Nearly 600 cars are expected at the April Action Car Show this weekend.

Photo courtesy of Robert Riberia/Moab Area Travel Council

Dennis Brown got his 1940 Ford Deluxe Coupe in 1984.

He rebuilt the thing, but it has 90,000 miles on it because Brown, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., drives it so much.

It’s just that the orange, two-door beauty is perfect. Even Brown’s wife, Sherry, thinks so. It’s her car, too, Brown points out.

During the summer, they make the 150-mile trip across the Rocky Mountains to Denver about twice a month, to show off their Ford and check out the other cars from yesteryear.

But it’s Moab’s April Action Car Show that might get the biggest circle on their calendar.

This will be the Browns’ 15th year at the show.

The event starts informally Friday when cars and their drivers start showing up and showing off. It begins officially Saturday with registration in Swanny City Park at 9 a.m.

The way it works is this: Cars line up and wait their turn for a spot on the grass at the park, 400 North and 100 West. Drivers pay $40; many have their sights set on a coveted spot, so they show up early.

Organizer Jim Mattingly is there at 4 a.m. The cars and their drivers would come in then, if he’d let them, he says. He’s not joking.

Once the cars are in the grass, the people come. They walk and talk and remember when they were kids and wanted a car like that.

About 10 vendors sell food, T-shirts and car-related items. A musician plays. Two high school students receive scholarships.

Afterward, the informal parade begins. People line the streets. The cars drive by.

“I enjoy all of it. I really do,” Brown said. “I like the car show, and I like cruising at night. Thousands of people line up along Main Street watching the cars. You get to see all the cars … you get to see them running and driving and that’s always cool.”

About 500 to 600 cars take part in the show every year, said Mattingly, the Moab TV producer who took over the April Action Car Show 10 years ago. The event is in its 20th year.  

People come primarily from Utah, Colorado and Arizona. But they also come from faraway places such as Georgia, North Dakota, California, Washington and Oregon.

Two years ago, the car show was featured on the Speed Channel with Dennis Gage, Mattingly says.

It’s a big economic boost to the town. People like Dennis and Sherry Brown come in on Thursday. They stay overnight until Sunday. They eat local food, they go up to hike in Arches National Park.

They like Moab. They leave with plans to come back.

“The idea of our show is just to come here and have fun,” Mattingly said. “It’s a lot low-key. It’s the way I like it.”