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Classic Cruising with Larry D'Argis

A fantastic flashback to the '50s

Flashback weekend a hit, raising thousands of dollars for charity

The 22nd annual Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba’s Flashback Weekend went off without a hitch.

The Sock Hop Social on Friday drew a crowd of more than 400 to the Transcona Country Club.

The hall was decked out like a Buddy Holley concert and a pair of classic cars flanked the stage.

The dance floor was packed all night thanks to an endless stream of ‘50s and ‘60s hits performed by The Twilights band.

The huge silent auction in support of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation was also a terrific hit.

Saturday saw club members escort more than 70 classic vehicles on a scenic cruise from Garden City Shopping Centre up Main Street to River Road and onto Lockport for an afternoon of fun and great food at the Half Moon Drive-In.

The cruise mirrored a drive many of us took in our youth to enjoy the delicious hot dogs and ice cream treats the area is noted for.

The weekend concluded Sunday at the Garden City Shopping Centre with the largest free car show in Manitoba.

The Garden City location has played host to the show for the past 21 years and has always been well attended by vehicle owners and spectators alike.

With sunshine and mild temperatures, the lot was filled with guests by 10 a.m.

There were T-shirt and hat sales, along with the Russell Lee band thumping out great tunes all afternoon.

It was a parking lot party like no other.

A 50/50 draw saw one lucky winner take home nearly $1,800 and the draw for a retro …

Life in the Fairlane

In the '50s, Ford restyled its vehicles and introduced a smashing success

In 1955, Ford fully restyled its models, but continued to offer buyers ball-joint front suspension and its new Y-Block overhead-valve V-8 engine. A new model line-up — the Fairlane — appeared in six variations, including sedan, hardtop, station wagon and the convertible. Named after Henry Ford’s mansion in Dearborn, Mich., the Fairlane was warmly greeted by buyers and sold better than any models built after production resumed following the Second World War.

For 1956, Ford decided to leave the leading-edge styling alone and concentrated on moderate style upgrades, giving the cars more flash. Also added were even higher horsepower engines to compete with other marques, a 12-volt electrical system and the introduction of new safety features. “Life-Guard” body packages included front seat belts, dished steering wheel, padded dash covers and padded sun visors, offering occupants more protection in the event of a collision.

Even with an economic recession on the horizon, Ford sales exceeded 1.3 million by the model year end. One successful sales campaign was spearheaded by then sales executive Lee A. Iacocca with the company’s $56 for a ‘56 Ford campaign. With a trade-in or modest 20 per cent down payment, buyers could pay the balance of their new Ford purchase at $56 per month over 36 months.

For Pat Fletcher of Winnipeg, the 1956 Ford’s timeless style has always screamed the ’50s. “I’ve always liked them,” Fletcher said. “My wife, Donna, and I had one in the early 1990s that was a nice car with a great ride, and …

Putting on a show

Weekend events help to make car hobby flourish

Looking over the 2016 Manitoba Association of Auto Clubs (MAAC) event guide, it’s easy to see show and shine events are generally held on Saturday and Sunday — offering car enthusiasts an entire weekend to get a car fix.

While at times it can look crowded — especially when rain dates come into play — with our short summer, having shows on both days makes sense.

The established shows are always well-attended and most are located in or around the city.

Many of the rural shows are within a one- or two-hour drive and allow car owners to stretch their legs. It never hurts to log some highway miles on your rides and it also allows clubs to plan breakfast runs and travel together.

Being able to choose Saturday or Sunday shows allows for the obvious growth of events and helps the car hobby flourish.

Summer Sundays can often become hectic with church, family gatherings and sporting events, so catching a Saturday show may be a better fit. Clubs and venues are able to expand charitable fundraising, as well.

Most shows have a charity represented at them and there has always been a positive thrust toward helping these entities move forward in their work with fundraising efforts.

An added spin off is as the hobby grows, the need for businesses and services increase to meet the needs of the hobby. Paint and body shops, parts suppliers, general maintenance shops, detailing businesses and more can all benefit from growth in the hobby.

When we look at growth of …

An American icon

Ford's Mustang has a long and storied racing history

In 1965, the Ford Motor Company approached legendary racer, car designer and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby about qualifying the Mustang as a sports car to compete in the Sports Car Club of America competitions.

As a result, Shelby and Ford created hundreds of GT 350 fastbacks for competition and for public sale. Shelby American even produced 16 coupes in 1966 that competed in the A/Sedan Group 2 class of racing. With the Mustang’s success, more began surfacing in competition, including the coupe model. Many individual racers saw the opportunity to take these lightweight coupes to the next level as racers and they often fared well in competition.

