A Chance To Talk About Cars Draws Crowds to Bridgehampton

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A silver $2.3 million McLaren P-1 drew a lot of attention during a car show held on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Museum on Sunday. Michael Heller photos
A silver $2.3 million McLaren P-1 drew a lot of attention during a car show held on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Museum on Sunday. Michael Heller photos

By Stephen J. Kotz

“I’ve just been thrilled with cars since I was old enough to stand up in the back seat and stare out the window,” said Don Gleasner of East Hampton. Mr. Gleasner is currently thrilled with his black 1986 Aston Martin V-8. The muscular British sports car was one of hundreds of cars, ranging from McLaren supercars to a 1973 Pontiac Catalina coupe with some minor rust issues, that were on display Sunday at the Bridgehampton Cars and Coffee show at the Bridgehampton Museum.

The free show, sponsored by Bridge Events and the historical society, followed on the heels of an invitation-only gathering on Saturday at the Bridge golf club, where some of the same cars on display Sunday had been shown.

One of those was a lovingly restored moss green 1970 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage that was shown for its owner by David Cohen of Auto Sport Design in Huntington. One of only 71 built, it could be yours for a mere $695,000.

One might think a car so valuable would travel to and from shows in an enclosed trailer. “I drove it out. It handles wonderfully,” said Mr. Cohen. “These cars are meant to be driven. They suffer more from lack of use than from use.”

A classic Jaguar XK140 draws attention from Herman Goldsmith and Philip Prevet.

That was the attitude of Bob Platz, who had driven from Philadelphia with his son Harrison in a 1973 BMW 3.0 CS, a classic coupe sometimes known as “the shark” for its elongated hood. Mr. Platz, who owns an automobile restoration business, had shipped a Mercedes Benz 300 SL to the Bridge for Saturday’s show. That’s reasonable, given such cars typically carry a seven-figure price tag.

But he said he enjoyed driving to the East End his dark blue BMW, which had undergone a top-to-bottom restoration that had taken more than two years. “We drove up in this with the intention of coming here,” he said of Sunday’s populist show. “We love to restore cars and we love to show them.”

Jeffrey Einhorn, one of the event’s organizers, said Sunday’s gathering was a new twist on informal gatherings when owners of, say, American muscle cars or British MGs, gather for a Saturday morning drive and coffee break. “Usually, you’ll see a bunch of middle-aged men walking around looking at cars,” he said. “We wanted to make it a more family-friendly event.”

Jeffrey Vogel of Bridgehampton brought a 1927 Bugatti open-air racecar to Sunday’s show. Mr. Vogel, who has owned a number of the rare French automobiles, including one he bought from the cartoonist Charles Addams, enjoys taking his car out for a spin on Bridgehampton’s back roads.

Mr. Vogel did not seem that impressed with a collection of a half-dozen British-made McLarens. “Useless,” he said when asked his impression of the limited-edition vehicles, which go for more than $200,000 — and now north of $2 million for rare P1 models, of which only 275 were manufactured. “What are you going to do with one?” Local roads are simply too crowded to truly enjoy the car’s abilities, he said. “It’s better to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow,” he concluded.

Simon Rodd of Long Island Sports Cars in Rosyln, which brought a fleet of McLarens, known for their Formula 1 racing success, to both shows, said the company’s offerings definitely appeal to a select clientele, who would appreciate the vehicle’s unique appeal.

David Gonzalez and Josel Villaneuva check out a 1927 Bugatti.

“They are the best in class in every measurable way,” he said of the cars, which go from 0 to 60 in a mere 2.8 seconds. People who think a Tesla S is a fast car might be interested to know that a McLaren, matched against a Tesla driving at 60 mph, would pass that car before it reached 120 mph.

Andy Morris, the owner of Detail Artist, a mobile detailing service, represented the other end of the spectrum with his 1976 Ford Grand Torino station wagon, a mass-produced icon of suburban living.

“This is my company car,” he said, adding that he inherited the car, which had only been used to go to the beach or grocery store. The pale-yellow car, with its black-wall police car tires, is a familiar sight around town. “It’s got about 120,000 miles on it,” said Mr. Morris, who said he was responsible for putting 60,000 miles on the car in the past five years. “Use it or lose it,” he said. He would be willing to part with it for $7,500, so he can put more attention into the 1989 Ford Country Squire station wagon he recently bought.

Chuck Macwhinnie of Southampton was also at the show, with an American classic: a red 1932 Ford V-8 coupe, which was immortalized as “The Little Deuce Coupe” by the Beach Boys.

Mr. Macwhinnie has owned 26 of the popular hot rods over the years, and recently sold a fully restored one to the rock star Eric Clapton. His current car, which has a fully restored original body, but a modern engine and automatic transmission underneath, is on the market for $75,000.

Mr. Macwhinnie says he loves the cars but never buys one he doesn’t think he’d be happy to keep for the long haul. “My wife asked me, ‘Do you think you’ll be able to sell that?” he said of his most recent acquisition. “I don’t care.”

A beautiful classic Jaguar convertible.

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