The ‘Dream Machines’ Car Club in Illinois

I saw this article and I think it deserves a ‘guest post’ on my blog. It’s just about a local cruise in Illinois, but the car club calls itself the ‘Dream Machines’ car club, which sounds great to me. I don’t know why, but they didn’t include pictures. I always include pictures. Sorry, but it’s a good look at the latest craze in America; classic cars and hot rods. That’s why I hope they enjoy my novel, Dream Machines. Enjoy.

This cool cruise info is from: http://www.mywebtimes.com/news/editorial/our-view-in-streator-cruise-night-is-king/article_984c9141-062c-50c4-8830-5606c4267d12.html

 

It’s Labor Day weekend in the Illinois Valley, and that means it’s time for one thing — the Dream Machines Car Club Streator Car Show and Cruise Night.

Sure, there are other events going on — notably in Toluca, Paw Paw, Mendota and Pontiac, some of those celebrations with more than six decades of history — but today’s Cruise Night celebration is the undisputed king.

If there was any doubt about which event wears the crown, last year put it to rest. After a threat of rain abated, Dream Machines Vice President Mike Starjack said more than 500 vehicles took part. He also told The Times between 15,000 and 20,000 people came out to see the vintage cars. Those numbers are on pace with 2010, the last year where Cruise Night coincided with great weather, which drew 545 cars and at least 20,000 spectators.

That’s a two with four zeroes — a larger number than the population of any single town in La Salle County.

Some taverns and restaurants point to Cruise Night as their biggest of the year in terms of traffic and revenue. Cars come in from several states. Perhaps not every hotel room in town is booked, but clearly Cruise NIght has a social and economic impact. It’s no wonder the organizers of the Streator Tenderloin Festival chose Labor Day weekend — they knew when it made the most sense to tap in to a huge number of visitors.

Cruise nights are common throughout the region, so what’s the big deal in Streator? Anyone can have a car show. In Streator, the real attraction is the cruising: getting those vintage vehicles out on the road, slowly going up and down the main streets, listening to classic music and restoring — if only for one night — some magic memories of the past.

In many ways, Streator is a perfect backdrop. Many families have called the town home for generations. The people are proud of the town’s work ethic, and nothing says “elbow grease” like getting under the hood of your classic auto and turning a wrench yourself. Anyone with money can buy an old car. But only someone with passion, skill and dedication can restore it to glory.

The physical scenery itself helps, as Streator itself has a classic look. Not much of town is ultra-modern, and that’s the way many folks like it. Streator looks and feels like home, and these classic cars and their owners fit right in. Cruise Night hearkens back to the days when the Roamer — America’s answer to the Rolls Royce — was built in Streator.

It seems almost preposterous now to think America’s leading luxury car could be built in a small town in the middle of Illinois. But that’s the way things worked in the early 1900s, and Cruise Night and the Dream Machines Car Club help us all tap into that nostalgia.

The cruise route is from Main Street to Park Street to Kent Street to Vermillion Street to Hickory Street to Shabbona Street and back to Main. Members of the Dream Machines Club are selling tickets all day for the choice of a restored 1975 Plymouth Duster or $5,000 in cash.

The people who continue make Labor Day weekend special in Streator every year deserve praise for their efforts. It’s a labor of love for sure, and the beneficiaries are numerous. Hats off to everyone involved. The months of planning and preparation are complete. Tonight, the party begins. Live it up, step back in time and enjoy one of the greatest weekends of the year.

 

Advertisements

Jimmy Shine and the Grand Rapids, MI, Metro Cruise 2014

I was so tired when I got back home from the Woodward Dream Cruise; I seriously over-slept to noon the next day. The Dream Cruise was three days of intense cruising and checking out over 40,000 classic cars, hot rods and big exhibits by Ford, Chrysler and GM. So when I heard the news that Jimmy Shine would be at the Grand Rapids, Michigan, Metro Cruise the coming weekend, it gave me enough energy to make the 5 hour drive west on the Ohio Turnpike to Indiana, then turned north to GR on a Friday afternoon.

