Car lovers get festive at holiday car show

“Gold Digger,” a 1933 Willy’s Gasser, is a retired drag racer owned and restored by Tom and Vicki Antunes. It was one of hundreds of classic cars that parked in downtown La Verne for the annual Cruisin’ La Verne Holiday Car Show on Nov. 18. / photo by Abelina J. Nuñez
“Gold Digger,” a 1933 Willy’s Gasser, is a retired drag racer owned and restored by Tom and Vicki Antunes. It was one of hundreds of classic cars that parked in downtown La Verne for the annual Cruisin’ La Verne Holiday Car Show on Nov. 18. / photo by Abelina J. Nuñez

Romualdo Sanchez
Staff Writer

A salute to classic cars took over La Verne’s historic downtown as cars, car enthusiasts and vendors closed the streets to host Cruisin’ La Verne Holiday Show, with proceeds going to California Highways Patrol’s CHiP’s for Kids Toy Drive. 

Cars of various models, colors and years filled the intersections of Third and D streets Nov. 18. Spectators of all ages came out to enjoy the hottest cars and trucks, while others shopped, sent a letter to Santa or took a picture with  Santa and Mrs. Claus, who was also on hand for the event. 

Many dropped off their unwrapped toys via CHP cruiser. Gifts go to needy kids across Southern California.

A 1934 Ford sedan delivery truck sits across the street from the La Verne Police Department at the Cruisin’ La Verne Holiday Car Show on Nov. 18. Even though the threat of rain kept attendance down, thousands of people still showed up to view hundreds of classic cars and trucks. / photo by Abelina J. Nuñez

The CHP Dodge Charger was not the only newer vehicle on display. On D street near Bonita Avenue, a newer model yellow Chevy Corvette was showcased.  Just a few cars down was Robert Gilbertson’s 1933 Ford Victoria.  

Gilbertson, an Alta Loma resident and Vietnam Veteran, bought the car just two months ago. He bought the car after several cross-country trips on his Harley Davidson motorcycle.

“I was a big Harley Davidson fan, and we would go to Washington, D.C., every year on a run that supports POWs and MIAs, but as we got older, I didn’t feel comfortable anymore,” Gilbertson said. “I decided that this might be something that we might get into (instead).”

Some car connoisseurs entered the show in hopes of winning an award, while others simply wanted to connect with other car enthusiasts.

“I don’t look forward to a trophy or anything,” participant and Riverside resident Don Jones said.  

In front of Jones’ 1940 Ford four-door deluxe sat a black frame with a black and white picture of a mangled car, which was first purchased in a cornfield in Kansas. Jones said that thanks to a friend he was able to find the car he always wanted back in 1999 – which is hard to find. 

“When I first brought that home, I first thought I could do it all in a year for like $20,000,” Jones said. “It was 20 years, and it was 10 times that much.”

Classic cars line D Street for the annual Cruisin’ La Verne Holiday Car Show on Nov. 18. Auto enthusiasts descended on downtown La Verne for the event, which also featured music, vendors, prizes, food and more. / photo by Abelina J. Nuñez

Jones said the car is now equipped with modern amenities and that he will no longer invest in his car. However, he wished he knew the story of the vehicle prior to owning it since people always question the images which show the mangled vehicle penetrated with bullet holes.  

Several cars got people’s attention – especially when pipes and a sign that read “Worst of Show” was placed on top of a yellow 1969 Citroen DS21 Wagon – which is very rare with only 1,500 imported in the U.S.

“That’s the best award you can get,” said Steve McCarthy, owner and Monrovia resident. “It means you’re the weirdest of the weird.” 

McCarthy and his 1969 Citroen DS21 Wagon recently went on a 2,800 mile trip to Olympia, Washington.

McCarthy said that his car does not just stop people at car shows but also when fueling up. 

“People drive by slow and take pictures,” McCarthy said. “If we stop for gas, it takes an extra 10 minutes because people have questions.”

As visitors got the perfect shot, or viewed the cars on display, others got their hair done at Roots Old Town Hair Salon. 

Romualdo Sanchez can be reached at

Vintage vehicles like this 1965 Chevy Impala SuperSport lined the streets of downtown La Verne for the Crusin’ La Verne Holiday Car Show on Nov. 18. The annual car show showcased classic cars and included a toy drive to support the California Highway Patrol’s CHiPs For Kids program. / photo by Abelina J. Nuñez

Romualdo Sanchez is a junior journalism major with a concentration in broadcast journalism and a staff writer for the Campus Times.

Abelina J. Nuñez, senior journalism major, is a photography editor for Campus Times and staff photographer for La Verne Magazine. She previously served as LV Life editor, arts editor social media editor and staff writer. In Fall 2023, Nuñez was La Verne Magazine's editor-in-chief and was previously a staff writer as well. Her work can be found on Instagram @abelinajnunezphoto.

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