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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Fender bender doesn’t slow down top car

James and Donna Vertolli take home the Best in Show trophy for their 1958 Pontiac Star Chief during the 2018 Berlin Cruisers event, last Saturday.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Oct. 11, 2018) New Jersey resident Jim Vertolli didn’t let a minor car accident get in the way of winning the top prize during the Berlin Cruisers event last Saturday.

Vertolli and his wife, Donna, brought their 1958 Pontiac Star Chief to Berlin for the first time, but ran into some trouble on drive down.

“It’s the first time we’ve been this far south and it’s actually the third time we tried to make it here – and we finally got here,” Vertolli said. “We actually stayed in Virginia. Unfortunately, Wednesday night, the night we were leaving [for Berlin], we got into an accident.”

According to Vertolli, a young motorist ran through a stop sign and struck his car.

“We got T-boned and pushed into [the intersection],” he said. “The police helped me pull the fender out and we’re here today.”

Berlin Cruisers judges said the dent, on the driver’s side door, did not affect the results. Vertolli appeared genuinely stunned when the results were announced on Saturday afternoon.

“Two weeks ago, we drove nearly 800 miles to Lake George, New York and we were in the Concours d’Elegance [car show],” Vertolli said. “It was the first time we’ve done that and we got a very nice award from Hemmings [Motor News].

“The car is very unusual and you don’t see it very often,” he continued. “I’ve owned it for 53 years. I drove it to high school when I was 17 years old.”

Vertolli said the car has been through some ordeals, including being stolen in 1971.

“When you own a car 53 years, a lot happens. I had two windshields broken out by kids throwing stones. It’s been quite a trip.”

The full list of winners is:

Best in Show:

James and Donna Vertolli

1958 Pontiac Star Chief


Best Classic:

Mark Brandenburg

1980 Chevy Luv


Best Muscle/Hot Rod:

Ed Evans

1970 Chevy Chevelle SS


Best Truck:

Michael Slotwinski

1962 Chevy Corvair Rampside

Blue and White

Best Pony:

Karen Pope

1966 Ford Mustang


Best Rat Rod:

Steve Chopko

1969 Chevy C10

Red with skeleton in back

Best Antique:

Ronald Piller

1950 Mercury 2DR

Best Unclassified:

Ralph Hitchens JR

1955 Cadillac Ambulance

Blue (Millville Fire Department)

Judges Choice Award:

Awarded in Honor of Michael L. Heishman

Paul and Connie Bayer

1970 Oldsmobile 442