The Do’s & Don’ts of Classic Car Cruise-in & Show Etiquette
One of the best things about warm weather is seeing all the classic cars escaping from their winter slumber and traveling to local car cruise-ins. For those who are beginners in the local car show circuit, I’ve already discussed what items you should bring. More important than that, here are some do’s and don’ts of car show attendance, since a person’s behavior can ruin or improve the event for everyone.
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Involve your children
Unattended youngsters can quickly become troublemakers — especially at an event showcasing rare, pristine automobiles!
If you bring your kids, keep them close the whole time, making sure they’re not touching things or going places they shouldn’t. It’s your responsibility to make sure your child is acting appropriately and learns respect for other people’s stuff.
However, that doesn’t mean you should leave them at home or stuck in the car! Make the car show a memorable experience for everyone by showing your family the cars on display, pointing out fun aspects, letting them take pictures on their phones (if allowed), and sharing your personal stories. This is a great way to inspire a love of cars in your child!
Control your pets
Similar to children (I know, it’s a terrible comparison to make), it’s your responsibility to make sure your furry companions are not getting into trouble.
Don’t allow Fido to hop in someone’s ’57 Chevy or take a leak on the rims. Dogs have sharp nails that can effortlessly damage a car’s body paint. If the car owner doesn’t like animals, keep it away; this isn’t the time to change someone’s mind. And by all means, don’t let your pup off the leash!
Check the event website or call beforehand to see whether pets are even allowed at the car show.
Be polite and helpful
Part of the appeal of attending a car cruise-in is getting to converse with other enthusiasts. So, be prepared for strangers to start talking to you. If you’re asked a question (or don’t get a nice answer when you ask a question), remain respectful and patient. Don’t get into a war of egos to make a point.
If you see unacceptable behavior, report it or tell the person politely; they might not realize what they’re doing is inappropriate. Basically, treat others with the same respect you’d wish to receive.
Don’t steal things
In case you were never told this growing up — don’t take things that aren’t yours! There’s no good reason to take other people’s belongings out of their cars, even if the doors are open and the top is down. Participants have a lot of trust in leaving their vehicles unlocked and unattended, so don’t ruin the day for them.
If you see someone else doing something they shouldn’t, report them to event directors.
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Don’t be critical
You’re going to see a lot of impressive vehicles at car cruise-ins… and some not-so-impressive ones. If a showpiece isn’t up to your standards, or if you’re not a fan of the model, don’t mock it. Keep your mouth closed if you have disagreeable things to say.
And don’t be a jerk by harping on the flaws of a perfectly good car that someone put love and effort into. You never know if someone nearby is the owner of it and could overhear you.
Respect surrounding businesses
Many local automotive events are hosted by gracious businesses in their parking lots or sponsored by companies who funded the gathering.
Don’t just show up, walk around, and leave if a local business is participating in the event. They didn’t have to do so, so give them your time, attention, and patronage in return. Go to their booth, hear their spiel, and buy some of their products — especially if they’re not charging admission for the event.
If nothing else, treat nearby non-participating businesses with respect. Don’t make this event the last one held there.
Advice for show participants
If you’re bringing your car to the cruise-in, you should arrive on time, respect other cars’ parking spaces, follow directions, don’t flip out over people touching your car (you brought it out in public after all), and — for Pete’s sake — no burnouts!
Attending community gatherings and seeing your neighbors’ vintage vehicles is a wonderful way to make new friends. Just make sure you don’t inadvertently ruin the event for other people!
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.