Full speed ahead for 14th annual Ford car show

Jun 22, 2019

When Westport resident Bud O’Hearn bought his 1954 Corvette in 1996, it was in boxed-up pieces on the back of a trailer.

“It took me a month to buy the car,” he said. “I had to go through everything that was there, make a list of what I had, make a list of what I was missing.”

Over the next year and a half, he fixed it up, doing everything but the interior himself.

“When I first saw this [model] car, I was 11 years old,” O’Hearn said. “And I said to myself, ‘At some point in my life, I am going to own one.’ … It took me forty some-odd years to find it and put it together.”

O’Hearn was one of more than 100 Ford car owners who took part in the Empire Ford car show at the Dartmouth Mall on Saturday.

Cars of all shapes and sizes were lined up in neat rows with hoods up, showing off the gleaming engines beneath.

Antique T-birds and classic Mustangs sat side by side with brand-new GTs and trucks in every conceivable color and style.

Amid the dazzling chrome and fuzzy dice, the beeps of ancient horns and the roars of racing engines, families and pets strolled in the sun, peering into soft leather interiors and chatting with the mechanically inclined.

Marketing Director for Empire Ford Linda Ferreira — along with co-sponsors the Mustangs of Massachusetts — helped organize the event, which is now in its 14th year.

“In the past it’s been held at the dealership,” she said. “But we have so much more inventory than we’ve had in the past, we didn’t have the room to host it there.”

Instead, Empire Ford rented parking lot space at the mall.

The show is also a competition, with three trophies given away in each of 16 classes.

This year food truck Oxford Creamery served snacks — and participants received a voucher for a free hot dog.

Coffee and cold drinks were also available for a donation to the Veterans Transition House in New Bedford.

Three generations of the Kelley family were wandering through the sea of cars. Benjamin Kelley came up with his father from Georgia to visit his grandfather, who lives in Dartmouth.

They were all enjoying the show.

“We have a ‘71 Firebird back home, but it’s not really running,” Benjamin said. “It’s all taken apart right now. It’s a work in progress.”

“They’re all a work in progress, all the time,” agreed lifelong Dartmouth resident Scott Ferguson, who was polishing the hood on his red 1929 Ford boattail speedster.

“It’s a blast to drive,” he said with a grin. “Lots of fun.”

The car owners sat in camp chairs and answered questions or stood to check out the other cars and chat with the crowd.

“We’ve been doing this for 14 years, so we see a lot of familiar faces year after year,” commented Ferreira.

“And I think that’s my favorite part. Just seeing people coming out to enjoy sharing in a close-knit community … It’s not a sales day — it’s just a fun family day.”

She added, “Everyone has an emotional connection to their vehicle.”

O’Hearn and his Corvette are no exception. But surprisingly, a sign on the front seat said that the car is for sale.

Because the car is so rare — it’s one of fewer than 5,000 built in the first three years Corvettes existed — it’s impossible to find parts for it, O’Hearn explained.

He used to drive the car two to three times a week, but now keeps it in the garage between shows, for fear the parts could break or wear out.

“I’ve had a lot of fun with it,” he said. “But because I don’t drive it, I want to find something that I would like to get in and drive.”