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Clifton Car Show Ready to Roll

Custom and classic vehicles, motorcycles, hot rods and fun.

Cool cars, hot chili, the Town of Clifton — put it all together and you get the seventh annual Clifton Labor Day Car Show.

It's set for Monday, Sept. 4, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., with some 300 cars and motorcycles expected to be on display. Double J Sound will spin rockin' 1950s music, and cooks will vie for the state chili championship.

THE SHOW'S hosted by the Clifton Lion's Club and the Custom Cruisers of Northern Virginia, and last year's event raised $15,000 for Hurricane Katrina relief and $3,500 for various charities.

This year, the money will stay closer to home. All proceeds will benefit the trust funds for the families of slain Sully District police officers, Det. Vicky Armel and MPO Michael Garbarino.

"These officers were no strangers to us — they patrolled our streets and neighborhoods," wrote event organizer Jim Chesley to potential sponsors. "Each officer left a spouse and two young children. This is our local emergency and now is the time for all of us to participate. I ask you to donate from your heart; it is the right thing to do."

Contributions are tax-deductible. To donate, send checks payable either to Clifton Lions Club or Custom Cruisers of Northern Virginia, with "police trust fund" written on the memo line, to: Jim Chesley, 7207 Main St., Clifton, VA 20124. For car-show information, call him at 703-830-2129 or see www.customcruisersnova.org.

"I may be dreaming, but I'm aiming for $40,000 in sponsor donations prior to the show, plus $7,000 or $8,000 from the show, itself," said Chesley. "I'm also hoping for lots of individual donations of $5-$25 made at donation boxes at several locations at the show."

"These guys put their lives on the line every day for the average citizen, so that's who should be ponying up," he said. "You normally pay $5 a person to go to a car show, but this one's free. So visitors can just take that five bucks and throw it into a donation box — and they'll have a whale of a show."

Last Labor Day's car show had 250 cars on display, all up and down Main Street, and some 2,500 people attending. This year, said Chesley, the numbers should be even larger, and there'll be lots to see and do.

"It's an open car show, meaning cars from any year may enter," he explained. "A lot are hot rods — because the show's centered around the 1950s — but we'll have cars from the 1920s on up. One year, we had a 1908 Buick."

Highlights will include classic cars from the 1950s, such as Corvettes and Thunderbirds; 1960s and 1970s "muscle cars," like Mustangs, GTOs and Roadrunners; beautiful Porsches from the 1950s and 1960s; and the brand-new Dodge Viper and Charger.

"ALL THE CARS have a slant toward hot rodding — which means you better wear sunglasses when you look under their hoods, because the chrome will blind you," said Chesley, himself a classic-car owner and aficionado. "They have character and style. You'll see the car you used to have — and kick yourself because you got rid of it — or you'll see the car you wanted and never got. It's like a candy store for car-loving kids and adults."

More than 30 trophies and 20 plaques will be awarded. The plaques all read, "Top 20," and will be picked by the vehicle owners, themselves. The trophies will be given in a wide range of categories, including best: GM car, Ford, engine, paint job, hot rod, muscle car, ladies' pick, original, street rod, custom car and interior.

"My favorite category is Best Back Seat," said Chesley. "That's usually won by an early 1950s Buick because they were so huge." Prizes are also given for the best: 1955-57 T-bird, old 1950s Corvette, foreign car — including Mercedes, BMWs Porsches, Jaguars and Bentleys, vintage truck and orphan (a car no longer made, like an Edsel).

Trophies also go to the best original and custom motorcycles, as well as the one with the best paint job. Said Chesley: "There's something for everybody."

The Fairfax County police helicopter unit is slated to do a flyover between 2-3 p.m., take a photo of the show from the air, land and — unless suddenly called away on police business — award a special trophy picked by a group of officers from the Sully District Police Station.

The first 200 registered cars will receive 3x5-inch, metal, dashboard plaques. Each will read, "Cruisin' Clifton" and feature a picture of a 1950s diner with a girl on rollerskates serving food to people in two, old hot rods.

T-shirts for sale at the car show will have the same tableau on the front. On the back, said Chesley, "They'll probably say something like, 'In memory of those who protect and serve — Det. Vicky Armel and MPO Mike Garbarino." The cost is $15 and proceeds will go to the trust funds.

Food sales will also benefit the trust funds. The Clifton Lions Club will cook hot dogs and hamburgers to sell with cold sodas, water and chips. And after the show will be the Virginia State Chili Championship at the Clifton Barn on Main Street, near the railroad tracks. It's sponsored by the Clifton Betterment Association (CBA) and the Wednesday Night Crew. For information, contact Beverly King at 703-492-6194 or HotChiliVa@aol.com.