2019 NEMPA Ragtop Ramble Showcases Top Performance Cars in Boston-to-Maine Rally

The actual 10 Millionth Mustang was one of many special cars in attendance. (Lisa Brock/NEMPA)

Torrential rain and thick humidity couldn’t throw off NEMPA’s annual Ragtop Ramble. Thunderstorms kept the Lexington at port for an hour before the skies cleared into a stunning sunset of the Boston harbor. Downpours the following morning drenched the lawn at Larz Anderson and filled the driveway with ankle-deep pools, causing a group huddle around the doughnuts and coffee inside the carriage house. Upon exiting the city, the rains again ceded, and by Kennebunkport, the oceanside view was blue and clear as ever. It turned out to be the usual Ramble experience.

The Ramble begins inside the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline. (Lisa Brock/NEMPA)

The 50 journalists and automaker executives in attendance—new and veteran alike—enjoyed (mostly) gorgeous weather, hot cars, fine food, and good company. Besides being the country’s first regional press association event to exclusively feature convertibles and performance cars, the Ragtop Ramble is unique in that it prioritizes our guests in public relations. They get to drive competitor cars—a rare opportunity even at their corporate offices—and exotic cars that would typically cost thousands to rent for a day.

Nissan east coast PR manager Steve Oldham in the Dodge Durango SRT. (Clifford Atiyeh/NEMPA)

We provide hotel and airport shuttles, a catered harbor cruise with open bar, discounted hotel blocks, tours of an incredible automotive museum, and a lobster buffet at a historic Maine resort serving the best New England cuisine. It is, quite simply, the press trip that most of the press in other regions wish they could attend.

John Pardoe and Thom Blackett contemplate their next ride at the vehicle swap point in Portsmouth. (Clifford Atiyeh/NEMPA)

There is no entry fee, and for years, NEMPA supported the event under its own cost. This year, we were gratified for the bevy of sponsors who stepped up to make this two-day event possible. We thank Acura, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Genesis, Haartz, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Toyota for their support.

Mazda east coast PR manager Tamara Mlynarczyk, CarGurus intern producer Amy Solov, and CarGurus editor Megan Hennessey enjoy the Boston cruise. (Lisa Brock/NEMPA)

We also appreciate the kind gestures of several attendees. Genesis account manager Jeff Jablansky gave away a dozen blueberry pies—the small, genuine Maine blueberries—after lunch. FCA east coast manager Lisa Barrow, as she has for several years, supplied several support vehicles for the rally north, including a NEMPA Snack Wagon filled with refreshments waiting for members pulling into the Portsmouth rest stop.

Genesis account manager Jeff Jablansky presents a winning pie to John Zangari.

This year, more than two dozen cars entered the 90-mile tour from the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline to the Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport. Since convertibles aren’t always in local fleets, NEMPA welcomes any high-performance vehicle—and that includes trucks. We had lots of them: Two Ford Raptor pickups, a Jeep Gladiator, a Dodge Durango SRT with Viper racing stripes, the fiery Maserati Levante, the intimidating Mercedes-Benz G550, and a 557-horsepower Range Rover that resembled a fire engine.

Haartz marketing director Matt Williams rides off in a Raptor. (Clifford Atiyeh/NEMPA)

Sports cars dominated the day, too, with Ford bringing the actual 10 millionth Mustang ever made. Joining this pretty V-8 droptop were two BMW 8-series, a Corvette, Challenger Hellcat Redeye, Miata, 124 Spider, 370Z 50th Anniversary, RC F, and the brand-new Supra.

CarGurus producer Matt Smith in the new Toyota Supra.

Sport sedans like the Genesis G70, Volvo S60, and Volkswagen GLI were in the mix. So were pint-size favorites like the 500C Abarth. Missing this year—and hopefully not in the next—were models from Audi, Cadillac, Honda, Infiniti, Mini, and Subaru.

Mark your 2020 calendars. The Ragtop Ramble will return on July 15 and 16, whether rain, shine, or both.

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