IMG_2565

In case you never heard of Jimmy Shine, he started out with the now famous, ‘SoCal Speed Shops,’ which are garages where they restore or modify classic cars and make a lot of cars go…faster. Jimmy is the kind of guy that can take a beat up old 1950s (or any year) car and with his own two hands, turn it into a stunning show car that has power and looks to win trophies and races. That is talent.

 IMG_2576

Jimmy is also the host and/or guest on many classic car shows that offer classic cars and restoration projects as subject matter. Those shows frequently are shown on the Velocity Network on cable. His show, ‘Car Warriors,’ pit two teams of restoration mechanics and fabricators to restore and modify in a small amount of time, two similar old cars. The teams can do whatever they want to the cars and at the end, the cars will be judged and the winner gets to take the car home.

 IMG_2577

Jimmy is also in my novel, Dream Machines. When the two old farts realize that they can’t restore and race their cars by their self-imposed deadline, Jimmy steps in. He helps by adding two teams to work with them to get their cars ready to settle the big 50-year grudge drag race on Woodward by Friday night. The only condition is that the restoring and race will now be part of Jimmy’s show, ‘Car Warriors.’

Now, this is the kind of car I see myself in... someday.

Now, this is the kind of car I see myself in… someday.

I got to GR, dropped off my luggage at the hotel and headed down 28th street, where the Metro Cruise was. The Cruise was supposed to be on the west side of Highway 131, but miles before that, there were classic cars in parking lots with lots of people on lawn chairs checking out what’s interesting in traffic. I hope they all saw my Cruisemobile mobile billboard and ordered the book.

 IMG_0220

After Hwy 131, there were significantly more classic cars and hot rods as well as bigger crowds. At a large shopping center, Roger’s Plaza, there was an enormous crowd, with food vendors, lots of lights and cars. This was the main staging area for the Cruise, http://www.28thstreetmetrocruise.com/, so I figured I would keep going until I found the end of the cruise area then turn around. It kept going for about a mile and a half before I turned back. Along the road, the crowds kept growing, along with a lot of side-of-the-road food vendors.

 IMG_2560

I pulled into Roger’s Plaza and did my best to get a parking space, like all those other people roaming in their car hoping to get lucky, which I finally did. The whole scene reminded me of a carnival, only instead of amusement rides, they had cars, lots of very cool, groovy and all the other ‘60s adjectives, cars.

 IMG_0224

I looked for Jimmy and found him immediately, signing autographs. I showed him my book and he said, ‘I have that book on my desk, but I haven’t read it yet.’ I gave him another copy (yeah, he wanted me to autograph it and he gave me his autograph) and he introduced me to his beautiful wife, Nikki, who took a picture of us. He was so nice, it was like talking to an old friend and he said that he would read the book. I told him I wanted to make the book into a movie and Nikki’s eyes lit up, like they had been talking about such a thing. Maybe he’s looking for the right book. I tried hard not to be so impressed with him, but I don’t think it worked because I probably sounded like the ‘Wayne’s World’ groupie of a rock star going, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.”

Jimmy Shine and I (I'm the old guy);-)

Jimmy Shine and I (I’m the old guy);-)

The show was going to close at 9pm, or so they said, and if it was anything like the Woodward Dream Cruise, that could mean facing major traffic jams. So I headed out, knowing I would be there first thing in the morning. As I headed back to the hotel, I saw a place I had gone to many years before, the Beltline Bar; home of the famous Wet Burrito. Yeah, I stopped and had a famous ‘Burrito and Beer,’ and it was just as good as I remembered.

 IMG_2565

I arrived Saturday morning at 9 am, when the program said it was going to start, and it sure enough; it had already started without me. Being there at what I thought was an early hour, I thought I’d be able to get a good highly visible parking place, but the place was already packed with people and cars. I saw all the cars and after-market companies then ran into Scooter, with the ‘Cruiz’news’ magazine from the Detroit area. I asked if Dana was there, but Scooter said Dana had gotten totally burned out at the Dream Cruise and was on a beach far away from any classic cars;-)

 IMG_2558

It was nice to see a city like Grand Rapids with such a large cruise. It was a good size cruise and I could tell the crowds loved it. I left at noon because I had to get going back to Cleveland, where I had things to do later. I decided to go through Ann Arbor and head south from there so I could stop for a lunch break at one of my favorite stores; Cabela’s. This Cabela’s is huge inside with an incredible selection of outdoor gear and clothing. I just happened to need some mesquite wood nuggets for my smoker.

