11 Items To Bring To A Car Show That’ll Make Your Day Easier

Going to car shows has shown to be one of society’s favorite pastime activities for over 30 years. They’re fun to see as a spectator and they’re even more fun when you can take your own classic car to show off to everyone there. Though these are fun activities to attend, it can get a little stressful making sure you have everything you need, especially if your registering a car, and you probably want everything to look perfect. I’ve been able to compile a list of helpful things to take to a car show that will make your day much more smooth.

So, what are the things you should bring to a car show? Here are the best things to bring to a car show:

  • Cleaning supplies for your car
  • Extra towels
  • Antifreeze/coolant
  • Folding chairs
  • Pictures/photo album
  • Canopy tent
  • Awards and trophies if any
  • Sunscreen
  • Cash
  • Cooler with drinks
  • Set of extra basic tools

I have owned several classic cars and have been to hundreds of car shows throughout my life time. I’ve been able to get a good idea of what people like to see at car shows as well as what to take if you are registering you car in a car show. There is a specific reason I’ve listed each item and each piece is important during your big day at a show.

Cleaning Supplies

If you’re taking your classic car in to a car show, it’s important to make it look as clean as possible so you can show off it’s true nature for all the spectators around that see it.

It is, however, very easy to get caught up in bringing too many supplies and be obsessive about how your car looks. Remember that it’s okay to clean your classic car after you park it at the show, but most people won’t see the minuscule details you may be obsessing over. Plus you may not have a place to store all your many cleaning supplies.

I recommend bringing Windex, tire shine, paper towels, and microfiber towels. Try to keep it minimal because I promise you that these four items will make your car look like new. To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed with cleaning, take your classic car to a car wash and/or get it detailed right before the big show. One our way over to the show, you’ll probably get a few specs of dirt and dust on it which is why you brought these extra cleaning supplies.

After you’ve parked your car in it’s assigned spot at the car show, clean the windows with some Windex. Use the microfiber towel to wipe off any spots that have gotten on the body of your classic car, but do it gently so you don’t scratch up your paint. Lastly, spray some tire shine on the side of your tires and rub the solution in with some paper towels. This will give your tires the brand new look that’ll add a lot to the appearance of your displayed classic car.

Extra Towels

Some may argue this should go under the same category as cleaning supplies, but cleaning is actually not what I had in mind for the extra towels. Extra towels are always handy for a handful of things outside of just cleaning.

The biggest reason I always bring extra towels is because of surprise rain storms. Summer is usually sunny in most parts of the United States, but a lot of areas have a lot of random rain storms in the middle of the day which was very likely in most places I have lived. Towels are handy to wipe off excess water so you don’t get dirty dry spots on the body of your classic car.


There’s no question that the middle of a summer day can get really hot, especially in certain parts of the country. You may be the unlucky one that has to park your classic car right in the middle of a field with zero shade at a car show. I’ve been there several times and it’s the worst.

Summer heat usually isn’t very kind to cars, especially older cars. Classic cars have a higher tendency to have mechanical issues because their parts and systems are older and more frail. This is especially relevant to classic car engines. Classic cars are more likely to overheat if they’ve been sitting in the sun for too long. Having the extra antifreeze/coolant can help combat that if you’ve found yourself with a radiator that’s leaking fluid.

Folding Chairs

Walking around and admiring all the cars present at a car show really is a lot of fun. Interacting with other car enthusiasts and sharing a common love with other people can make for a great day. But walking around all day can get a little tiring. Bringing a folding chair is an important item to consider on your “to bring” list for your car show.

Not only is it convenient to have a folding chair, it’s also healthy to rest a little bit while you’re out and about in the hot sun. Plus you can still sit and visit with fellow car enthusiasts and have much more comfortable conversations.

Pictures/Photo Album

There’s something about older machines that draws people’s attention. Some may feel like they’ve travelled back in time as they’re standing next to a classic car. People also love seeing a pitiful looking car come back to life.

If you have a classic car that you rebuilt, make sure to bring some pictures of the process because people love that. This is especially true if you did the restoration yourself. People love seeing the transformation from rust bucket to show-worthy. Plus it can really strike up some interesting conversations between people and you can feel an extra sense of pride showing off all the hard work you did.

Canopy Tent

To be honest, I hate hauling around canopy tents while I’m at a car show. But I cannot emphasize enough how helpful they are to your car show experience.

A canopy tent can do so much service for you while at a car show. They’re incredibly useful for providing not only shade to your car, but also shelter from rain, leaves, and sap if you’re parked underneath a tree. It will also encourage other people to come and look at your car because of the shade the canopy tent provides.

