Customs and classics at Ottawa show

These are good days to organize a car show in the nation’s capital.

The latest success story is the Ottawa Classic & Custom Car Show, which returns to the EY Centre for a second straight year May 3 and 4. The people behind this spiritual successor to Autorama, the annual spring car show that was held at Lansdowne Park until the early 2000s, promise the usual bigger-and-better event, and that vow isn’t hard to believe.

For one thing, there’s the venue: the nearly-brand-new EY Centre, located near the airport in the city’s south end, is a much nicer place than the dingy Lansdowne salons that hosted Autorama. With its opening, Ottawa suddenly had an excellent place for an indoor classic car show, and it has done for this event what the landmark downtown convention centre did for the Ottawa-Gatineau International Auto Show, which in March celebrated year number three in its new home.

Show director Dave Brown says last year’s field of about 100 entries, which are eligible for prizes in 13 different categories, drew more than 4,000 auto enthusiasts, and he suspects this year’s show will easily beat that figure.

“For a first-year show, I was very happy with that,” Brown says. “There was a good buzz around the show, (and plenty of positive feedback) from car owners and exhibitors.” A new promotional tactic this year is the show’s Facebook page, which Brown says has attracted a lot of attention, and suggests to him the potential for a larger turnout this year. The use of social media, in addition to traditional radio and print promotion, could help bring in a younger crowd, despite a reported lack of enthusiasm for automobiles among today’s youth compared to previous generations.

The 2014 event will fill a larger portion of the EY Centre with more cars, more vendors and more special attractions than last year’s: look for live music, remote control cars to race, miniature cars for kids to drive, drag racers, monster trucks, and a collection of vintage Ottawa police and fire vehicles. If you’ve ever attended a car show and wished you could take your favourite car or truck home, you may be in luck: a section of this year’s show is reserved for cars that are for sale, so if you’ve got the cash, you could drive away in something much more interesting than you arrived in.

Once again, the show is fundraising for Roger’s House, the local respite care facility for terminally ill children.

The variety of entry categories suggest the show should offer – if you’ll pardon the cliché – something for everyone, from restored early 20th century cars to customized 1940s and 1950s hot-rods, as well as newer modified imports that look familiar to anyone who’s seen any of the seven films in the Fast and the Furious franchise.

“There has to be an area where those demographics (interested in different types of cars) meet,” says Brown. Clearly, the Ottawa Classic & Custom Car Show wants to be that place.

Ottawa Classic & Custom Car Show, May 3-4

Location: EY Centre, 4899 Uplands Dr.

Hours: Saturday, 9 am to 9 pm; Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm

Admission: Adults, $12; youth (7-17), $8; kids six and under, free

For more information, go to

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