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Syracuse Nationals car show tries to attract younger visitors

Ellen Abbott
Ken Zoanetti's 1957 Chyrsler Windsor

Car lovers of all stripes converge on the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse this weekend, for the Syracuse Nationals car show, which has become a mecca for classic car lovers.

Ken Zoanetti of Bridgeport has always been interested cars. But one of the vehicles he’s displaying at the Syracuse Nationals is extra special. It’s a 1957 Chrysler Windsor.

“It is identical to what my mom and dad bought in 1957. Same color, same interior, same everything,” said Zoanetti.

So for him, fixing up and maintaining classic cars, has become a kind of sentimental journey.

"I’ve really enjoyed driving the car. It reminds me of my childhood. I was 10 years old when I drove it around my wrap around driveway. So it’s really something special.”

Zoanetti’s vehicles one of 8,000 that are on display at the fairgrounds this weekend. Nationals Spokesman Bob McLean expects between 80,000 and 90,000 people to come to the fairgrounds to inspect everything from 1920s touring cars to ‘60s hot rods. McLean admits visitors to the Nationals can be a graying crowd, so they’re trying to emphasize some of the cars that draw younger car lovers.

“The classic custom muscle cars are really popular with the younger set -- and even more so than in the past. So we’re seeing a little younger, with families for custom classic cars. We’re hoping that continues”

McLean says ‘80s vintage muscle cars will be featured Sunday as the Nationals, now in its 17th year, tries to excite those younger visitors. The event is the largest classic car show in the Northeast.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.