Cars that would have made many adults’ great-grandfathers the envy of their peers as young men were on display yesterday at the Sully Antique Car Show in Chantilly.
More than 400 antique cars manufactured between 1906 and 1972 were polished up and rebuilt to mint condition as if they were waiting for buyers on the floor of yesteryear dealerships.
They also competed for awards in 34 classes of cars on the grounds of the Sully Historic Site, a 1700s-era plantation.
A 1911 Stanley Steamer owned by a McLean man won the Sully Staff Award, one of the most prestigious.
“It was big, it had a lot of ornamentation, it ran on steam,” said Barbara Ziman, coordinator of the show. “It’s just totally unique.”
About 5,000 people attended the show to share what Mrs. Ziman called “a nostalgic connection” with the old cars.
She said the pleasant weather contributed to the strong attendance at the 31st annual show.
Among those displaying their cars was James B. Cross, a Leesburg construction contractor who owns 15 antique cars.
He stood beside his 1907 Ford Model R explaining to visitors how he rebuilt the car he bought for $25,000 seven years ago from a hardware store owner. It cost $426 in 1907.
Mr. Cross spent his own money and two years of his evenings restoring the dilapidated car into a machine that Henry Ford might have driven to impress his friends.
“Some people enjoy sitting down and watching a ballgame,” Mr. Cross said. “I enjoy working on cars.”
He wiped a smudge off the radiator, and the faces of passers-by reflected in the brass.
From the passenger cab back, the car looks only slightly different from a horse carriage. Only the four-cylinder “jug engine” in front makes it seem anything like a modern car.
It has kerosene lamps for headlights. Much of the cab is made of wood painted black with cream-colored trim.
Mr. Cross keeps his antique cars in a sealed garage with a dehumidifier to keep out moisture that might tarnish the wood or metal. The oldest is a 1906 Buick. The most modern is a 1969 Corvette.
“I do all the restoration myself,” he said. “I like the challenge of it. I like driving them.”
Nearby, a 1917 Ford Model T departed, sounding like a broken vacuum cleaner.
Aficionados of the old cars earn little profit on their investment.
Instead, “They just enjoy them,” said Woody Williams, president of the George Washington Chapter of the Model A Ford Club, which has about 250 members in the Washington area.
Visitors to the antiques show had various reasons for their interest in the cars.
“They represent an era,” said Milt Richards, a 79-year-old retired engineer from Alexandria.
Jeff Bolle, a 23-year-old George Washington University graduate student, said, “How they kept 1911 and 1912 cars in operating condition is amazing.”
He saw the 1911 Stanley Steamer leaving as he arrived.
“It was cool,” he said.