Is it a sign of the times? I sure hope so. I’m talking about the big number of collector cars attending car shows and cruise nights in the Northwest Herald readership area.
I’m not talking about classic vintage rides like, let’s say, a 1933 Lincoln LeBaron Convertible coupe or a 1927 Rolls Royce Phantom. No, I’m talking about a vehicle that is about 25 years or just a little older – something like a 1992 Camaro Z28. But I’ll include back to a car from the late 1940s and everything in between that is unique, fun to drive and show off.
At the Green Street Cruise Night at the downtown municipal parking lot in McHenry every Monday night through Sept. 25, week in and week out it’s nothing for this event to have close to 300 cool rides show up for people to look at and talk about. Vintage cars are just a great reminder of our youth, so whether you’re 16 or 96, you always can enjoy them. This event is a well-established car happening, so a big turnout of cars and pickups is no surprise.
But let’s take a look at a small town such as Sleepy Hollow that has an annual car show and an average turnout of 50 to 75 collector rides attend its event. That is up until this year. The show was July 4 at the Sabatino park facility in Sleepy Hollow and had the largest turnout ever, with 147 head-turning beautiful machines on display. Way to go, Sleepy Hollow! It was a fantastic turnout, and nothing’s to say that next year’s show won’t have an even bigger draw. I certainly hope so.
On July 8, I attended the village of Island Lake’s Lakefest 2017 car show in the parking lot of St. John’s Church. As I pulled my 1932 Ford street rod into the show grounds about 9:30 a.m., there already were 30 or so cars parked and being detailed by their owners for the day’s show. It turned out to be a real fun show with some very special rides on display, along with a few future big bucks classics to check out. I say future classics because at the present time you still can buy these cars for reasonable prices, but in 10 to 15 years, they will be worth quite a bit of money and out of reach for the average person. The first such car I saw was a very nice survivor 1977 Pontiac Can-Am equipped with the original huge factory installed (W72) 6.6-liter (400-cubic-inch) T/A motor fitted with an automatic transmission. It also had the small rear side windows fitted with slotted vents. Owner Dave Ponczkowski of Spring Grove can be very proud he owns and drives this rare – and getting rarer – automobile. With its big cubic inch V-8 engine, it is one of only 1,377 made. This car’s future collectability is guaranteed.
The second car to really catch my eye was parked right next to me at the show and belonged to Island Lake Police Chief Tony Sciarrone, and what a car he brought! His 1979 “collector series” Lincoln Mark V personal coupe is just starting to come into its own and is truly a modern day classic. The AAA (Antique Automobile Club of America) description of a classic car is a “fine” or “unusual” motor vehicle, foreign or domestic, between 25 and 50 years old. Sciarrone’s car hits the mark on all requirements. His ’79 Lincoln “collectors series” Mark V is on every major car collector’s radar screen.
With its stunning good looks both inside and out, power from a big 402-cubic-inch V-8 motor and backed up by a C6 heavy-duty automatic transmission, this car is one elegant cruiser. At almost 5,000 pounds, its top speed still is well in excess of more than 100 mph. The Mark V Lincoln, no matter what year, is a much sought-after automobile. It was Lincoln’s top-of-the-line model from 1977-79. It was expensive and made a bold statement when seen on the street that says, “I’ve made it, I’m successful, and I’m driving the best set of wheels the Ford Motor Company makes.” This car’s value will skyrocket within the next few years.
I have to mention a spectacular paint job on a car at this show. The car is a 1959 Oldsmobile “98” two-door hardtop out of Lake Villa. The paint job on this car was just absolutely fantastic. The base color was a late model Cadillac pearl white, with “Watson” style scallops done in a bright red metal flake – period-perfect for a custom car between 1957 to 1961. If you Google “Larry Watson House of Style, Long Beach, California,” you will see where the style of paint on the Oldsmobile came from.
My hat’s off to show director Mike Mascillino and his hard-working staff for hosting such a fine show. The show had a very nice turnout of 80 great collector rides on display. Twenty-four trophies were awarded to various class winners as chosen by Island Lake Mayor Charles Amrich and his brothers, Ted and Tom. They are all car guys that started working on cars back in the 1950s at their father’s auto repair business in Island Lake. The Best of Show award was a real treat, and the award everyone wanted to win. It was a one-of-a-kind trophy made by custom glass artist Mark Beeson of Attention to Detail Inc. of Island Lake. The award went to David Turner with his 1964 Dodge Polara 500.
On July 9, I was off to the fourth annual Heritage Fair Car Show in downtown Union. Again, there was a definite wow turnout, with vintage tin parked from one end to another through downtown Union. It was a beautiful sight to behold with a fantastic 115 entrants. With this many cars to look at, it took my wife and I most of the afternoon to check out all of the fine machinery and interesting antiques for sale at the McHenry County Historical Society white elephant sale during the show.
With the many cars I looked at in the weekend car shows, perhaps my favorite was Bob and Jan Newman’s exquisite 1958 Pontiac Bonneville Sports Coupe in Union – what a time capsule of a true American luxury hot rod. This extremely flashy car, with its racy good looks, was designed by none other than famous GM design head Harley Earl, and its outstanding good looks have withstood the trial of time. Powered by a 370-cubic-inch, 300-horsepower overhead valve V-8 engine, topped with a three deuce carburetion system, all you had to do to hit triple digits on your speedometer back in 1958 was to mash the gas pedal to the floor of this Marlin Turquoise over Mallard Turquoise four-wheel street rocket and you’d be at 125 mph in a flash. The interior is a perfect work of automotive art, in particular its chrome-laden dash. It’s almost like looking at a jeweler’s showcase. It’s just a stunning car.
With big turnouts for all of these car shows, I get the definite feeling the hobby is going in the right direction. When I see the owners of these cars are between 25 to around mid-40s, I know growth for future car shows looks extremely promising. Car collecting is no different than any other hobby; you need new young blood to keep it going, and I’m seeing a lot of that lately.