Upper Manhattan Auto Show showcases women and their wheels – New York Daily News

Posted: Wednesday, August 16, 2017


It was a sunny summer day in 2003, and the Mini Cooper S, a remake of one of Britain’s iconic cars, was about to make its Harlem debut. Behind the wheel of the bright, shiny, chili-red compact was Mercedes White.


The Upper Manhattan Auto Show has never been the same.


White, daughter of the legendary tap dancer and Apollo Theater star Howard (Sandman) Sims, made history that day, becoming the first woman to participate in Harlem Week’s spectacular cavalcade of wheels, which features vintage and unique vehicles. She also wowed them.


“My 2003 Mini Cooper S won for Best Eco Car and for most unique, because it had just come out,” said the trailblazer, who grew up in Harlem where her father starred in the Apollo Theater in Amatuer Night and shows.


Lured to the auto show by her enthusiasm for cars, White would enjoy more success over the years, including the People’s Choice Award — the event’s top honor, voted by fans — for her Mini Cooper convertible.


The pioneering legend is now a judge in the 28-year-old show, but she still rides in the event-preceding parade through historic Harlem and displays her cars at the show’s venue on W. 135th St., between Fifth Ave. and Malcolm X Blvd.


This year’s show will be held Sunday. The pre-show parade starts 8:30 a.m. at the Duke Ellington Plaza on Fifth Ave. and 110th St. The caravan will then make its way through historic Harlem to W.135th St. between Fifth Ave. and Malcolm X Blvd. More than 100 vehicles are registered for the 28th annual show, which runs from noon to 4 p.m.


“They got tired of winning, so they made me a judge,” White said with a laugh.


Beyond her personal success, she is lauded for inspiring women to pursue an interest in the previously male-dominated show.

Tammy Jones won the 2007 Upper Manhattan Auto Show with “Tarantula Sky.”

Tammy Jones won the 2007 Upper Manhattan Auto Show with “Tarantula Sky.”

(COURTESY OF TAMMY JONES)


According to Reginald Idlett, a co-founder of the auto show that began 28 years ago, women made up 10% of last year’s 125 participants. “They are so into it that they learn how to work on (the cars). They’re better than me,” he said. “If they have to restore it, they learn how to do that.”


Tammy Jones, who began fixing cars during a 13-year stint in the Army, is one of the women who followed in White’s path. She has also risen to legendary status in the Upper Manhattan Auto Show with three successive People’s Choice Awards for her jaw-dropping, Michael Jackson-themed 2007 Saturn Sky Redline with switchblade doors that she personally reconstructed.


Jones was the standout of the 2012 show, scooping the second of her career People’s Choice Awards and placing first in two other categories.


“I found out about the show from a friend,” said the Harlem resident. “I’ve done car shows up and down the East Coast, from Buffalo, N.Y. to Florida.”


Jones has achieved celebrity status on the show circuit, with appearances on TV programs such as “Hard Parts South Bronx,” a reality show about the car-parts business.


Lovers of vintage cars can admire vehicles like Al Roman’s two-door 1940 Plymouth Road King and 1968 Plymouth Fury 1. Both are former patrol cars in the green, black and white colors of NYPD vehicles of those eras.


“I love doing the parade, then setting up and educating the public on the police cars – that’s what I love best,” said Roman, a former detective whose collection includes four other police cars. “The (show)is a positive thing — great for the community — (and) I’m very happy to be part of it.”


For information, call (877) 427-5364.

Tammy Jones, who began fixing cars during a 13-year stint in the Army, is one of the women who followed in White’s path.

Tammy Jones, who began fixing cars during a 13-year stint in the Army, is one of the women who followed in White’s path.

(COURTESY OF TAMMY JONES)


Idlett, a co-founder of the auto show that began 28 years ago, women made up 10% of last year’s 125 participants. “They are so into it that they learn how to work on (the cars). They’re better than me,” he said. “If they have to restore it, they learn how to do that.”


Tammy Jones, who began fixing cars during a 13-year stint in the Army, is one of the women who followed in White’s path. She has also risen to legendary status in the Upper Manhattan Auto Show with three successive People’s Choice Awards for her jaw-dropping, Michael Jackson-themed 2007 Saturn Sky Redline with switchblade doors that she personally reconstructed.


Jones was the standout of the 2012 show, scooping her second People’s Choice Award and placing first in two other categories.


“I found out about the show from a friend,” said the Harlem resident. “I’ve done car shows up and down the East Coast from Buffalo, N.Y., to Florida.”


Jones has achieved celebrity status on the show circuit. Her TV appearances include “Hard Parts South Bronx,” a reality show about the auto parts business.


Lovers of vintage cars can admire vehicles such as Al Roman’s two-door 1940 Plymouth Road King and 1968 Plymouth Fury 1.


Both are former patrol cars in the green, black and white colors of NYPD vehicles of those eras.


“I love doing the parade, then setting up and educating the public on the police cars that’s what I love best,” said Roman, a former detective whose collection includes four other police cars. “The (show) is a positive thing — great for the community — (and) I’m very happy to be part of it.”


For information, call (877) 427-5364.

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HARLEM WEEK

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