 IMG_0235

I decided not to eat in their ‘wild-game’ restaurant because I saw a sign at a nearby small pub, The Great Lakes Pub & Grill, that advertised fresh Bluegill fish. I love Bluegill and they didn’t disappoint. The filets are only big enough for one bite, but oh, they are the tastiest fish, even better than Perch. I love Florida seafood, but this is great lakes fresh water seafood, and it is delicious.

Blue Gill, beans and cole slaw. I only ate the Blue Gill.

Blue Gill, beans and cole slaw. I only ate the Blue Gill.

I finally arrived back home, just in time to unload luggage, pick up my neighbor Roger, and head to downtown Cleveland to arrive just in time for the opening ceremony for the Cleveland Browns home exhibition pre-season game and Johnny Football himself; Johnny Manziel. Throughout the frustrating game for the Browns, which almost distracted me, I still kept thinking about Jimmy Shine, and all those gorgeous Dream Machines in Grand Rapids. Way to go GR!

IMG_0250

IMG_2570IMG_2571

IMG_0205

IMG_0217

IMG_0214

IMG_0216

IMG_0210

IMG_2564

IMG_0227

IMG_2561

IMG_0213IMG_0212

Woodward Dream Cruise 2014

IMG_2549

It’s the biggest annual event in Michigan. It’s the fourth largest one-day event in America. It’s the biggest car festival/cruise in the world. It’s the Woodward Dream Cruise with over 1.3 million spectators and over 40,000 classic cars, antique cars and hot rods. This year was the 20th anniversary of the event and not many people outside of Michigan know about it (other than classic car buffs, hot rod enthusiasts, drag racers, auto restorers and car people).

IMG_0194

I had to be in Detroit the Friday before and it was crowded with cars and spectators already – a week in advance! I returned on Wednesday, picked up my friend Steve from California at the airport and headed to the hotel taking a longer route on Woodward. Woodward was packed. Four lanes going north and four lanes going south and it was bumper-to-bumper classic car traffic at around 4 MPH. Engines rumbled, an occasional tire squealed loudly and sometimes it was hard to hear with all that Detroit muscle revving up.

IMG_2328

With my new automobile advertising wrap about my novel, Dream Machines, I was getting plenty of attention. My goal with this trip is to get enough publicity to sell over 2000 books through Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com so I can attract a literary agent, who will sell my book to a big publisher. If that happens, then movie producers will be interested and that is my true main goal: to make my novel, Dream Machines, into a movie. If made (hoping some big rich Detroit leaders read this) a side benefit would be improving the negative perceptions and opinions about Detroit into positive ones. At least, that’s my plan. Know of any people like that with $5 million they would like to invest in a movie? I didn’t think so.

IMG_0111

Wednesday night was the only chance we would have of stopping at Duggan’s Pub on Woodward for a Big Chief burger, the burger they once served at the Totem Pole. Speaking of the Totem Pole, I stopped by the lot on Woodward where the Totem Pole was. It had turned into a Burger King for years and then they closed. They leveled the building and there is nothing but a vacant, empty lot left of what was the greatest drive-in restaurant in the world (my own opinion).

IMG_0169

Thursday had Steve and I cruising Woodward as much as possible (to show off my moving billboard). I had a very bad problem though. On Tuesday, my good friend and best man at my wedding, Dan Hurley died of a heart attack. Dan went to many Dream Cruises with me and his absence was a sore spot. That night we went out to dinner with his son, Neil and his wife Monica. We went to Birmingham, where the sidewalks were filled with people trying to get seats at the many fine restaurants in the area. The streets were also starting to be filled up with classic cars.

