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
1980 Chevy Luv
Best Muscle/Hot Rod:
1970 Chevy Chevelle SS
1962 Chevy Corvair Rampside
Blue and White
1966 Ford Mustang
Best Rat Rod:
1969 Chevy C10
Red with skeleton in back
1950 Mercury 2DR
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