Down East 2013 ©
Every other Wednesday night during the summer, Nicky’s Cruisin’ Diner on Union Street in Bangor turns into a scene from American Graffiti. Chuck Berry’s on the sound system, burgers are on the grill, and up to a hundred classic cars crowd the restaurant’s parking lot. It’s a drag strip come true for any hardcore fan of rolling road metal, with ’57 Chevies vying for space with ’67 Mustangs and ’77 Corvettes, with the occasional Studebaker thrown in for good measure.
“Basically, it’s just a place where owners and fans can get together and admire each other’s cars,” says Howard Day, Nicky’s owner. The gatherings began in 1992 as a car competition, with trophies and prizes at the end of the season. “But that year I discovered there was a lot of tension between the Ford people and the Chevy people,” Day recalls, “so the next year it was just show up and hang out. That’s worked out real well for us ever since.”
Day says he has seen everything from Model Ts to brand-new sports cars show up for Cruisin’ night, which starts May 30 this year and continues every other Wednesday night through September 19, depending on the weather. “For the most part, we draw a lot of ’50s and ’60s, the muscle cars and street rods,” Day says. “Every so often, though, we get the odd military vehicle or old fire engine.”
The cars also attract every baby boomer who ever drove a turbocharged ’65 Corvair Corsa and imagined it was a Corvette. “We get a lot of people who are just looking and remembering,” Day says. “There’s a lot of gray hair and good memories out there in the parking lot on Cruisin’ night.”
(Published June 2001)