Arizona a hotbed for classic cars

by Larry D'Argis . Feb 16 2018
Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressStudebaker woodie wagon.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Studebaker woodie wagon.

While most of us battle through the last few weeks of winter and look forward to the upcoming cruising season here in Manitoba, many Canadian snowbirds have taken up partial residence down south in several American states, including Arizona — where the car hobby thrives year-round.

In the Mesa area there are four to six collector car gatherings per week, with each offering a diverse and eclectic selection of vehicles for spectators and enthusiasts alike to enjoy.

Similar to here in Manitoba, the shows are hosted by car clubs, businesses and schools.

Last week, I attended the 20th annual Navy Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (NJROTC) Benefit Car & Motorcycle Show in the Greater Phoenix area.

This event attracted quality participants from local car clubs, as well as individual car and motorcycle enthusiasts. Proceeds from the event went to the NJROTC program for educational field trips and to enter local, state and national competitions. The show has always been well attended, and the 100-plus vehicles at this year’s show once again wowed the crowd.

With a live auction, 50/50 draw, a pancake breakfast and vehicle awards, it was similar to the Manitoba shows we’re all accustomed to.

The quality of vehicles was second to none, with many makes and models rarely seen in Winnipeg. Scanning the parking lot, I saw vehicle licence plates ranging from Florida to Alaska and everywhere in between — as well as plates from several Canadian provinces. The friendly and jovial attitude found throughout the day was very similar to the scene we have here in Manitoba.

Later in the day, I attended the weekly Saturday afternoon gathering in the parking lot of the Target store in nearby Mesa, which featured about 140 great-looking vehicles, ranging from muscle cars to award-winning street rods and even a street-legal dune buggy.

Although this was just a small taste of the amazing Arizona car scene, the day reminded me of the great collector car shows we have here in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba every summer.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press1949 Mercury convertible.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

1949 Mercury convertible.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressRat rod.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Rat rod.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free PressJack Daniels themed Harley-Davidson trike.

Larry D’Argis / Winnipeg Free Press

Jack Daniels themed Harley-Davidson trike.