SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Started in 2009, South Orange’s GFest is an all-day celebration devoted to classic 1980s German cars—and to the “friendly shops, restaurants, and services” that make up the South Orange community. Despite overcast weather, local residents and out-of-town car enthusiasts alike flocked to this Saturday’s “2013 Edition” of GFest.
GFest is the brainchild of Levent Erhamza, the owner of Guten Parts and Service in South Orange. When the festival began, it was held mostly in the area near Erhamza’s shop. But for 2013, GFest expanded dramatically, featuring rows of cars in over a dozen South Orange parking lots. As Erhamza himself noted, “we wanted to do something positive by bringing people from outside the area, state, and country to South Orange.”
For Erhamza, elite German cars offer an unparalleled driving experience. “They’re easier and more efficient to work on than newer cars, but the way they drive is also different. It’s just you and the road.” This spirit of dedication is well reflected in the tag line for GFest 2013: “It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle!”
Most of this year’s GFest cars were vintage BMWs, though visitors could also find an occasional Porsche sports car or Volkswagen bus. The BMW Car Club of America—which holds regional festivals of its own—was on hand to recruit new members. Visitors to GFest were also treated to live music by the Hellatones, who played a series of one-hour sets in South Orange’s Spiotta Park.
However, expanding GFest did pose some challenges for Erhamza and his team. Though GFest honors South Orange businesses, the event takes up parking lot spaces that local merchants and their customers would normally be able to use. Erhamza had to work directly with merchants to handle such logistical hurdles.
Yet Erhamza is confident that GFest will continue to grow. This year, different lots were set aside for different kinds of cars, including race cars and convertibles. According to Erhamza, “we hope to make GFest bigger and better in the years to come.”