-NEW HAVEN — Already looking picturesque in a fashionably nostalgic sundress, Yale University law student Helen Eenmaa solidified the perfect pose for a 1950s poster when she hopped into a 1957 Chevy Bel Air 210 parked along Chapel Street before being featured in a scene of the new "Indiana Jones
"Except in (auto show) exhibitions, we haven’t seen such cars," said the 26-year-old Estonia native, as she hopped into the front seat of the turquoise vintage car, draped an arm out the open window and flashed a coquettish smile.
As if on queue, the digital camera captures the moment by the good graces of her equally intrigued friend and fellow law student, Ruslan Dimitriev, 29, of Moscow, Russia.
The Yale duo weren’t alone in their fascination with the dozens of vintage cars lining the streets around the Green as the crew of the highly anticipated Harrison Ford movie took up its third day of filming in New Haven.
Primarily owned by Connecticut residents who will drive them in the movie, set in the 1950s, the vintage cars attracted the general spectators and car buffs alike as though they were on display like an antique car night at a local parking lot or fast-food joint.
"The people are drawn to them like magnets," acknowledged Jim Inglese of North Branford, owner of a black 1940 Ford Standard, as he relaxed between takes with a group of the other car owners.
Other vehicles parked along the Green included a Packard Panama Super Clipper, Chrysler De Soto, Plymouth Savoy and several Chevrolet Bel Airs.
His head briefly disappearing underneath the open hood of the turquoise Bel Air, Bethany resident Harley Hiscock instantly struck up a conversation of memories with other spectators and the car’s owner, Robert A. Gasparri, of Waterbury.
"My first car I bought in 1936. If I had it today, it would be worth a fortune," said Hiscock, 91, noting that he spent $700 on a Chevrolet car, but not the "great" V-6 Bel Air that Gasparri decided to customize with a 400 short block.
Even passers-by in their modern cars slowed down long enough to snap shots of the old models and those nearby drivers dressed in era clothing.
"Hey, that’s one of my students," said Wilbur Cross High School Principal Robert Canelli as a camera turned his way. Canelli will be one of the drivers, along with his uncle Anthony Mongillo, who will drive his own 1958 Ford Fairlane.
Some drivers’ cars also bring rich family history with them, such as the 1952 Crosley Sedan owned by Donna DeLorenzo of North Haven, whose daughter, Amy DeLorenzo, 19, convinced her to pitch to the crew for use.
Although the younger DeLorenzo is still lamenting the fact she can’t drive the car due to her lack of a driver’s license, it will be driven by her brother, Joseph DeLorenzo Jr., 22, who hid a picture and written request in the car when their now deceased father sold it 11 years ago.
Hoping to get the car back, he asked the English owner to contact the family should it ever be sold again and brought back overseas
"I got a call one morning from England saying it was coming back to Connecticut," said Donna DeLorenzo, adding that her husband bought it back in October 2003.
Up the street, vintage car and sign enthusiast Jim Fellows, 52, of Middletown, ventured to the Elm City for a day sight seeing trip with his girlfriend, Lindsay Ruppel, 44, of Roxbury, both walking away impressed by the convincing nostalgia of the altered shop fronts and antique wheels.
"This one looks like they made it, but the (S. Malatesta & Sons moving truck) looks like it was put in a garage for 50 years," said Fellow, comparing it to a freshly painted truck.
According to Michael Pacella of Derby, whose 1956 Chevy Bel Air will be filmed, the weathered look on the cars’ exteriors comes from a industry concoction of water and talcum powder to achieve the desired affect of the fall season the movie will portray.
The vintage look wasn’t lost on the new era of potential Indiana Jones fans, like Zachary Wirth, 4, of Shelton, who looked in confusion from his stroller at an old Harley Davidson as his father attempted to explain that the metal attachments meant the bike would be attached to a car for stunts.
"On what car?" Zachary asked, peeking out of a pair of binoculars for the elusive vehicle.