Citizens, start your engines!

Car savvy folks in the area are about to rev up their engines as the Matthews Chamber of Commerce gets ready for its 17th annual Matthews Auto Reunion & Motorcycle Show.

The show coincides with the Matthews Alive! festival on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3, and takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of the Matthews Town Hall on Matthews Station Street. The event, which offers motorcycle enthusiasts a category of their own for the first time, features an awards ceremony beginning at 3 p.m., live music, raffle prizes and more.

Mark Tantillo, owner of Certified Collision Services in Matthews, is one of many who will enter a vintage car in the show this year. With more than 30 years of experience painting, detailing and doing vehicle body work, Tantillo has a knack for fixing up old cars.

“I love fixing up vintage cars,” he said. “I’ve just had a love affair for cars since I’ve played with Matchbox cars.”

Several years ago, Tantillo decided to start fixing up his 1973 Dodge Dart. He worked on the car for more than six months, doing the body work, painting, cleaning and detailing the car until it was a drivable, cream-colored piece of vintage eye candy.

And that’s what he’ll enter in this year’s Chamber Auto show. He’s encouraged three other friends who recently fixed up their old cars to enter as well. Two have already committed to enter: a burgundy/wine 1964 Chevy Malibu and a blue 1971 Firebird Formula, and the third friend may enter an older Chevy Silverado pickup truck.

“We didn’t actually (restore) them for the show, but it’ll be fun to show off our work together,” Tantillo said.

Tina Whitley, executive director of the chamber, said organizers expect to see between 150 and 200 vehicles – cars and trucks of all shapes, sizes, colors and ages – enter the contest, as well as 25 to 50 motorcycles. Although the auto show has featured motorcycles in the past, this is the first year a separate show will be held for motorcycles. Hendrick Automotive sponsors the car and truck show and Harley Davidson of Matthews sponsors the motorcycle show.

Professional judges attend the show and select the first and second place winners in 14 different categories of cars and trucks and five categories of motorcycles. Both shows have a best-of-show prize, and the cars and trucks show also has a people’s choice award.

For Tantillo, it’s not about winning. It’s about simply having a good time.

“I just enjoy getting the car out and using it, meeting all the different people, getting into conversation, seeing the children – kids love the cars,” he said. “It’s good to see the old stuff come alive. It’s good to help support the town and keep the love here in Matthews and keep the spirit alive.”

The cost to enter a car or truck in the show is $15 for pre-registered vehicles and $20 the day of the event. Day-of registration takes place between 8 and 11 a.m. Motorcycles cost $10 to register. Registration fees go to cover the general costs of the event.

Whitley said the event also is a way for the chamber to give back to the community.

Proceeds from raffle ticket sales will once again benefit the Matthews Police Department. In the past, the department has used the cash to buy bulletproof vests, automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, and other supplies. For the past two years the money has supported the department’s Explorers program.

“We’ve always given the proceeds from our raffle to (the Matthews Police Department). That’s an important part of our event,” Whitley said. “We hope people will come out enjoy the cars and the day, listen to the music and just relax.”

Raffle tickets cost $5 each or $10 for three. Prizes will be raffled off every half-hour and include special services from Hendrick Automotive, Harley Davidson and other local auto-related businesses.

Whitley hopes Matthews Alive! and the Democratic National Convention draw more people to the event, which has seen more than 5,000 people attend in the past. And she’s pleased that a twist of fate may bring even more people to the show.

“I’m very excited that (the Democratic National Convention) canceled activities they had planned at the (Charlotte Motor) Speedway,” Whitley said. “So now that they’ve canceled those, maybe they’ll trickle down here.”

Want to enter?
The cost to enter a car or truck in the 17th annual Matthews Auto Reunion & Motorcycle Show is $15 for pre-registered vehicles and $20 the day of the event. Day-of registration takes place between 8 and 11 a.m. Motorcycles cost $10 to register.

Proceeds from raffle ticket sales will benefit the Matthews Police Department.

For more information or to download a registration application, visit

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