A UVU Classic
A quarter-century later, the UVU Auto Expo is still revved up and raising money for scholarships
By Jim Rayburn ‘87
The “Thunder Pig” captivated everyone who passed. Gleaming in the late-spring sun, Dustin and Jen Gray’s fire-engine red 1958 Chevy 3100 series step-side pickup sat with hood raised to reveal its detailed and powerful 454 engine, doors open to showcase its meticulous leather interior.
The Grays’ custom classic, which took more than 10 years to restore, was one of nearly 800 vintage autos and hot rods spread across the lawns of Thanksgiving Point this past May at the 25th Utah Valley University Auto Expo & Swap Meet — an exhibit that attracted more than 9,000 spectators to survey the region’s finest in automobile remodeling craftsmanship.
“Everyone is fascinated by cars,” says Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a regular attendee at the annual UVU Auto Expo. “A lot of us grew up in the age when people did a lot of their own work on their own cars and were always tinkering with different ways to fix them up, so we like looking at vintage cars because we feel a little vintage ourselves. It brings back a lot of memories and takes us back in time a little bit. And it’s fun to imagine how we’d fix up a certain car if we had the opportunity or wonder how it would ride.”
Fascination and attention are exactly what UVU hopes the annual Auto Expo brings. Originated in 1983 with a display of about 70 cars, the UVU Auto Expo has grown into one of the more popular street rod and classic car exhibits in Utah. Few car shows display a larger variety of vehicles and attract more spectators.
“This is as big as any event that UVU stages on an annual basis,” says Don Wilson, chair of UVU’s Department of Automotive Technology.
For 25 years, the UVU Auto Expo has been a showcase for the institution’s continued presence in the auto trades and a source of revenue to fund scholarships. And for thousands of people, it’s a chance to show off that cherry classic car.