February and rent it out for weddings.
They also own two other classic limousine-style cars and a fleet of about 20 classic cars.
But the Packard stands out and the Saxtons thought it would make for a good addition to the festival.
“The whole idea is to go and enjoy life,” Chris said of his first time at HAN.
Just down the street, Ed and Nancy Buck were bragging about their all-black ’69 Chevelle Malibu convertible, one of only 2,400 ever made.
The couple has attended HAN for 22 years and came from California with friends this time around.
“This is our vacation,” Nancy said.
The two have seen a lot of changes over the years, some for the better, some for the worse.
“Muscle cars have become more popular,” Ed said, adding that HAN used to feature mostly hot rods and vintage automobiles.
But cars like the Chevelle are more common nowadays as interest has perked.
“We’ve gotten some big offers for it,” Ed said, adding that he once was offered $30,000 on the spot for his Chevelle.
But the Bucks aren’t selling. Nor are they trying to win any prize.
“We just like being here,” Nancy said. “We’re not into it for the trophies.”
Meanwhile, Ron and Maureen Smith pulled up in their ’29 Ford Model A, solid black with decal flames and an open engine.
“I always like the street-rod type of car,” Ron said.
The California couple has attended HAN since 2004 and it is the atmosphere and energy of the festival that keeps them coming back.
“It takes me back to my heyday,” Ron said.
For Maureen, simpler pleasures come with HAN.
“I don’t have to cook for a week,” she said jokingly.
The recent retirees plan to stay until Saturday, cruising through town, admiring other classic cars and relaxing.
“We love it the way it is,” Maureen said of HAN.
Across the street, Mike Griffin sipped an adult beverage and posed for photos with his red ’51 Ford F1 truck, in all its immaculate glory.
“I’m a small-time guy and to be recognized is great,” Griffin, a resident of Truckee, Calif., said of the festival, which he has attended the last two years.
Griffin’s Ford has all original parts and just over 11,000 original miles on the engine. But he has touched up the rig with slick rims and Sycamore wood framing in the truck bed.
Griffin said he enjoys HAN for the camaraderie.
“The people you meet here are incredible,” he said.
And they bring their incredible cars with them.
Whether it’s a teal-colored ’57 Chevy or original Model T, hundreds of classic cars will roll through Victorian Square this week.
For a schedule of events and more information, visit www.hotaugustnights.net.