Lauded as the largest antique auto show in America, the Hershey Antique Auto Show attracts perhaps one of the most eclectic groupings of classic vehicles to be found anywhere. This mammoth show spans the grounds surrounding Hershey Park, located in quaint Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Known as "chocolatetown, USA", this little town is nestled amongst the hills of south central Pennsylvania. This small town also happens to house the corporate headquarters for Hershey Foods, Inc., one of the largest candy producers in the country. This Willy Wonkan town, featuring streetlamps shaped like Hershey Kiss candies, also plays home to the Antique Automobile (AACA) Club of America.

Milton Hershey, illustrious founder of Hershey foods, planned the town as a utopian environment for the workers of his chocolate factory. It's ironic then that this show, put on for years by the AACA, could perhaps be an automotive utopia incarnate.

Each year this fall show attracts thousands of people and antique automobiles of all sizes, shapes and types. Within this large exhibition, one of the fastest growing segments is that of the vintage truck.

Long overlooked as serious classic vehicles, pickups' popularity can be attributed to several factors. New trucks are selling at a record pace, positioned to outsell automobiles this year and creating new truck enthusiasts daily. Second, older trucks don't command the premium of classic cars, making them quite a bargain and thus more easily affordable to would-be owners.

Plenty of examples could be seen from the Big 3 truck manufacturers; Ford, Chevy and Dodge. In addition, some trucks perhaps long forgotten were also on hand.

From General Motors, Chevy pickup trucks ranging from 1939 to 1972 made a showing and several examples could also be found for sale in the Car Corral area. From old flare-side pickups and panel vans to mid seventies El Caminos and Cheyenne pickups, the Chevy's were there in numbers. The only GMC spotted was a beautiful red flare-side over in the Car Corral with a magnificent wood bed.

Owners of trucks adorned with the blue oval had the largest brand turnout. Ford trucks ranged from 1928 to 1975. Several 1928 convertible trucks were on hand as were some older commercial pickups including one with a dumptruck style bed. An incredibly restored 1931 woody panel truck sat amidst the show field as did some newer F1s and one of the Ranchero pickup automobiles.

Though not as plentiful as Ford and GM, an impressive collection of trucks by the Dodge Brothers could also be seen. Spanning from 1927 to 1953, these early predecessors of today's Ram and Dakota stood as a reminder of Dodge's continual presence alongside Ford and GM.

Perhaps not as continual as today's brands, there were many more obscure vintage trucks on hand. A bright yellow 1918 Autocar commercial pickup seemed the oldest true pickup inside the show area.

A rare American Austin pickup from 1934 stood out from other trucks nearby due to its incredibly small size.

A Mack Jr. from 1937 was also seen. It stood as a reminder that the Pennsylvania based and now Renault-owned, Mack Truck Company also made lighter-duty trucks beyond the commercial tractor product they are known for today.

A blue 1946 Hudson also gathered gawkers due to its stylistic beauty. Rear wheel covers augmented long flowing fenders. The truck's hood hinged forward rather than the more common backward motion of its period competitors.

A red 1949 International pickup was another reminder of a commercial truck company with roots in consumer pickups. More commonly known for its Scout SUVs, International had enjoyed a significant history in light duty vehicles through the 1970's.

Not known for pickups, Volkswagen was also surprisingly represented. This early '60's Transporter, basically a Microbus with an open bed, featured a rear mounted engine like other early air-cooled VWs including the venerable Beetle.

One brand that is now retired but was represented at the show is Studebaker. A '39 commercial vehicle and a '53 pickup were only two representatives of the brand in the truck area, but played a reminder at the breadth of the auto industry in the earlier part of the 20th century.

While many shows try to cover all the bases, Hershey delivers in its ability to seemingly be all things to all attendees. Even the non-auto or truck enthusiasts will enjoy themselves due to the sheer spectacle of it all. The burgeoning restored truck segment only makes the show that much more sweet (pun intended).

Classics Abound in chocolatetown, USA

Copyright October 2000,
By George Achorn

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