Today, the Mustang fastbacks and convertibles from the 1960s are coveted collectibles. The vintage coupe is also a player in the market, but can be had for much less of an investment, even though it offers much the same driving characteristics. Back in 1966, the coupe was priced only $231 less than the convertible and $191 less than the fastback — but today their values are far less than the other models.

Because of the price differential, the coupes are probably on the cusp of being a hot commodity. With their classic style, ease of maintenance and the plethora of restoration and performance modification parts available in today’s market, it makes them a great buy. Drag car, slalom racer, street machine, classic cruiser or pro touring — all are within your grasp equally with a coupe.

For Derrick Ramsey of Winnipeg, growing up in the ‘60s in Brandon, …

IMPORTED luxury

Vintage Vauxhall rare, capable cruiser

Vauxhall Iron Works in London had long been a boat producer before its first chain-drive runabout left the plant in 1903.

Not much more than a motorized carriage with tiller steering and no reverse gear, Vauxhall continued to improve.

By 1922, the Vauxhall D-type was seen as a reliable vehicle and capable of a top speed near the 160 km/h mark. Financial ills in the mid-1920s resulted in Vauxhall being purchased by General Motors — and that opened up a whole new market for the cars.

By the late 1940s, the popularity of economical and inexpensive compact vehicles began to take a foothold in the North American market and the Vauxhall was a staple in GM showrooms.

For 1957, the General Motors styling influence could be seen in the new Victor model. A squarish profile aimed at international sales, the Vauxhall featured lower glass lines, liberal use of chrome trim, and column-shifted manual transmission.

Sales continued to climb through the 1959 model and GM felt it was time for its own compact and introduced the European-inspired rear-engine, air-cooled, Chevrolet Corvair. Sales were slow at first and it was noted a good many buyers still wanted the conventional front-engine, rear-drive layout.

Vauxhall adopted a wider grille in 1960 with minor styling changes, but for 1962, it would see a total restyling. Five inches longer, with a two-inch increase in wheelbase, the Victor received a new wider grille that incorporated the headlamps.

For Tom Dudych of Winnipeg, the Vauxhall experience came in 1975, when his father, Joe, purchased a …

Hot SUMMER nights

Pony Corral Sunday night cruise a Manitoba tradition

Whether you call it hot August nights or the dog days of summer — August on the Prairies typically offers great weather for outdoor activities. Last Sunday with mild temperatures and not a cloud in the sky, the crowd came out in droves for Sunday Night Cruise Nite at the Pony Corral Restaurant and Bar, located at the Grant Park Shopping Centre on the corner of Grant Avenue and Wilton Street. Pony Corral owner Peter Ginakes is a longtime lover of all things automotive and has been welcoming the car community to his restaurants since 1986.

Event sponsors include Rondex, Piston Ring Service, BIG 97.5, CJOB, Coors, Coca-Cola and Willy’s Garage. In addition to all the great classic and special-interest vehicles on display there’s also onsite entertainment and fabulous prizes given away in both the weekly and final summer draws. With tasty burgers and hot-dogs available from the Pony’s food cart, aptly modelled after a Ford Model T, and great meals on the patio or inside the restaurant, there’s always plenty of options to take care of those hunger pangs.

For the past 10 years the Pony Corral has teamed up with the Fabulous 50’s Ford Club of Manitoba to manage the parking lot directly in front of the restaurant — where featured auto clubs showcase their member’s vehicles each week. In addition to the featured weekly guest car club member vehicles prominently displayed up front, there is also reserved parking for more than 300 classic and special-interest vehicles in Grant …

1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado the epitome of elegance

Classy coupe

For 1967, Cadillac introduced its new Fleetwood Eldorado Coupe. Sharing the same E-body platform as the Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado, it was the first Cadillac to be billed as a personal luxury car. Radically styled with hidden headlamps and riding on a 120-inch wheelbase, with a 221-inch overall length and weighing in at 4,590-pounds — it was also the shortest and lowest Cadillac on the market in ’67. With a base price of $6,277, it still offered full six-passenger seating, thanks to the flat floor in front afforded from the front-wheel-drive platform borrowed from the Toronado.

The Eldorado used its own highly stylized sheet metal along with a slightly longer wheelbase and modified frame. The Toronado front torsion bar suspension was shared as was its 425 Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic transmission. It still relied on the tried and true Cadillac 429-cubic-inch V-8. Equipped with 10.5:1 compression, four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, it produced 340 horsepower and 480 foot pounds of torque.

