By John Baeke

Oct. 20 wasn’t just another beautiful Saturday in Paradise. Spearheaded by Donna Mahlmeister and Pastor Bob Rush, the good folks of the First Baptist Church of Solvang did the uncommon. Rather than an old-fashioned potluck, the little church on the hill decided to spread the good message with a car show. Attendance was free, so a nice gathering of fans was guaranteed.

Mike Delfino of Cambria deserved the People’s Choice award, as his ’32 Ford roadster was stunning to all the senses.

Lured by the promise that all entry fees and contributions would be donated to local youth programs, a nice collection of gleaming muscle cars (plus one dusty ol’ truck) gathered to dazzle in the California sun.

The church thought of everything, providing arts and crafts for the tykes and a bazaar of goodies for other folks.

Apparently, MOPAR (the acronym for any Chrysler muscle car) aficionados had targeted this affair, as their brood of Challenger-Hemis plus one Magnum and the Sheriff’s D.A.R.E. Charger accounted for the majority of the two dozen show cars.

The valley’s grand ol’ man of hot-rodding, Steve Lykken, was there with his bad ’32 Ford HiBoy. Jeff Schneider reminded everyone why Pontiac shall forever be a collector’s favorite with his beautiful 2001 Trans Am.

The centerpiece of the event was organizer Donna Mahlmeister’s one-of-a-kind orange Dodge Challenger with its Lamborghini-style scissor doors.

Everyone was a judge, as awards were given for People’s Choice (Mike Delfino and his Ford hot rod); Pastor’s Choice (Jake Panada and his Ford Taurus); and Kid’s Choice (David Mahlmeister and his Dodge Demon). The kids apparently had the best eye for perfection, as the official judges agreed, awarding Mahlmeister and his awesome Dodge the Best of Show