IMG_0187

Friday put me in a better mood. We cruised a very busy Woodward, but my friend Steve wanted to hear about actor/comedian, Robin William’s home area, because it was in the news so much about his death a few days earlier. Better than explaining, I showed him. We toured the neighborhoods and small lakes of Bloomfield Hills and the exclusive Cranbrook Institute of something or other. Robin lived in an extremely affluent part of Detroit’s suburbs along with his neighbors Mitt Romney and Lee Iacocca. In the ‘50s and ‘60s the area attracted big executives from Ford, GM and Chrysler. They let their teens play with the new demo cars they drove home from the factory. Many of those kids and their parents, drag raced on Woodward in their new GTO’s, Mustangs, Dodge Hemi’s, Corvettes and all the other muscle cars. Robin and Mitt had to have cruised all the drive-ins too. That’s a cool thought. I believe there are still a lot of auto execs living there.

IMG_2554

Friday night was an absolute zoo. Cars were crammed onto Woodward going about 2 MPH bumper-to-bumper for miles. It took hours to go a mile. The tree lawns, parking places and just about everywhere the crowd sat on lawn chairs or walked between the mini cruise-ins that were jammed with cool cars. TV crews were flitting around getting interviews and radio station guys were out in the street talking to people in their cars asking for a rev up (for sound).

Motorcycle police at WDC 2014

The police were out in a larger force than I’ve ever seen. At the shopping center at 13 mile and Woodward, where Chrysler has set up a ‘Mopar’ exhibit, there was a line of police motorcycles like I have never seen, other than in a movie like, ‘Blues Brothers.’ There had to be at least 30-40 motorcycles from police stations all over the Detroit area. There were cop cars everywhere as well as plenty of cops on bicycles and horses. At the Mopar exhibit, there was a lot of local hype and publicity about Dodge’s new 700+ HP Charger, ‘Hellcat,’ but it wasn’t at the exhibit…yet. They said it would be there on Saturday, but unfortunately, we had a different schedule for cruise day.

Dodge's 'Silver Bullet' ripped up Woodward in the '60s with over 600 HP.

Plymouth’s ’67 Belvedere GTX   ‘Silver Bullet’ ripped up Woodward in the ’60s with over 600 HP.

Down the street from the Mopar exhibit, and across the street from Duggan’s Pub, was GMs Corvette exhibit and next to that was a park area that was transformed into a classic car carnival. It was packed with food concessions/trucks, classic cars, hot rods, t-shirt tents, the truck from my friend Dana’s magazine ‘www.cruiz’news.com,’ several bleacher seats faced Woodward and the enormous crowd either sat and watched, or milled around enjoying the intoxicating atmosphere of motor city metal.

IMG_2550

It was quite an experience, but the show ended at 9:40pm when the huge presence of police blocked off Woodward and everybody had to go home. I mean, tried to go home. The small neighborhood road that the police forced people to take became jammed and it took us forever to make our way back to the hotel.

Black '57 Chevy MSU

The Saturday morning of the Dream Cruise had a chill in the air. The temps had dipped into the 40s the night before, but there was a crowd on Woodward at 8am. We headed to Ferndale. At the corner of 9 Mile Road and Woodward, 9 Mile was blocked in either direction for blocks and blocks for Ford’s ‘Mustang Alley.’ Ford and many after-market suppliers like Saleen, Rousch, Shelby and many others showed their newest Mustang designs. A large parking lot was filled with only Mustang Cobras. Then there were blocks and blocks of Mustangs of all years and models owned by private owners. In all, we figured there had to be at least 1,000 mustangs. It was unbelievable and overwhelming for this ardent Mustang fan. My Mustang was stolen, but that’s in a previous blog.

