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Sports car collectors take over gridlock-free Times Square

A parade of high-priced muscle cars, classics, convertibles and motorcycles rolled down Broadway.

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Danny Lin poses for photos with his 2008 Audi R8 in New York’s Times Square during the coronavirus pandemic (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Danny Lin poses for photos with his 2008 Audi R8 in New York’s Times Square during the coronavirus pandemic (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Danny Lin poses for photos with his 2008 Audi R8 in New York’s Times Square during the coronavirus pandemic (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Car-loving New Yorkers are flocking to Times Square for streets left barren in a city seized by the coronavirus outbreak.

Car fans would normally not dare rev their engines in gridlocked Midtown but they are eagerly driving into the city to take photos and show off for sparse crowds walking through the commercial hub.

A parade of high-priced muscle cars, classics, convertibles and motorcycles rolled down Broadway on Saturday night.

The impromptu car show brought some buzz back to the tourist attraction that has been eerily vacant for weeks.

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Claudia Luong and Danny Lin hop into his 2008 Audi R8 for a spin around Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Claudia Luong and Danny Lin hop into his 2008 Audi R8 for a spin around Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

AP/PA Images

Claudia Luong and Danny Lin hop into his 2008 Audi R8 for a spin around Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Danny Lin cruised his white sports car down Broadway, the bright lights of Times Square gleaming off his sharply detailed Audi R8.

He looped through the tourist hotspot again and again, navigating around Corvettes, Mercedes, Mustangs and BMWs – a parade of high-priced vehicles gathered for a rare photo-op.

“I never bring my car here,” said the 24-year-old, from Queens.

“Only for today, to get some cool shots.”

From a star turn in Taxi Driver to the Naked Cowboy to the million people who crowd its streets on New Year’s Eve, the “Crossroads of the World” has for generations been a New York backdrop in films, culture and the arts.

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A sports car and motorcyclists are part of the scene in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

A sports car and motorcyclists are part of the scene in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

AP/PA Images

A sports car and motorcyclists are part of the scene in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Now Times Square has taken a turn towards Tokyo Drift, just without the Fast And The Furious, as car-loving New Yorkers flock to the deserted streets of the theatre district.

With the weather turning towards summer and restlessness settling in after six weeks of mandated social distancing, hundreds of automobile aficionados rolled down Broadway on Saturday night.

“This is the only time we could come down here and take photos,” Mr Lin said.

At least 100 pedestrians were wandering the area when the cars began roaring down Times Square’s main drag, along with dozens of motorcycles in one crew that created a deafening buzz.

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Dozens of motorcyclists stop for photos in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Dozens of motorcyclists stop for photos in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

AP/PA Images

Dozens of motorcyclists stop for photos in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Police – some in cars, some on horseback – were mostly patient with the procession and only intervened if cars remained parked for too long.

Some families with young children also drove through in minivans and SUVs, taking in Times Square as if touring neighbourhood Christmas lights.

Onlookers, mostly keeping 6ft apart and wearing face masks, cheered and took video from the pavements as souped-up cars and bikes went by.

The area maintained some of its touristy quirks.

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Tina Singh relaxes in a friend’s 1967 Lincoln Continental in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Tina Singh relaxes in a friend’s 1967 Lincoln Continental in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

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Tina Singh relaxes in a friend’s 1967 Lincoln Continental in New York’s Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

A violinist with a glowing wand and blue hair played for tips, and a salsa-dancing couple put a camera phone on a tripod to record their performance.

One woman wearing a leather leotard biked down Broadway a few times, cycling next to a giant van with a cameraman hanging out of the passenger window to record as she sang and danced.

By 11pm, sports cars were backed up for streets along Broadway, and police closed the road from 47th Street down through to Times Square, effectively ending the party.

Car collectors have been driving into the area for weeks in smaller packs.

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Steve Cruz poses with his Chevy Colorado in Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Steve Cruz poses with his Chevy Colorado in Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

AP/PA Images

Steve Cruz poses with his Chevy Colorado in Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Mike Hodurski and Steve Cruz brought their Chevrolet pickup trucks on Wednesday night and took photos in front of a light-up American flag at the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street.

It was already Mr Hodurski’s second trip to Midtown amid the outbreak.

This time, the MTA bus driver brought a blue 1977 Chevy C10 pickup that he had purchased earlier that day.

“It’s a lot of fun. Might as well take advantage of it now, while nobody’s over here,” Mr Hodurski said.

“The streets are dead. You’d never get to see the streets like this. So we said, ‘You know what, screw it’, and we all got together.”

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Mike Hodurski with his 1977 Chevy pickup (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Mike Hodurski with his 1977 Chevy pickup (Mark Lennihan/AP)

AP/PA Images

Mike Hodurski with his 1977 Chevy pickup (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Mr Hodurski is from Queens and Mr Cruz from Brooklyn, and both said they usually avoid Times Square as much as possible – too many tourists and too much traffic.

There was hardly anyone in the area when they cruised through on Wednesday.

They spent about five minutes in front of the flag before a police officer asked them to keep moving.

Andre Godfrey has driven his 2018 Ford Mustang – with glowing red shark teeth embedded in the grill – into Times Square twice.

He and a friend came at around 3am last Thursday, when the area was completely empty, and pulled his car up on to a pavement for a glamour shot.

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Andre Godfrey with his 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost – with glowing red shark teeth embedded in the grill – in Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Andre Godfrey with his 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost – with glowing red shark teeth embedded in the grill – in Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

AP/PA Images

Andre Godfrey with his 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost – with glowing red shark teeth embedded in the grill – in Times Square (Mark Lennihan/AP)

“Nobody bothered us,” Mr Godfrey said.

“There was one police officer down the street, like a crossing agent, and they didn’t really seem bothered by us on the sidewalk.”

He came back on Saturday after hearing from a friend that a crew of more than 100 BMWs was heading towards the area.

That caravan never got into Times Square – it arrived in Midtown shortly after police blocked off Broadway.

“This is crazy,” Mr Godfrey said.

PA