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Cars line up for keepsake photo northwest of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the 2006  Orhan Car Tour.

Featured Article

Driving Each Other Closer

Area Car Shows Attract Generations of Enthusiasts Seeking to Share the Day and Swap Stories

Article by Lauri Gross

Photography by Provided

Originally published in Potomac Lifestyle

Ask Bill Sessler about his cars and he’ll start his story in the 1870s. In 1942 Bill’s dad came to Virginia from a family farm in Massachusetts with origins that date to the 1870s. “The farm is still there,” says Bill, before he explains the path his dad took from farmer to businessman by way of space rented in the same building as a Manassas Pontiac dealership.

“I worked with my dad in parts and service,” Bill says of the Pontiac dealership where his dad had become a minority stockholder. “As a result of my dad going into the car business, I got interested.”

In 1962 the dealership acquired a 1933 Pontiac. “Dad liked it,” Bill recalls. “I thought it was cool. The company owed him money so dad took the car [as payment]. Its been in my family ever since. My dad and I restored it completely. We won a bunch of awards with it. We mostly drove it to car shows.” 

While Bill’s tale is unique, similar stories unfold at car shows and events everywhere, including an impressive slate of annual shows around the DMV. The year that shall not be named decimated the recent calendar of area car shows, but in 2021 there is new hope that these community events might take place once again.

The Edgar Rohr Memorial Car Meet in Manassas is one that Bill Sessler regularly attends. Except for 2020, the show is held every September on the lawn of the Manassas Museum near historic Old Town Manassas. The show is sponsored by the Bull Run Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA). Bill has been involved pretty much since the show’s inception nearly 50 years ago and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Bull Run Region.

Each year, the event draws about 170 vehicles all built in1995 or earlier, with antique and modified cars, trucks and street rods, as well as post-1995 rare, exotic or limited-production cars. The Edgar Rohr Memorial Car Meet also includes a flea market, Model T Ford assembly demonstrations and more. Edgar Rohr was the first president of the Bull Run Region of the AACA and prior to that was the AACA national president. For more information, please visit

Dr. Pete Pandolfi is the current president of the Bull Run regional club. His car collection includes a 1991 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur II and a 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible, and he’s owned many others over the years. His home includes a collection of more than 1,000 model cars. Of the Edgar Rohr event, he says, “Most owners are a walking encyclopedia of information on the car and they all love to talk about them.” He encourages families to attend together. “Kids should be exposed to how things used to be to get an appreciation for where they are now,” he explains.   

Dr. Pandolfi, a retired US Air Force officer, is a member of Crusin-4-Heroes, a group of mostly veterans that shows cars at local events to raise money for the Fisher House, which Dr. Pandolfi says is “A military version of Ronald McDonald House. All the funds we raise go to the charity.”

Another local event, the Orphan Car Tour is an annual afternoon driving tour for "orphan" cars at least 25 years old. “Orphans” were produced either by now-defunct manufacturers or the discontinued divisions of still-existing companies. The tour began in 1990 and takes place in early June in different locations around Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The tour's purpose is simply to encourage the driving enjoyment of antique orphan vehicles.

Attracting about 60 cars each year, the tour is 30 to 60 miles long and passes through picturesque rural areas and quaint towns. There’s also a written quiz for drivers and/or navigators, plus several stops at historic sites, museums, etc. Correctly answering the quiz questions requires paying close attention to sights along the route. The event concludes with a buffet meal and awards for things like the oldest car and the driver experiencing the worst misfortune during the day.

John Battle is the tour publicity coordinator. He explains that the Orphan Tour is a collaborative effort by several local chapters of national “orphan” clubs, including clubs representing Packards, Studebakers, AMC-built cars, DeSotos and Hudsons. (More at

Each October, about 10,000 car enthusiasts flock to the Rockville Antique and Classic Car Show held at the Rockville Civic Center Park. Amanda Knox of the City of Rockville Recreation and Parks Department Special Events Division says the show attracts about 550 cars, the most of any non-juried mid-Atlantic show. For more information, please visit

Thirty-two car clubs are represented during the Rockville event, which also includes a flea market, moon bounce, live music and more. Amanda says, “Everybody of all ages comes. A grandfather will come with his son and grandchildren. That’s one of my favorite parts, the camaraderie.” The owners, she says, “Want nothing more than for someone to come up to them and ask about their car. They are the heart and soul of the show.”

Some of the many local car events include the National Capital Region Mustang Club Show, the Historic Fredericksburg Region AACA Show, the Britain on the Green Car Show in Alexandria, the Sully Historic Site Antique Car Show in Chantilly and the Hershey Region of AACA Eastern Fall Meet (a bit farther away but popular among car enthusiasts in the DMV).

  • A pair of Packards crosses a vintage bridge near Jarrettsville, Maryland during the 2014 Orphan Car tour. Photo by Ross Miller.
  • Cars line up for keepsake photo northwest of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the 2006  Orhan Car Tour.
  • A Kaiser and a Packard drive through the State Arboretum of Virginia near Boyce, Virginia on the 2005 Orphan Car Tour.
  • A 1912 Flanders gets ready to leave the Howard County Fairgrounds at the start of the 2015  Orphan Car Tour.  Photo by Ed Lemanski
  • Every September, the Edgar Rohr Memorial Car Meet in Manassas draws about 170 vehicles. Photo courtesy the Bull Run Region, AACA.
  • Cars like this Ford Model A are displayed at the Edgar Rohr Memorial Car Meet in Manassas.  Photo courtesy the Bull Run Region, AACA.
  • Attendees at the Edgar Rohr Memorial Car Meet in Manassas check out a Mustang and Corvair. Photo courtesy the Bull Run Region, AACA.
  • Crowds love the Edgar Rohr Memorial Car Meet for the variety of cars, plus other attractions. Photo courtesy  of the Bull Run Region, AACA.
  • This vintage Lincoln Touring car was a fan favorite at the Edgar Rohr Memorial Car Meet in Manassas. Photo courtesy of the Bull Run Region, AACA.