IMG_2548IMG_2547

IMG_2546

Ford's Mustang Alley  9 Mile at Woodward

Ford’s Mustang Alley
9 Mile at Woodward

We then headed to Birmingham to see GM’s offering to the Cruise. It took us a long time to go 6 miles, but lots of people saw my mobile billboard along the way. Tee shirts under a tent dotted the sides of Woodward for miles as well as a bunch of ‘radio towers’ so people would know a radio station was broadcasting from there. Crowds surrounded various cool cars parked everywhere and anyway they could. I could tell by the crowded boulevard that this was the biggest Dream Cruise ever. Along the way, there was a row of around ten DeLoreans like the one in the movie, ‘Back to the Future,’ all with their doors open and pointing skyward. What a blast!

Radio tower WDC 2014

In downtown Birmingham, Old Woodward Avenue was closed off and wow, they had quite a show of classic cars. Since this was Birmingham, with it’s affluence, there were a lot of classic foreign cars that cruised Woodward in the ‘60s, like MGs, Triumphs, Austin Healeys, Jaguars, Rolls Royces and even an old Bentley. There was a long row of Cobras, Thunderbirds and Corvettes. On the other side of the sidewalk, in parking lots full of parked cars, there were a number of exhibits for after-market companies that do a lot of business with GM.

Ken Lingenfelter and I at the Dream Cruise

Ken Lingenfelter and I at the Dream Cruise, I’m in the Hawaiian shirt.

An old friend of mine, Ken Lingenfelter, owns one of those companies, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering. They make GM cars like Corvettes and Camaros go faster and make race cars go faster too. They build race car engines and components like superchargers. Ken showed me a new product of his; trucks he named, ‘Reapers.’ He gives trucks a go-over, performance and custom looks wise, and calls them ‘Reapers.’ They are already in some GM showrooms in Texas. Ken also showed me his personal ‘everyday car,’ a gorgeous ’67 Corvette with over 600 HP. I want to go the grocery store with him.

Ken Lingenfelter's daily ride

At the end of the street where it meets Woodward, forms a triangle where Chevrolet, this years Dream Cruise sponsor, has a large exhibit of their coolest new cars and classic Chevys. There was also a TV station, WXYZ (ABC), which is a sponsor, doing live broadcasts as well as the oldies radio station, WOMC, with their funny radio hosts, Bobby and Stacy doing a live show. Add in all kinds of food trucks, huge crowds, live music stages and you’ve got a pretty wild scene with hundreds of thousands of classic car buffs oo-ing and ah-ing  every cool car that drives by.

IMG_0197

When we headed back out onto Woodward we heard my radio interview. The day before, I had done a radio interview with WWJ 950 am all news, and we heard it run several times in the day and once at night. We didn’t really get all that far on Woodward, because again it was wall-to-wall classic car traffic going at a snail’s pace. At 9 pm, we saw the lights on all the police cars go on like it did Friday night just before they closed Woodward down. I hurried (you really couldn’t hurry) as fast as I could to get off Woodward. I turned the corner at 13 Mile Road and just then the cops shut down Woodward. I thought, ‘9 pm?’ I guess they wanted to end the happiness earlier that usual. Back at the hotel, I heard people moaning about the long ride back in the traffic. I felt lucky, where can I buy a lottery ticket?

IMG_2316

The Big Chief Burger

The Big Chief Burger

On Sunday, we finally got our chance to eat a Big Chief at Duggan’s Pub. We sat at the bar and I saw a very hard working guy, Larry Payne, owner of Duggan’s. Larry said he heard my interview that morning on WWJ, so maybe I sounded better than I thought. I said goodbye to Steve when I dropped him off at the airport. This was his second Dream Cruise year and he said it was, ‘great.’ I headed back to Cleveland, with a big smile, great memories and it helped me get over the tragedy of my friend, who loved the Dream Cruise, passing on. I’m sure that now he’s in a real, ‘Dream Machine.’

More pictures –

'59 Edsel Wagon

White '56 T-Bird

A really big unknown car with Canada plates

IMG_2551

IMG_0190

IMG_2553

IMG_0170

‘American Graffiti’ times a thousand

In the 1950s and ‘60s in Detroit, Michigan, Woodward Avenue was considered ‘the biggest illegal drag strip in the world.’ In the northern suburbs, above Nine Mile Road, on Friday and Saturday night, Woodward was like ‘American Graffiti’ times a thousand.

