Start your engines at Oshawa’s Kars on King

Will McGuirk

It’s not art in the park, but parking art that will be on display at ‘Kars on King.’

The movable feast for the eyes will feature more than 1500 classic cars, custom cars, hot rods and trucks—all works of art—lined up across the four corners in Downtown Oshawa on Friday, August 26, 2022. All vehicles pre-1991 are welcome, although modern muscle cars are also accepted.

More than a century since Colonel Sam McLaughlin first set up his carriageworks, and home to General Motors’ Canadian headquarters, Oshawa has a very long history with the automobile. Creative innovation is at the core of all those who customize and or restore cars, and Kars on King is very much the vehicle for the City of Oshawa’s culture, not only as a manufacturing centre of global renown, but also as a city of garage-based makers and artisans.

The roadside art attractions downtown will also lead you to roam among a display of trucks at the Touch-A-Truck event held at the Tribute Communities Centre on Athol Street the same day, as well as (by donation) access to the Canadian Automotive Museum on Simcoe Street South.

Touch-A-Truck is a free all ages, hands-on event featuring more than 40 trucks of all sizes and purposes, from diggers to big rigs. Donations will be accepted for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South-West Durham.

The Canadian Automotive Museum is offering admission by donation from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Some of the exhibits at the museum include Pixar’s ‘Lightning McQueen,’ a 1914 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost (used by the Prince of Wales during the 1919 tour of Canada), a 1983 DeLorean, a 1975 Bricklin, several McLaughlin-Buicks, as well as a 1908 McLaughlin Model F.

A 1983 Delorean car with the doors opened and interior lights on.
1983 DeLorean at the The Canadian Automotive Museum
Source: Durham Tourism

Local businesses will also be looking to invite the hundreds of onlookers and participants into their establishments. The Biltmore Theatre, for one, will be showing retro-film shorts which will highlight the city’s manufacturing and automotive history. The historic Theatre is located on King. Films begin at 5 p.m.

Live music will be front and centre at Simcoe and King, where the Main Stage will feature acts such as Pauly and the Goodfellas, the Professors of Funk, and Beach Party Boys, starting at 3:30 and going until 9 p.m. There will also be street buskers between sets.

South of the Main Stage in Memorial Park, and opposite the Museum, there are several activities for those not quite old enough to drive, including an animal display, face painting and games.

Blair Trotter, Autofest Nationals Event Manager, says “Autofest began in 1994 and in 2022 will be celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of the 1932 Ford—one of the most popular cars to customize into a hot rod. The 1932 Ford  is a deuce, inspired ‘Little Deuce Coupe,’ by the Beach Boys, as well as the reference in Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Blinded by the Light,’ made famous when covered by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. The 32 is also featured in the ultimate custom car movie ‘American Graffiti.’

The Nationals are international in scope as they draw visitors with vintage vehicles from across the United States; this year they have cars from Massachusetts. The Long-Distance Award has been won by a car which came all the way from Alberta one year.

Image of people walking on King street surrounded by vintage automobiles.

Kars on King in Downtown Oshawa
Source: The City of Oshawa

Although Kars on King takes place on the Friday, the Nationals continue over the weekend at Lakeview Park in south Oshawa.

Car check in begins late morning at the lake. One of the great joys of this event is to hear these cars in action—the hum of the engine, from a subtle purr to a super roar—so stake a spot along Simcoe Street South and enjoy as the cars cruise from the lake, following the old portage route Oshawa was named for, up into the downtown core.

Kars on King, Touch-A-Truck, and tours of the automotive museum; combine all three and you get insight into what makes Oshawa such a distinct city; it is a place based on moving others.

Learn more about this event at the City of Oshawa website.