Thursday, May 31, 2012

1950s Cars From Glen Este

        After yesterday's example of a very different mid-1950s car, I thought it would be nice to show some of the other nice cars from that era that were on display at the Glen Este Classic Car Show.
        There were a number of the usual Chevy Bel Airs but also a surprising number of Chevys from the early part of that decade. In addition, there were some great looking Fords and a even a couple of pick up trucks.
        For me, ti's always fun to see the mid decade Bel Airs that have been lovingly restored, it's a thrill to see so many other great 50s cars as well. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Mid-Fifties Star From Pontiac

            It may be hard to imagine as you’re walking around a typical car show that General Motors, or for that matter, just about anyone, else made a car in the mid-1950s except the Chevy Bel Air. The so called “tri fives” from 1955, 1956 and 1957 are generally very prominent at shows all over the country.
            But Russ Fisher knows better. He knows that not only were other quality cars made during those years but also great cars by other G.M. divisions. There’s a reason he should know this, he’s owned four.
            At a recent show Russ was showing off his latest era beauty, a 1956 Pontiac Star Chief convertible.
            “I bought it in 2008 and finished it in 2009,” he said. What he finished was a complete body off restoration. “We restored it to factory original,” he added.
            He wanted to keep this car as close to showroom quality as possible, right down to the paint. “Originally it was black on black but I like red,” Russ said. “These are original factory colors.”
            The car was in pretty good shape when Russ got it. “It had some rust on the frame but not too much,” he said. The car currently shows between 63-64,000 miles but he isn’t sure those are original.
            Not that it matters, Russ is obviously fond of Pontiacs. His very first car was a 1956 Pontiac Catalina 860 convertible which he kept and restored and only sold this past fall. He still owns two others besides the Star Chief.
            “I bought the car from a woman who was going to sell it eventually. I just had to convince her to sell it to me,” he said.
            Though he hasn’t driven the car a lot since he finished the restoration, he has entered a few car shows. One show in particular proved the quality of the both car and restoration job.
            “At the Pontiac Nationals it took Best in Class and the Preferred Vote,” he said. The Preferred Vote came from those in attendance who admired his car.
            While at first glance from a distance one might confuse the Star Chief with a similar era Bel Air, Pontiac made sure to give this car its own personal stamp. There were a number of parts that G.M. made interchangeable with the Bel Air but the Star Chief, which was introduced in 1954, was the division’s top of the line model, set with lots of chrome and upscale options, such as air conditioning in 1955 and seat belts in 1956.
            Fans of I Love Lucy may remember that when the show moved from New York to Hollywood in the 1954-55 season, it was a Star Chief convertible that they drove across country. And understandably so.
            “It has a long wheel base and it rides real well,” said Russ. And, like Pontiacs of the 50s and 60s, it had performance as well. In 1956 they introduced a new 316 cubic inch V-8 engine that, with the “Power Pack” option which included a four barrel dual carb, pushed 227 horse power.
            With looks, power and performance, it’s easy to see why Russ hasn’t looked beyond Pontiac.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Drumming Up Support

The Glen Este Classic Car Show at Glen Este High School was a huge success this year. While admission to check out the cars is free, donations are accepted as all proceeds go to help the Glen Este band programs.
I must admit that I have something of a vested interest in this as my nephew, just finishing up his first year at Glen Este Middle School, is now involved in this musical program. He plays the drums. Naturally a boy who wants to beat on things. And he is pretty good at it.
A ton of research shows that kids who are involved in music score higher on standardized tests and tend to have higher scores all the way around. They also have a good social life. “One time, at band camp…..”
All of my kids were involved in music throughout their school careers. My oldest was even courted by the famous Ohio State Marching Band as he was an excellent tuba player. They wanted him to “dot the I.” Along with my daughter and other son, my kids have had the opportunity to travel and perform all over, including Carnegie Hall, Washington, DC and Orlando, FL. In my book, supporting school musical programs is always a good endeavor. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Glen Este High School Classic Car Show

            For the past couple of springs Glen Este high school has hosted a classic car show in an effort to raise money for the band program. Each of the last two years the primary date has been rained out and the backup date got lost in the end of school year and beginning of car show season crunch.
            This year, though, was different. The weather co-operated and the turnout of both car owners and those who just wanted to admire the vehicles on display was fantastic. While the organizers were hoping to get about 60 cars the lot was very full to the tune of almost 110.
While the usual suspects were in good supply, there were some interesting and unique rides that showed up as well. This week I’ll share some of these, the ones you would expect as well as the ones you don’t always see. And, is usually the case, there will be some left over that I’ll get to later in the year. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gems From Europe

            Snook’s Dream Cars in Bowling Green, OH has a great collection of classic, collectible and vintage vehicles. Among those great rides are a number of wonderful European cars that Jeff Snook and his father, Bill, have amassed.

            A 1952 MG Midget TD is the oldest of these European imports. The T Series Midgets were first introduced in 1936 and were manufactured through 1955. The TD was the fourth generation of the series and was rolled out in 1950 and sported a 1250 cc four cylinder motor that pushed 54 horse power and delivered a recorded top speed of 77 miles per hour. This particular model was restored in 1996 and has been in Bowling Green since 1972.

            The oldest of two Jaguars is a 1953 XK 120 FHC fixed head coupe. When this car was first released in 1948 it was the fastest production car on the market with a top speed, according to Jaguar, of 124 miles per hour. Powered by a 3.4 liter straight six with dual overhead valves, this car pushed 160 horse power. This particular model was completely restored in 1985.

            Perhaps one of the most unique little European cars ever made was the BMW Isetta. Snook’s has a 1957 Isetta 300 on display. In fact it’s one of the first cars you’ll see when you enter the museum. Like a lot of German companies, BMW was in trouble following WW II. This little single door car weighed under 800 pounds and was perfect for city driving. It had a one cylinder 300 cc rear engine with 13 horse power that gave it a top speed of 40 miles per hour.

            A second MG is on display; a 1962 MG A Mk II. Introduced in 1955, this was quite a change from the earlier T Series Midgets. Small, weighing under 2000 pounds, this was a zippy, sporty, fun car to drive, especially on curvy roads. With a 1600 cc four cylinder it had all of 90 horse power but could top out at near 95 miles per hour and got nearly 27 miles per gallon in fuel economy. This particular model was restored in 1986.

            One of my favorite cars of all time is represented here as well. A 1963 Jaguar E Type in British racing green is a true wonder to behold as well as drive. A 3.8 liter six cylinder engine generates 265 horse power to push a car that weighs less than 2500 pounds and literally hugs the road on even the most unforgiving curves. The first time I talked with Jeff Snook, he had just driven this car up to Toledo to dinner the night before. I’m sure it was a wonderful ride.

            The newest of the European cars is a 1966 Morris Mini Cooper S Mk 1. Since “resurrected” as a BMW, the original was first introduced in 1959 up until 2000. Small, economical and a bit more roomy than you would think on first glance, the Mini was seen as the perfect car for sporting about. It wasn’t designed to go fast with its 1250 cc four cylinder engine that generated all of 75 horse power. But with a curb weight of under 1500 pounds that was more than enough to get people around.
            I hope you enjoyed this look at the vehicles in Snook’s Dream Cars. To find out more please visit their web site at