Totem Pole Poster

Four lanes north and four lanes south with a large grassy median, Woodward is like a grand boulevard. The large median has created what many call, the ‘Michigan left turn.’ The intersection of Woodward at the Mile Roads and the half-mile roads are so large with big volumes of traffic, if you want to turn left on Woodward, you have to turn right and quickly there is a U-turn turnaround to get on Woodward going in the opposite direction.

Ted's Drive-in out front

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, this 15 mile stretch of Woodward had dozens of drive-in restaurants and regular restaurants that served unique food. But on Friday and Saturday night, that’s when the magic began. This was Detroit, and Motor City people love their cars. All the big three auto manufacturers executives lived in the suburbs of Ferndale, Royal Oak, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Berkley, Huntington Woods and several other quaint villages. They all had the hottest and newest cars as exec demos and they, their sons and daughters, and just about everybody drag raced on Woodward. Everybody.

Maverick's on Woodward

The cops couldn’t keep up with all the drag races. Tens of thousands of people cruised Woodward and cruised all the drive-ins as well. There were two large drive-ins at either end of this 15 mile stretch, The Totem Pole and Ted’s Drive-in. In between were many drive-ins, some featuring roller-skating waitresses and they all had their special burger with their own special sauce.

IMG_1180

The most famous burger was the Totem Pole’s Big Chief. The sauce is incredible and like biting into history. The Big Chief can still be had now at Duggan’s Pub on Woodward, between 13 Mile Road and Normandy (13 ½ Mile Road). Duggan’s also has Ted’s 5 x 5 cheeseburger and a number of other ‘signature dishes’ from the old drive-ins, like the ‘Suzie Q fried fish.’ Larry Payne Sr. had the forethought to buy the recipes and serve them at Duggan’s.

teds-4

The favorite sport that guys loved was, ‘chasing skirt,’ and a nice car would act like a ‘babe magnet.’ Nice cars included old cars that were fixed up to be hot rods and the people who worked on these cars were called, ‘gear-heads.’ There were plenty of new hot rods too. Not just Corvettes, but Mustangs, GTOs, and so many that I’d have to have a whole blog to identify all of them, and still wouldn’t get all of them. However, there was one hot car that made them all look slow; The Silver Bullet. 1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX, affectionately known on Woodward as, The Silver Bullet.

Silver Bullet of Woodward

The Silver Bullet was the baddest street machine on Woodward and won more than it’s fair share of glory between the lights. More can be found out about the Silver Bullet in this excellent article on Carcraft.com at: http://www.carcraft.com/featuredvehicles/906_1967_plymouth_belvedere_gtx/

Whether men and women want to admit it or not, they judge one another based upon the class and power of the car they drive. That’s been a part of America’s love affair with the auto since Henry Ford started mass-producing them at a cost that most people could afford. Costs have sky rocketed for cars, but people still love them, and they love Detroit muscle cars especially.

Duggan's Pub on Woodward

The annual Woodward Dream Cruise in August is getting closer. Soon over 1.3 million spectators will descend on Woodward and it will be time to cruise or just watch all the ‘Dream Machines’ cruise by. I can hardly wait.

Mid-west classic car season begins

IMG_2290

This year has been harsh on mid-westerners. 6 months of winter followed by a week of spring. It is finally June, the month where you usually expect mid-80s weather with the back yard grill working overtime. We all hope that is true.

IMG_2156

But what is true, is that there are a number of mid-western cruise-ins scheduled in June and the weather can just be damned if it’s bad. This weekend was calm with a smattering of cruise-ins at smaller venues, like the big sports bars like, Quaker Steak & Lube. Usually their cruise-ins are just bikers, but many times they have classic cars and hot rods as well. You just have to look in a directory. What directory?

IMG_2266

There are many mid-western sources of cruise-ins and events with classic cars and hot rods. One is cruisin’ times magazine out of Cleveland, Ohio: http://www.cruisintimesmagazine.com. Another is Cruisenews magazine out of Detroit at: http://www.cruisnews.com.