Mounted longitudinally, a massive enclosed chain carried the power 180 degrees from the torque convertor to the transmission nestled under the right bank of the engine. The final 3.21:1 ratio drive was fed through a differential mounted in front of the transmission, which utilized a left driveshaft routed through a cylindrical passage through the oil pan.

While it may sound technically confusing and a bit strange, it was very reliable. This is the same platform that would go on to power many models of large motorhomes well into the 1980s.

For Bill Eamer …

Heavy hitter

Dodge Dart Swinger tribute covers all the bases

The new compact Dodge Dart hit showrooms in 1963 as a replacement for the previous Lancer model introduced in 1961. Slightly larger than the Lancer, it offered styling similar to the rest of the Dodge lineup and included 170, 270 and GT trim levels. Completely restyled from the chassis up in 1967, the Dart was given a more refined look, and even though they looked larger, they were actually a half-inch shorter. Sales were brisk, as the car appealed to a broad market. Young and older buyers alike saw the car’s size and available options as great value for the dollar.

For 1968, Dodge was looking for more of a performance image with the Dart and introduced the 340-cubic-inch, V-8 powered GTS as a special high-performance version of the GT. At nearly $300 more, it actually crept into the mid-size Coronet market, and sales were less than hoped for. The answer came in 1969 as the Dart Swinger. The Swinger 340 became Dodge’s new “Scat Pack” economy sports performance model. With the emphasis on performance over luxury, weighing in at 3,179 pounds and motivated by the 275-horsepower 340 V-8 it gave muscle-car fans more bang for their buck. Not as flashy as the GTS, it was equally as fast or faster, and because it was considered a compact car, insurance companies charged lower premiums than other muscle cars.

For Mark Stanczak of St. Andrews, his Dart experience began in 1974 when his father, Ted, purchased the family’s 1974 Dart SE. “I was …

Classy coupe

Rare Lincoln a strikingly beautiful design

In the 1950s, Lincoln bore strong styling ties to the Mercury, until 1956. With the formation of the Continental division and the introduction of the Continental Mk II, the Lincoln lineup took on many styling elements from the Ford concept and show cars. For 1958, the new idea was a bold move in style and presence, and cost-cutting. With management’s objective to outdo the competition with a longer, lower and faster car, chief stylist John Najjar had his work cut out for him. While high tail fins were still in vogue, Najjar’s design incorporated a modest fin that produced a design that has been coined “rectilinear” yet still keeping the car’s lines in a splendid profile. Expanding the Continental division to share the same uni-body platform as other Lincoln vehicles resulted in a $4,000 price reduction. Produced from 1958 to 1960, Lincolns would become some of the largest and longest wheelbase vehicles ever produced by the Ford Motor Company.

With the emphasis on excess, the Lincoln rode on a 131-inch wheelbase, with an overall length of 227.2-inches and a width of 80.3 inches. Mammoth in proportions, the Lincoln used its sheer size as a fashion statement. Large quad-canted headlamps, sculptured side panels and small tail fins with a dollop of chrome trim, they left buyers awestruck. While the 1958 economic recession didn’t help sales, it was the first time in the decade where sales dropped below 10,000 units per series. Still, it was a beautiful car and made everything else on …

Golden MOPAR

Fifty years later muscular Dodge Charger still thrills

A golden anniversary isn’t something to be taken lightly. The 50-year mark is really a cause for celebration, and this year, the party belongs to the 1966 Dodge Charger.

The early 1960s saw a marketing shift toward more mid-priced and sporty cars such as the Ford Mustang and Plymouth Barracuda.

Over at the Dodge division, talk was of producing a new Dodge aimed at the youth market segment, similar to the Barracuda.

For Burt Bouwkamp, chief engineer for Dodge, the last thing he wanted was a Barracuda clone that would actually compete with it for sales.

Turning the project over to designer Carl “Cam” Cameron, he tooled up a show car for the 1965 show-car circuit.

The racy Charger II, based on the Coronet model, had hidden headlamps, modified rear quarter panels with full wheel openings, larger triangular “C”-pillars, a large, flat rear window and a six-bulb rear taillight that spanned the full width of the rear of the car.

Billed exclusively as a concept and idea car, it was shown as something that may go into production if there was enough market interest in the design.

Viewers may not have known, but the design, name and marketing for the car had already been approved, and it would debut in Dodge showrooms in 1966.

Available only as a two-door fastback coupe, the Charger came standard with four bucket seats, full-length centre console and fold-down seats in the rear, offering a small cavern for luggage or storage. Along with the new body style, new name and optional equipment, there …

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