Autofest classic and muscle car show headed north to Uxbridge after 30 years in Oshawa

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Published January 31, 2024 at 9:14 am

It started with a simple line item from a December 4 Uxbridge Council meeting that went unnoticed by the public and the media: Car Club Proposes Charity Car Show Festival in Elgin Park.

Committee received a request from Motor City Car Club to host a charity car show/festival in Elgin Park during the last weekend of August 2024. The Car Club asked for the fees to be waived for the 2-day event. Committee supported the request in principal and referred the request to parks staff to report back on feasibility.

Eight weeks later the news finally broke – Autofest Nationals, or Autofest – one of Canada’s biggest classic and muscle car shows with car owners from across North America making the trek to Oshawa (as many as 1,500 classic cars are on display each year and an institution in the Motor City since 1994 – is leaving in town and moving to Uxbridge.

Just in time for the 30th anniversary of the show and, more importantly, Oshawa’s 100th anniversary celebrations to boot.

Sad news indeed to the residents of the Motor City who made the pilgrimage to the lake every year, either to the former General Motors headquarters on Colonel Sam Drive or to Lakeview Park at the foot of Simcoe Street, to take in the popular event put on every year by the Motor City Car Club.

Facebook was awash with responses from the public, with some expressing disappointment but most showing anger and looking to place blame for the decision at the feet of local councillors or even the homeless.

  • It feels like an insult to move Autofest from Oshawa to Uxbridge. Cars are such a huge part of our history
  • What a slap in the face to Oshawa and the history of the city
  • I would LOVE to know what brainiac decided this and why
  • The City of Oshawa doesn’t care about its automotive legacy
  • That’s Oshawa for ya. Keeping it going down the tubes of anything good
  • With all the homeless and drugs on the ground downtown is going nowhere
  • Huge mistake…what are they smoking
  • Uxbridge can stick it in the tailpipe
  • Why is Autofest moving? That’s bullshit
  • The City took I think this can only be settled with a good, old fashioned Death Race 2000

The Motor City Car Club has not issued a statement as to why they are leaving Lakeview Park, but there have been issues with parking over the years, despite free shuttle service from the Oshawa Centre to the venue.

Perhaps reduced community operating grants was a factor (the City emphasized that it has provided more than $270,000 of in-kind support provided since 2014) or maybe they have simply outgrown their lakeside venue and figured Elgin Park, home of the Uxbridge Fair, was a better landing spot.

The City of Oshawa took a philosophical approach, calling Autofest one of its “signature events” and wished them luck in their new location.

“Although we are disappointed to learn that Oshawa will not be home to Autofest in 2024, we thank the Motor City Car Club and wish them a successful 2024 event at this year’s location in Durham Region.”

Kars on King, the traditional Friday night kickoff to the two-day Autofest, will still happen in downtown Oshawa August 23 and Councillor Brian Nicholson was quick to correct rumours that the event was also being cancelled.

Kars on King

“While we are certainly saddened that the Autofest Nationals, which have been a fixture at Lakeview Park for the last 17 years, have decided that they have outgrown our lands and have decided to move to Elgin Park in Uxbridge, we want to confirm to all those in our community that Kars on King will continue in our downtown in August of 2024 and beyond,” he said. “The operators of Autofest Nationals (Motor City Car Club) have agreed to work with the City to ensure the same quality event in our downtown and to ensure that the amount and quality of the cars will continue.”

“If you read online, that Kars on King is terminating, please be assured that this is not the case.”

Kars on King features more than 400 classic vehicles lined up on the closed-off downtown streets, along with entertainment for all ages.

The popularity of Autofest has never waned over the years, even when the pandemic put paid to the 2020 show. Organizers just printed t-shirts commemorating the COVID-cancelled event as “the greatest show that never happened” and presented a modified drive-thru show the next year (still in pandemic restrictions) to keep the spark alive.

Nearly $10,000 was still raised during those two lost years for the Grandview Children’s Centre, the charity of choice since the inaugural event in 1994, and the event has raised more than $400,000 for the charity in all.

From Corvettes to Corvairs to Camaros and from Dusters to Daytonas and Mustangs to Model Ts, oh my, Autofest always had it all and the show, as they say in the business, must go on.

This year it’s just going on in Uxbridge.

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