There are a number on online lists for mid-west cruise-ins as well:

In Chicago you could go here: http://www.carcruiselist.com/.

In Columbus, Ohio go here: https://www.facebook.com/columbuscruisein.

Cincinnati car fans can go here: http://www.countrycruiser.com/cincy.htm

In Louisville, southern Indiana, go here: http://www.cruisenightcars.com/

In Pittsburgh, go here: http://www.carcruises.com/cruise_list.asp?month_select=5&state=Pennsylvania.

Indianapolis: http://www.oldcarsonly.com/page/page/187576.htm

St. Louis FB users go to: https://www.facebook.com/pages/St-Louis-Classic-Car-and-Hot-Rod-Clubs/97883669371

This online list has cruise-ins all over the country: http://www.carshowguide.com/

And this one also offers a nationwide source of various classic car and hot rod events here: http://www.carshowlist.com/

There continues to be an amazing source of cruise-ins in every town in America. Google or Bing “(Your city) classic car cruise nights” and I think you’ll find cruise-ins, auto collections, auto museums, and auto shows everywhere. That’s because America still has a love affair with their automobiles. It’s their personal ‘Dream Machine.’

IMG_2207 IMG_2273

 

 

 

Restoration projects and metal benders.

I have been thinking about this for a good while. What makes a person restore an older car? What drives him/her? How does a normal everyday person decide to rebuild a car they saw in their childhood?

This week I ran into a quasi-relative at a first-year-old’s birthday party for my…Nephew-in-law’s son. Cliff is the child’s father’s uncle, which would make him a great uncle? I’m sure he is. Or is it…well, it doesn’t matter, I’ve played golf with Cliff for over 20 years so he’s considered, a friend, a friend that I never knew that well. I didn’t know, until now, that he is an artist…with metal.

IMG_2514

Cliff also told me something else that he never mentioned to me, that he rebuilt a classic ’56 Chevy B210 into a very nice lookin’ Dream Machine that has some nice power as well. The car used to have a straight 6, but now has a Chevy 350 V8 that has about 300 HP. He also mentioned that he made many parts from scratch; he’s an expert welder and bends metal to his liking.

IMG_2516

This I had to see. So, my kids and I rode out to Cliff’s place in the country. Way out in the country. My 17 year-old daughter, Courtney, and her twin, my son, Chase, was with me and when they saw the car as we drove into the driveway that features a four-car garage, they gasped and their eyes grew large.

IMG_2518

The Chevy is a gorgeous shade of orange, like an Orange Crush. Beautiful. Cliff told us that he carefully, and meticulously painted the car in his garage. I took a peak inside at the interior expecting to see floor shifter and yes, there it was, but it looked different. It was an automatic transmission. Cliff said he didn’t like shifting a lot whenever he’s in a parade or at a cruise-in.

IMG_2517

Cliff’s wife, Joy, invited us inside for a drink and we got surprised again. Cliff is such a good metal bender, that he makes model ships…out of stainless steal. Not small ships, large art sculptures with a lot of detail. I’ll post some pictures. Out back of his house was another surprise; a 30’ deep pond with fish and a diving board. Not a bad lifestyle.

IMG_2527

Cliff wanted us to see his neighbor’s project car, so we hopped in his Chevy and took a short ride with a low rumble. His friend Rocky, lives just a few houses down, but his large barn-like garage told me a lot. The garage door was open and inside was a hot rod made from a ’30 Ford. It was on a lift, but the closer you got, the better it looked. Court and Chase were mesmerized by this…work of art.

IMG_2530

Rocky told us that many parts on the highboy were hand made from stainless steel (I could see Cliff, had a hand in this). Rocky agreed to build the car for a guy named, Jerry Bullock, who is going to give it to his 70 year–old wife. Jerry gave Rocky plenty of money to work with so it would come out spectacular. It’s quite evident that Rocky is another artist. The paint job alone was gorgeous, which included a very detailed paint job on the engine as well. The 350 Chevy Corvette engine was ground down to smoothness so the paint could go one evenly and smoothly. Awesome. Even the bottom of the car was spectacular.

