Spooktacular finish set for cruisin’ New England; a Malibu Milestone

A WINNER: Archie and Lynne DiFlorio’s 1954 Buick Skylark convertible was restored twice and went home with the President’s Award.
A WINNER: Archie and Lynne DiFlorio’s 1954 Buick Skylark convertible was restored twice and went home with the President’s Award. –BILL GRIFFITH

One of the big days on the annual car show calendar is the annual Spooktacular Cruise and Car Show conducted by Cruisin’ New England. It’s a great opportunity for car aficionados and parents (or grandparents) to get together for a day of cars and children.

Today is the 20th annual Spooktacular, which takes place at Memorial Field in Whitman.

For the kids, trick or treating is part of the event.

For car owners, there are Halloween-themed awards, including car displays, as well as regular class awards.

The show benefits the local DARE program.

It’s also the end of Cruisin’ New England’s show series.


Last Saturday, the series had its Super Wheels Showdown on Boston’s City Hall Plaza.

The invitational event is for qualifiers from all over New England, New York, and New Jersey.

“It’s fair to say the 100 cars invited to Boston were culled from 35,000 cars at shows all over the region,’’ says Paul Mennett, who has turned his love of classic cars into the Cruisin’ New England show circuit that includes a magazine and NESN TV show.

“Twenty years ago, when this was a dream, a lot of folks said it was an impossible dream,’’ says Mennett. “I don’t know what my best day was because there are so many, but one was when Mayor Menino said he wanted a show on City Hall Plaza.’’

The judges at Saturday’s show had a difficult job because each car was unique and award-worthy.

Their choice as the Car of the Year was a 1955 Chevrolet pickup truck built and painted by Walt Nelson of Canterbury, Connecticut.

A superb 1954 Buick Skylark convertible owned by Archie and Lynne DiFlorio took Mennett’s first-ever President’s Award. “We bought the car completely restored,’’ says DiFlorio, “then wanted to do a few things which turned into taking the car completely apart and re-restoring a restored car.’’


My personal favorite was an immaculate 1965 Mustang 2+2 fastback owned (and driven) by Paul Breault of Westford.

A crowd favorite was former President Lyndon Johnson’s Lincoln limousine with the Massachusetts vanity plate LBJ.

Malibu’s 50th anniversary

Back in 1964, the Chevy Malibu was introduced as a premium mid-size family sedan, built on an intermediate platform that included the entry-level Chevelle and the El Camino light duty truck.

Over the next 50 years, Chevrolet has had eight generations of the Malibu. However, that run apparently had ended after the fourth-generation model was discontinued after the 1983 year.

With original names being hard to come by, Chevy restored the marque in 1997, bringing the Malibu nameplate back as a front-wheel-drive sedan that was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year.

Now the new Malibu is in the second year of its own fourth generation with standard stop/start technology and an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 259 horsepower.


• The original ’64 Malibu: RWD, 120 horsepower in-line six-cylinder engine, two-speed automatic transmission, single-barrel carburetor, drum brakes, and optional seat belts.

• The 2014 version: FWD, 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic transmission, direct fuel injection, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 10 airbags.


Hyundai is planning a pair of 30-second commercials for next February’s Super Bowl XLVIII. “It’s the ultimate stage for showcasing the brand and our vehicles,’’ says Steve Shannon, vice president of marketing. It’s the seventh consecutive year Hyundai has been part of the game, and the company usually comes with a surprise in its playbook … Meanwhile, Korean sibling company Kia has taken a global approach to sports marketing. It’s the NBA’s official automotive partner, the major sponsor of the Australian Open tennis tournament, the Kia Classic LPGA Tournament, and the official automotive partner of FIFA, which oversees international soccer and next year’s World Cup in Brazil … Rockport has its Fall Classic Car Show and Cruise Day today from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Blue Gate Lane … Also today, Volkswagens take over the lawn at Brookline’s Larz Anderson Auto Museum. The show runs from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and traditionally brings out a few psychedelic hippie vans, plus Bugs, customs, and latter-day tuner GTIs … Old school racers are scheduled to gather in Rochester, MA, next Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the 14th annual New England Speed Society Gathering of the Faithful. The show is for vintage (pre-1960) rods, customs, and vintage race cars. Last year’s show drew more than 500 cars, including a section with more than 100 flatheads … Warning lights: It’s amazing how many icons light up on the instrument panels of today’s cars. Many of us are very happy when they aren’t lit up. So a few might even be ambivalent about Chrysler’s recall of approximately 132,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees to upgrade software that controls instrument-cluster lighting blackouts, issues that apparently resolve themselves anyway when the ignition is turned on and off.

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