Conspicuous consumption may be down because of the economy, but at the Viva Italia car show in Harbor East Sunday it was far from out. On display were quarter-of-a-million-dollar Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis and other Italian marquee cars painted in bright yellow and bright red, and in the case of a 1936 Fiat Topolino, flames.
The show was the fifth annual event in support of the Children's Guild, a nonprofit group that aids kids with emotional, behavioral and mental challenges. Eighty-two car owners and motorcyclists came from Maryland, Virginia, Washington, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to lend support, said Jeanette Scott, the event registrar and a committee member. Sponsors of the free show, including title sponsor Mr. Tire, brought along five more cars.
Scott and her husband, TW Scott, drove their yellow 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo from Baldwin to the show because they wanted to help the charity, and maybe show off the car a little. In no time, he had the hood up and the doors open for a steady stream of gawkers.
Scott said he restored old cars for years as a hobby and saved up the proceeds so he could afford the Lamborghini. He picked this one because he liked the styling and the handling, he said.
"People do stare," he said of the car, which sports a license plate that says orotoro, Italian for "gold" and "bull." "There aren't that many around here."
Onlookers could buy VIP passes, various foods and raffle tickets for prizes.
Donavan Medley, a 6-year-old who came with his father, Baltimore firefighter Ceasar Medley, was partial to a white one a couple of cars down.
"As a single parent, I'm always looking for events to take him to, especially ones with cars and trains," the elder Medley said. "My son loves cars and trains."
Adults seem equally taken. Donna and Alan Stokes of Parkton regularly go to shows. They have a collection of street rods at home, but she said they like to come see the "exotic" cars. "We love Formula One racing, and we collect. And there is just something about these cars," said as she gazed at Lance Barley's Fiat Topolino.
Barley likes taking his 9- and 10-year-olds for rides, one at a time, in the two-seater.
"It kind of looks like a Go Kart, so the kids think they should be able to drive it," Barley said of the Topolino, which means "little mouse."
For those unable to buy an exotic car, Rodney Wren, president of Movie Car Mania, had some miniature models for sale in a tent. He carried everything from $5 Batmobiles to $300 Ferrari 500 F2s.
"I'm a collector and I don't even have one of those," he said of the Ferrari. "Not yet."