Darien car show steers in new direction
By Martin B. Cassidy
Darien News Review
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
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It took six months of networking three years ago before David Porter found a 1958 Jaguar XK-150 that hadn’t rusted into oblivion or suffered engine problems.
Porter, a retired financier who lives in Darien, said he bought the car from a United Kingdom-based dealer who found the well-preserved specimen under a tarp in an Illinois garage where it had been parked for more than 40 years.
Porter estimated about only a quarter of the roughly 820 XK-150’s created remain, and many are in poor mechanical condition, he said.
“They tend to be rough cars and they can be in bad shape for driving,” Porter said. “… There are also people who claim that they’ve fully restored cars but they haven’t.”
“I’ve been excited about cars since I was about 2,” Porter said. “My father was a car enthusiast and I remember having a pedal car when I was 4. You tend to feel the interest early. ”
Porter, 63, spent the better part of two days last week getting the Jaguar ready to roll for at the upcoming 10th Annual Darien Collector’s Father’s Day Car Show, which will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk, on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21. The registration fees for the cars on display will go toward establishing a New England Auto Museum in Norwalk.
The car show was previously held at Tilley Pond Park in Darien, which the show has outgrown, said Darien resident Nicholas Ord, a principal board member of the New England Auto Museum effort.
“(The show) is getting bigger and there is a lot more opportunity to make the show bigger in Lockwood Mathews, plus we’re establishing more of a presence in Norwalk,” Ord said.
While also a professional racer of vintage cars, Porter said car shows offer the fulfillment of being able to share a bit of beauty and industrial history.
Certain aspects of getting the car looking its best are tedious, such as polishing the 60 chrome spokes on each of the Jaguar’s tires, Porter said. But sharing the car in its restored glory gives Porter a sense he is fostering a historical appreciation for automotive history.
“These cars and others like it should be seen,” Porter said of the Jaguar. “There are so few of them left, especially in this condition.”
Ord said last week about 40 to 50 owners had registered cars for the show, a number that could jump significantly in the days leading to the show.
The non-profit effort launched in 2008 to establish a New England automobile museum is gaining momentum, Ord said, with the group fundraising for a $65,000 market study on whether a Norwalk museum celebrating Connecticut’s role in automotive history is feasible.
Last week the group received a grant for $13,000 from the City of Norwalk toward the study, and Ord said the group is focusing on building the future museum at 24 Belden Ave., the former site of the Norwalk Mall.
The New England Auto Museum would including rotating exhibits with up to 100 automobiles, historical displays about Connecticut’s history in the automotive industry, and an automotive technology academy in conjunction with Norwalk Community College and the Norwalk Public Schools.
“We’ve been looking in Norwalk now for almost three years and it is our favored location,” Ord said.
In most years, Porter will show the Jaguar at half dozen or more events throughout the region, including at the Lime Rock Raceway in Lakeville.
Last year, Porter raced in the Classic 24 Daytona race, which runs a full day pitting cars with a racing history from eras as far back as the 1960s against each other in a test of automotive endurance. Porter spent part of the race behind the wheel of a 2005 Pescarolo Judd, racing against other cars from the last decade.
The Pescarolo finished fourth in the race overall, after bouncing back from an accident early in the race, Porter said.
“It was an amazing feeling being underneath the lights at Daytona at 4:30 a.m. in the morning,” Porter said.
Admission to the show will be free for visitors, but a donation to the New England Auto Museum is requested. Anyone interested in showing a car can pre-register online at with the fee being $10 per car. More details about the show at www.neautomuseum.org.