Winnipeg Free Press

Scottsdale show a car lover's paradise

by Larry D'Argis . Mar 02 2018
Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressA 1969 Yenko Camaro.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

A 1969 Yenko Camaro.

Mesa, Ariz. — Last week, I found myself cruising down Route 60 just outside of Mesa to meet up with friends for a breakfast car show. With my trusty GPS guiding me and Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs blaring from the stereo, it reminded me of the early Sunday morning jaunt I used to take, about 50 kilometres east of Winnipeg to Bison Dragways, for a day of racing.

Like back then, I was meeting up with my friend Gerry Saunders from Winnipeg. Saunders was a regular drag racer back in the ’70s and we renewed our friendship at the Keystone/Bison Dragways Reunion in 2004 and have kept in touch ever since. Saunders calls Mesa home during the winter months and is acting as my guide to the area’s automotive events.

We don’t have many early-morning car-club gatherings in Winnipeg, but in Arizona, this is a weekly ritual for the Seniors Car Club, which meets at the Mirage Restaurant. With 60-plus car shows and race events a month in the greater Phoenix area, they try to make a schedule that informs members of changes and additions, to allow them the maximum exposure to the huge car culture that thrives here in Arizona. Following the breakfast meeting, there’s a gathering of some 80 vehicles that is as elaborate as one would expect of any parking-lot party.

Along with Saunders, my Winnipeg snowbird crew included Terry Turner and Len Wlasichuk, guiding me to the biggest and best events. On Saturday, we went to the famed McDonald’s show in Scottsdale. Long heralded as the spot to see everything that is relevant in the old car hobby, I wasn’t disappointed. Several hundred cars and trucks occupied a very large section of a shopping centre parking lot.

With the vehicles segregated into various rows, to showcase their category and era, it was very easy to negotiate and see how the hobby has evolved to the present day. From the 1970 HemiCuda, to the 1963 R3 Studebaker Avanti and the 1969 Yenko Camaro, I was in muscle-car heaven.

Couple that with a great display of amazing street rods — cars from the 1920s to ’40s like Dodge, Plymouth, Mercury, Hudson, Oldsmobile and other makes that are seldom seen in the Winnipeg scene as street rods are alive and well here in Arizona. The lineup of ’50s cars was as rich with content as one would expect, with everything from perfect restorations, to customs, gassers and several sporting the resto-mod touch of coupling a modern drivetrain and suspension with the fine lines of the ’50s. Next was a Camaro lineup that lived up to the OCD (Obsessive Camaro Disorder) sign board. It was a car enthusiast’s paradise, showcasing the Camaro from its beginnings in ’67, up to today’s supercar models.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressManitobans Terry Turner (from left) with a 1966 Mustang, and Len Wlasichuk and Gerry Saunders with a 1965 GTO.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Manitobans Terry Turner (from left) with a 1966 Mustang, and Len Wlasichuk and Gerry Saunders with a 1965 GTO.