Though they are a big bulky, canopy tents are pretty easy to set up and take down. They can easily fit in the trunk of a car, too, so you won’t have to worry about having enough space for it.

Awards And Trophies If Any

If you’ve won any awards or trophies from previous car shows or contests, a car show is a perfect place to bring them and show them off. Some people may shy away from this because they feel like they’re showing off too much, but honestly car show spectators don’t care. They love seeing trophies and awards for your stunning classic car.

By bringing your awards and displaying them with your car, you’re showing the audience that your classic car is something to fret about. Obviously you’ve won those awards for a reason, so let those awards catch people’s eyes and reel people in so they’ll look at your car.


This is a pretty obvious thing to have on your list to bring to a car show, but you’d be surprised at how many people that don’t actually bring it. Most car shows are held during the summer, so it’s hot. Everyone knows that. Yet they don’t bring sunscreen.

A family member of mine used to work as an Emergency Medical Technician at events similar to these and she said she was so surprised at the little amount of people who took proper care of themselves during a hot day. People don’t drink near as much as they should and they end up getting severe sunburns because they think they’re in the shade enough.

She said she was constantly handing out sunscreen to heat stroke victims and encouraging more water. Take care of yourself while you’re out at a car show. Wear sunscreen so you won’t feel sorry for yourself the following night when you can’t sleep from a sunburn.


Though we live in a time where technology is accessible almost anywhere, don’t ever assume that you can pay your registration fee with a card at a car show. It would be nice to assume that you could, but I have never been able to pay with a card at a car show.

Always bring cash with you to your car show. Contact car show associates ahead of time or look at the website or flyer to know how much you’ll be needing to pay for your registration fee.

Bring more cash that you think you need. Chances are, you’ll probably want to enter a raffle, buy a drink, or get some food while you’re at the car show. Most of these places don’t accept cards either so cash will be your best bet.

Cooler With Drinks

There’s no question that having a refreshing, cold drink handy while at a car show on a hot day can really bring some relief and make your day so much better. Having a cooler with your favorite drinks inside will not only make your day better, but it will also encourage you to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Buying drinks from vendors at car shows can be quite expensive. They mark the prices higher because people buy them due to convenience. I like to save my money and would rather buy my own drinks at half the price at the store and bring them myself.

Set Of Extra Basic Tools

Far too often I have seen someone who has parked their classic car at a car show for the day and when it comes time to pack up and leave, they can’t get their car started. Like I mentioned before, classic cars have old components and parts that are just simply not as reliable and can break down easily.

Several times I’ve been able to help my fellow car enthusiasts because I had a set of basic tools that could fix their problems. Aside from older parts breaking down easily, the nice thing about classic cars is that they’re not complicated to fix. So having an extra set of basic tools handy can go a long way.

It’s always a good idea to also have a portable jump starter for those dead batteries and a portable air compressor for those flat tires you might get. These items are pretty small and can be kept under a seat or in the glove compartment easily.

Other Helpful Tips

Aside from compiling a list of helpful items to take with you to a car show, there are some other points and tips I’d like to discuss to help make your car show experience even much better.

Always respect the car show workers and associates and follow the rules. There have been many times I have disagreed with them and wanted to voice my opinion, but I did not. I have seen what happens when people aren’t respectful to the organizers and they end up getting kicked out without a refund while also being permanently banned from the car show. And yes, they can do that and enforce it strictly. Be respectful.

It’s always a good idea to show up to the car show early if you’re planning on registering your car. By showing up early, you will get a much better parking spot that will most likely bring more traffic by your car. It can also give you a grace period for you to do the needed touch-ups on your car while it’s still a little cool.

Just because you don’t mind other people touching your car doesn’t mean other people don’t mind you touching their cars. Never touch other people’s cars as well as anything else they display, unless they have a photo album. There’s no better way to get someone angry with you than touching an expensive machine that holds great value to them.

Don’t try and educate people about their car unless they ask for it. This is the second best way to get in an argument with someone at a car show. Be respectful to them and their car, even if what they are saying is totally and completely wrong (because that actually does happen!). Let them show off their car the way they want and you can show off your car the way you want.

Related Questions

What is the difference between a car show and a cruise-in? Car shows are more formal and commonly require a fee for everyone involved. Cruise-ins are a lot less formal and mostly entail a smaller group of people gathering at a park or parking lot for a few hours with no fee involved. Click here for more info.

What kind of cars are eligible for car shows? Technically any car is eligible for a car show, but not too often do you see a modern stock vehicle displayed. No one wants to look at that. People usually bring old classic cars as well as new cars that have some sort of crazy modification to them that they know people would find interesting.

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