30th Annual Lead East Car Show: The World’s Biggest ’50s Party!

Over the Labor Day weekend in Parsippany, NJ the 30th annual Lead East Car Show took place at the Hilton hotel. It’s an event that I’ve heard so much about and have been meaning to go to for a long time, and this year I finally went and I’m glad I did. Read on for a recap and at least two references to Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Held annually in New Jersey, Lead East is the biggest car show in the state, or as they bill it, “the Biggest old car event” and the “Biggest ’50s Party,” and let me tell you they ain’t kiddin’! In addition to over 1,800 vintage and custom cars from over 20 states, Lead East offers concerts, parties, costume contests, food, collectibles for sale, movies playing drive-in style, karaoke, a prom, a sock hop, swing dancing, and of course, some good old fashioned cruising. With all that stuff going on, you don’t even need to be a hardcore fan of cars or the ’50s. It’s a chance to enjoy a fun day out with the whole family, and even the dog. There’s lots of folks who set up shop with tents for the whole 5-day stretch. One of those couples was nice enough to have myself, my father, and his friends at their tent for drinks and food which was awesome, especially the chance to get out of the blazing sun for a while.

Playing with Hot Wheels was one of my past times as a kid, but as I grew up I wasn’t much a gear head. I changed a tire once, but I can’t really tell you what’s what under the hood of my car. I do love looking at cars though, and driving them, especially the few all-time favorites of mine. I enjoy going to car shows like this in hopes of seeing my favorites and some of the rare cars that I had no idea existed. That’s where Father Armpit comes in. My Dad knows every freaking car imaginable and what year they came out.


My Dad merely needs to glimpse a car for a split second and he can spew out all it’s details. Going with him to car shows is fun because he’s so enthralled by them. So many of the cars we saw (and studied) at Lead East hold special memories for him. He could tell you every car he ever owned, my uncle’s first, second, third, and fourth car, and even which cars were purchased by a few celebrities. It’s like putting me in a KISS or WWE museum. I’d never come out. I’d be staring at everything as if I was Cameron Frye at the Art Institute of Chicago. And even though I’m not as fanatical about cars as my father is, I still had a blast.

Stutz – this model was owned by members of The Rat Pack

Although Lead East is a ’50s inspired car show, I had a hunch that I’d be seeing at least ONE of my ’70s favorites. In fact, almost as soon as I walked into the show I walked right up to my all-time favorite car, a 1973 Mustang Mach-1. The color wasn’t my preference, but that wouldn’t stop me from taking it for a spin or rubbing it with a diaper (like Cameron Frye’s dad does!). If you’re into ’70s cars like me, we’re all in luck – the Lead East website states that they have started to allow later model cars in the show on the Sunday installment of the show including 1976 models and earlier. It’s possible that each year they may let accept later models.

1973 Mustang Mach 1

Remember the “Greased Lightning” sequence in Grease? That’s what some of the cars reminded me of. But what was more amazing than all the crazy custom cars and all the little events they had going on at Lead East, was watching these guys and gals relive their high school days. The sight of a car can elicit such glows on people’s faces. The guys started to Remem-mem Rememmemmeber the first time they “parked” with their girlfriend, the first time they raced their car, and the first time they puked in their friend’s back seat. The Back to the Future DeLorean wasn’t there this year, but the thousands in attendance didn’t need it since the event itself was a time machine.

This truck reminded me of something out of Disney’s CARS

I’m Michael Knight with The Knight Rider GPS by Mio


I never said I wasn’t a big dork. After all, I’d have to be one to purchase a nearly $300 dollar Knight Rider Portable GPS for my car in order to pretend that I’m driving around like Michael Knight in KITT. I was excited to see the FedEx girl on Saturday afternoon. Not for the obvious reasons, but because she had my Knight Rider GPS by Mio.

I can’t find many flaws with the Knight Rider GPS. I have it set to a personalized greeting “Hello Jay, where would you like to go today?” delivered in the original KITT voice of William Daniels! So far the directions have been accurate although I haven’t had an opportunity to use it while driving somewhere that I’ve never been to before. That’s the real test that will determine if it’s worth the money. A feature that comes in handy aside from directions is that it highlights any restaurants, gas stations, and other points of interest. I’m a GPS novice so I’m still fairly enthusiastic about the product, but I know before long I’ll probably want to throw it out the window while I’m doing 70 mph down the smelly New Jersey Turnpike.


The GPS module is small, sleek, and lightweight. The red KITT flashing lights pulse when William Daniels is directing you on where to turn. You won’t need to buy any accessories either! It comes fully equipped with a touchscreen, mounting system, rechargeable battery, lighter adapter, and USB cable.

The only minor annoyance is the many warning screens you receive, but I’d imagine that’s the same on other GPS systems. The GPS will tell you constantly that you may encounter toll roads on your route even if you know for a fact that you won’t drive on any! It’ll also warn you not to interface with the GPS while driving. BOO! With all the stuff I see people doing while driving such as reading books, doing their makeup, and trying to dial their cell phones, touching a screen in front of you doesn’t seem like such a crime. Isn’t this device helping me fight crime? By having it tell me not to use it while driving might interfere with me nabbing a criminal mastermind.

I do recommend the Knight Rider GPS especially if you were a fan of the original Knight Rider TV show. This is a pretty amazing and functional collectible. Check out the video and review courtesy of Knight Rider Online:

Then check out the official Mio site for the GPS here:

The premiere of the new Knight Rider series airs tonight on NBC but it’s also featured online if you can’t wait!