A car lover’s paradise

ALPENA -Over 50 cars were on display Friday during the 28th Annual Ramblin’ Rods/Big Boy Car Show. The show has been a popular stop for many classic car and hot rod owners, with some attending the show the entire 28 years.

“Usually we have between 80 and 100 cars for the show. One year we have almost 300 cars show,” club President Kim Yachasz said. “We try to help the community any way we can when we put on a show, like the 50/50 we do, half of it goes to the humane society. We get people from all over coming here for the show.”

Cars and trucks at the show range in year from the early 1930s to today, and all have some type of sentimental value to their owners.

Kristin Lucaroni and her son Darrin are the owners of a 1968 lime green Ford Torino that has been passed to them from Kristin’s late husband.

“My husband gave me this car for my birthday,” Lucaroni said. “This is our first year at the show because we just made the car street legal last year.”

Many of the owners have similar stories to Lucaroni’s, with vehicles being handed down the generations through loved ones as a family heirloom.

June Thompson is the third generation owner of her original 1967 Pontiac Catalina. Her grandmother, Ida Diamond, bought the car straight off the showroom floor and used to have her grandchildren drive her around in it.

“It was my grandma’s and mother’s car,” Thompson said. “Then I got it, and eventually my grandson’s will have it. I’ve had it for 30 years, and it has never been owned out of the family. It’s a family heirloom.”

Thompson has a plaque with the original check stub and title of when her grandmother purchased the vehicle and proudly displayed it under the hood of her car.

Perry Phillips is also the owner of a family car, but his story is a bit different than Thompson’s. Phillips ’65 Mustang GT known as “Crazy Horse” has been a work in progress between him and his daughter for around 13 years.

“It was pretty beat up when I got it,” Phillips said. “We did almost all the mechanical and body work ourselves. It was my first car, and when the opportunity came along, I bought it.”

Phillips plans on keeping the Mustang in the family by passing it to his daughters and then to their sons.

Some of the owners don’t have family ties with their cars, but bought them because they owned one when they were in school, like Terry Lundberg of Lewiston. Lundberg owns a 1955 creme and maroon Chevrolet Bel Air hard top and has turned the car into a street rod.

“The color scheme really caught my eye,” Lundberg said. “I was looking for a ’57, but I am happy I got the ’55. I like the look better.”

Lundberg had a Bel Air in high school and said the car brings back a lot of memories.

“I graduated in the ’70s and even then the car was old,” he said. “I put a lot of work in it because I wanted something with a little more rumble. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve been at the show.”

Not all of the cars in the show are local, and three men traveled over 200 miles with their families from Lake Orion to show their cars at Big Boy.

Lloyd English and his almost completely original 1963 Pontiac Catalina named “Baby Blue” have been coming to the show for over eight years and he usually spends the weekend in the area.

Another Lake Orion owner, Gary Soulliere, drove in his 1970 original Buick Skylark, the “Eed Baron.” The Buick had been stripped down at one point in its life and Soulliere was surprised not to find a speck of bondo on it.

“It was made in Flint, and when I bought it, it just needed upholstery,” he said. “It’s 95 percent original, and one out of four had a mirror on the passenger side. I found one with a mirror on that side, and I bought it. I got it from California. The wife and I were looking for a Mustang, but we saw this car and the salesman said the price was negotiable. I made him an offer and he came back and said ‘you just bought a vehicle.’ They only made a little over 4,000 of them.”

Doug Green, also from Lake Orion, drove his 1965 AC Roadster to the show. He purchased the car from a factory in South Africa in 2002 and had it delivered two months later.

“When I was 15 I lived in Pontiac. I saw one of these cars tear up a Corvette and said, one of these days, I’m going to get that car,” Green said. “She’s my little African sweetheart, and the second one I own. I had a red one before her. She attracts a lot of attention.”

There was a one-of-a-kind 1980 Hurst Olds at the show owned by Larry Fink. The car is a concept car and Fink was lucky enough to stumble on it at an auction.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” Fink said.

For most of the owners at the show, obtaining their prize vehicle was a matter of right time and place and an opportunity to own a piece of history, not just the classic vechicle, but a nostalgic reminder of their own unique past every time they get behind the wheel.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.