The Ol’ Marais River Run car show took off about the time the Over The Road Gang limited entries to 1972 and older.
The car show grew from a mere 150 cars in its first year in 1986 to more than 2,000 entries.
The Over The Road Gang, the car show organizers, made the change in 2000. Before that it was an open entry show.
“There was a pretty good discussion about it,” Ralph Finch, the club’s president and one of the car show founders, said. “The bad thing was most of the guys that build cars did not want to sit next to a car that somebody just went to the showroom floor and bought. That is why we decided to do a cutoff date.”
Finch said 1972 was selected because some of the national car shows picked that year.
“That has always been considered the end of original muscle car era,” Jack Barnhart, past president of the club, said. “The ’73s were noticeably different.”
Finch said there was a time when the gas crunch started in earnest.
“In ’73 they started detuning the motors,” Finch said. “We figured ’72 was the best place to cut it off.”
The Ottawa show picked up steam in the early 2000s.
“In ’98 we started cruise night,” Finch said. “We had the [‘72] cut off in 2000. Between the two things together, that is what made this thing go ahead and build to where it is today.”
Barnhart echoed those sentiments.
“The numbers went up immediately,” he said. “The people who own these classic cars don’t like to compete with newer cars in shows.”
Some of the more popular classic muscle cars in these shows include Camaros, Thunderbirds and Mustangs.
Barnhart said those vehicles are sought after by car enthusiasts.
“I personally look at muscle cars,” Barnhart, who graduated from high school in 1974, said. “Mustangs have always been a classic favorite. People looking for muscle cars get what they want or what they like. Other people buy what they had in high school or what they liked in high school.
“Obviously, a classic muscle car does not compete with a muscle car of today.”
Finch said muscle cars back in the day were popular.
“Every manufacturer had a muscle car,” he said. “It was a fun time. You could buy a nice brand new muscle car for $3,000 at that time. They were affordable. Every car looked different.”
Barnhart said everyone has an opinion on which classic cars are their favorite.
“We enjoy seeing the unique cars,” Barnhart said. “There is going to be a group for muscle cars. There is going to be a group for unrestored cars.
“A lot of members of our club are street rod people. They want a car that has been restored not exactly original, but for how they wanted it [to look].”