Andrew Dys

Bring the jalopy: Ugly car show Saturday for Rock Hill charity

For a guy who used to race dirt track cars that end up dented and muddy and bent, Ronnie Aiton who drives a bus around Rock Hill in his “Kids for Jesus” ministry needed something different as a fundraiser to keep the buses running and delivering kids to events at schools and churches.

Aiton’s ministry works in the most rutted backroads and toughest streets where the sight of a jalopy on blocks is far more common than a showroom German sports car driven.

Aiton just a few weeks ago had to stop his bus one evening to wait for the gunshots to cease on the road in front of him. He’s never had a new bus and probably never will. He’s fixed up old buses that were bought on the cheap and used them to take poor kids to church, after-school events, daycares, functions that would not be accessible for these children without the big old yellow former school bus with the barely 5-foot-tall Aiton peering over the steering wheel.

The solution?

“Ugly car show,” said Aiton. “Make that ugly car and truck show. I sure have driven enough of ’em in my life. Regular people, they don’t always get to pick the beauties. They drive what they can afford.”

Registration is just $10 and the proceeds will go to maintenance costs and equipment upgrades for the Kids for Jesus buses, as well as the Roddey Baptist Church fund that donates to the Rock Hill school district’s “Back the Pack” program for poor students to take home food over weekends.

Kids for Jesus transports around 900 children a month. Sylvia Kennedy of Rock Hill Cruisers car club said that Aiton’s ministry has helped thousands of kids over the last 12 years.

But this show is not for classics. It is for junkers and jalopies. The show will go from 3-8 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Red’s Grill on East Main Street in Rock Hill after the restaurant finishes the lunch rush.

To advertise the ugly car show, Aiton made an ugly sign. He spray-painted a sheet and and hung it on an ugly old bus across the street from Red’s Grill.

There will be old trucks held together by wire and twine and covered with decades of paint spills while used for work. Beater cars that were ugly at birth when Reagan was president. And some vehicles that have no classification because the parts on them are mismatched and salvaged.

“The only rule is there ain’t no rules,” Aiton said. “We will take any vehicle in our ugly show.”

Aiton will even take classic cars if people want to show off nicer cars that are well-kept.

“We have one 1970 Barracuda that is supposed to be here and that’s a real classic muscle car,” Aiton said. “But we take cars that are all fat and skin and bones, too. Car gets here, it’s entered. I love a pretty car, but this might be the only show in town where the general rule is the uglier, the better.”