Not being able to attend events or social gatherings this year has been a real bummer, so when I heard that the Riverside Spring Meet 5 show had been rescheduled to the fall, I knew I had to make it out to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
This being one of my first officially sanctioned car events since COVID struck this year, I was on edge with a 2-stroke-like mixture of excitement and anxiousness, for obvious reasons. But thankfully, much of my anxiety was alleviated by the fact that the event organizers had followed the latest CDC guidelines along with all of the local health guidelines.
If you’re unfamiliar with Riverside events, let’s just say you’ve really been missing out. At this event – renamed the Riverside 5 Fall Meet – some of the best food trucks catered to a huge variety of people and cars in an amazing venue, with true southern hospitality.
One of my favourite times at a car show is the early morning roll-in. Not only do you get a preview of some of the best cars of the event, this time of the day tends to have some of the best natural light.
A quick cup of tea later (yes, with milk my British counterparts) and some really interesting machines had started to turn up.
As the morning rolled on and the show start time inched closer, the morning light only got better. Was it worth the lack of sleep and a Red Bull-fueled diet? Absolutely.
Like most shows, Riverside has both indoor and outdoor elements, but unlike most shows they don’t charge admission for spectators. Being completely open to the public, many people from all walks of life had a perfect introduction into our wild world of cars.
Every single car that registers for Riverside has to be approved, but the event organizers don’t play favourites. From the vibe of the show, it was extremely well curated.
While I had seen a few of my favourites during roll-in, there was a good dozen or more that I wanted to take a closer look at before the show became too packed.
This included one of the best Chevy Astro vans I have ever seen. This has definitely been added to the list of vehicles that I don’t need but most certainly want.
Next up was this phenomenal Mercedes-Benz 190E on two-piece BBS Motorsport wheels, in my all-time go-to colour combo – white on white.
Yes, I may be biased as I own a W201 and think that they’re one of the best-looking cars ever made, but so many details on this one were personalised. From the parking marker to the exhaust tips, each piece had its own flair and style.
Even in my semi-awake state at 6:00am during roll-in, it was impossible to ignore the sound of turbocharged LS idling. To find out that the sound was coming from a Mazda Miata was even more welcoming. I’m not a huge Miata guy, mostly for the fact that I don’t fit in them, but seeing this one set up as a drag car had me fizzing.
An LS with a turbo the size of my head along with an idle that rattled my teeth is an awesome upgrade from the stock 1.8L four-cylinder.
As this particular engine is capable of putting down anywhere from 800 to 1,100hp, a parachute has been fitted, along with some meaty tires to hook up the gobs of torque and keep the car somewhat straight.
Just as I found myself on the track of not wanting to buy anything else, and therefore not needing to deal with storing more cars in Los Angeles, I stumbled upon this FC3S Mazda RX-7 convertible on classic Panasport G7 wheels.
For a long time, I thought convertibles weren’t for me and were inferior to other cars. Then I relocated to the only place that has summer and sun all year round with crazy traffic, and I’ve slowly come around to the idea of being at the beach while sitting in traffic.
And looking mighty fine at the same time. Not only was the wheel fitment and colour the perfect choice, but this RX-7 also had a two-tone matching interior, which to me was the absolute cherry on top.
Maybe it was because I was in the South and folk are known to be more friendly around these parts, or maybe everyone was just happy to be out of the house and interacting with others, but I met so many good people at this event that it’s unreal to think about.
From the those putting on the event, to those with cars, and those and catering food for the masses, everyone was passionate about being there.
Riverside’s tagline reads “Come for the cars, stay for the people” and this year’s event lived up to that and more. BBQ, cars, good people, fantastic weather, and southern accents – maybe it’s time to move to Tennessee…
While I ponder that thought, make sure you check out all the gallery images below.