IMG_2534

In the back of the garage was a ’64 Pontiac GTO that needed a lot of work. Cliff mentioned that he needed a body panel so he just made it from scratch. In another room, Rocky converted it into a paint shop. Inside, under wraps, was an old Jaguar that they had just dropped an engine into, but it was a long-term project.

IMG_2532

Metal benders like Cliff and Rocky can turn a piece of metal into art, functional art. They built a real Dream Machine, pretty much from scratch.

IMG_2535

There’s an interesting article about restoring a car that is in much more detail than I can give. Check out this Dream Machine project at:  http://www.chevyhardcore.com/project-cars/project-swinger/project-swinger-the-project-build-wrap-up-for-our-71-nova-part-i/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=project-swinger-the-project-build-wrap-up-for-our-71-nova-part-i

IMG_2520IMG_2521

IMG_2524IMG_2526

 

 

 

Classic car collections – Ken Lingenfelter

Wow. Talk about, ‘Dream Machines,’ this car collection has been listed as one of the top ten car collections…in the world. I believe Jay Leno’s collection is also on that list.

IMG_2464

The Lingenfelter collection is owned by, Ken Lingenfelter, who is an old friend from back in the…’60s. He’s all grown up and owns and operates a ‘speed shop’ type company called, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, http://www.lingenfelter.com, which has in the past specialized in modifying GM products, like Corvettes and Camaro, but now they have been expanding into some Fords, like Mustangs, as well.

IMG_2465

If you have the ‘need for more speed,’ but don’t want to buy another car, Ken is the guy to call. His speed shop will build muscle into your machine. They can also modify the car body, making dramatic statements, sometimes with spectacular results.

IMG_2467

Ken’s collection is in a very large building in Brighton, Michigan that makes a large new car dealership look small. There are enormous rooms and each over-sized room is jammed with classy cars. I didn’t count, but one person at the hot dog stand told me there were around 200 cars…indoors.

IMG_2473

Each room is filled with primarily one type of car. Like, one room had predominately foreign muscle cars like Bugati’s, Ferraris, Porsches, a Bentley, and one I wasn’t sure about.

IMG_2472

In another room is a lot of classic cars like ’63-’72 Chevelle SS’s, 442’s, Camaro SS’s, and too many to list. Check out the photos. One car was a ’64 or ’65 Pontiac 2+2 convertible, which had 421 inches of modified power. It was very similar to my old ’62 Bonneville convertible, but with more power per inch.

IMG_2476

In yet another room was a beautiful sight. It was packed tightly with wall-to-wall Corvettes. Mainly early ’54-mid-60s, but all the way up to a 2014 ‘vette. Walking into that room, I overheard a guy in the crowd, who was looking at a ’67 Covette with a 427 LS7 engine say, “Smells like America.”

IMG_2475

REEE-OAR!!! In the foreign room, Ken fired up a hot looking Enzo Ferrari and the loud blast from the sweet sound of high-performance power, sent the excited crowd running toward the rumble. By the time I got there, the large crowd was squeezed against the car and Ken was out of the car waving to a loud cheer, and now crushed by admirers and their high-tech questions on super-chargers vs turbo charged and power-tech issues that were way out of my league, but he could answer off–the-cuff.

 

Ken Lingenfelter

Ken Lingenfelter

I’m hoping to see Ken again soon at his very cool new summer-time Saturday morning tradition, ‘Cars & Coffee’ cruise-ins. They start May 3rd and go on every Saturday morning from 8am-10am. It’s at the ‘North Engine build facility’ of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering at 47451 Avante, at Beck Rd. in Wixom, Michigan.

IMG_2479

All makes and models are welcome to this cruise-in, it’s free and according to the printed announcement, the Cars & Coffee is, “a gathering of like-minded enthusiasts. It’s a place to take your ride, share stories and see some amazing cars.”

Of course, I prefer to call them; ‘Dream Machines.’

IMG_2480

IMG_2485

IMG_2477