Clear, sunny skies meant shimmering paint jobs, glistening chrome and a huge turnout at the 15th annual C.A.R.S. Club Car Show at McPherson College on May 3.
Jeff Breault of Wichita, Kan., admired the sunlight reflecting off his white and chrome 1954 Cadillac El Dorado convertible. The Cadillac was one of the feature vehicles at the student-run show, which drew about 225 vehicles and about 1,000 visitors to campus. McPherson College is the only one to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration.
On display were cars from nearly every decade, motorcycles, trucks, tractors and, of course, lots of shiny metal.
“Chrome is my favorite color,” Breault said. “I love the lines of the ’50s El Dorado. It just says ‘class.’”
Breault said this was the debut show for “Marilyn” - his name for the long El Dorado convertible, which happens to be of the same make and model as one once owned by Marilyn Monroe.
This show made a perfect venue for Marilyn to greet her public, Breault said. Many of those at the show could appreciate her not only for her looks, but also for her role in history and for what she has under the hood.
“You have real car guys here, not just car show guys,” he said. “They know what they're looking at.”
One of those car guys sat just down the way, showing off his black 1962 Mercury Comet. Jeff Redenbaugh of Hutchinson, a 2010 McPherson College graduate in graphic arts, outfitted the black sedan with a surfboard and picnic basket as a nod to the Comet's history as a popular beach car. Redenbaugh took several restoration courses at the college along with graphic design, and said he loves seeing the classic designs on display.
“This show brings out a lot of great cars,” Redenbaugh said. “I like curves and big fins - classic ’50s and ’60s art deco style.”
The show entry from Rex Rosenberg of Hoisington, Kan., looks just like a classic Volkswagen Beetle - at least from the side. As you come around it looks a bit… flatter. One visitor to the show commented it looked like it had “been in a vice.” Cutting 19 inches out of the middle of a Beetle frame and putting it over a motorcycle engine gives it more of a two-dimensional look. Rosenberg calls it the “Bugwing.”
“One day the idea hit me to cut up a Bug body,” he said, by way of explanation.
The day included much more than cars parked on the campus lawn. Fifteen youngsters participated in the Hagerty Youth Judging program, which allows young people to interact directly with car owners, judge five vehicles for themselves, and grant a special award at the end of the day.
Lonny Bauer of Kingman, Kan., was one of the five selected to show his car for youth judging. He purchased his 1973 Datsun as his college vehicle and has owned it ever since. He said he was excited and honored to have the youth judge his car.
“’When I saw this in 1977, I had to have it,” he said.
Other events included a sheet metal shaping demonstration from Ed Barr, assistant professor of technology, and two demonstrations from two different teams of McPherson College students building a Model T from a pile of parts to a fully-functional vehicle as fast as they could. They competed against each other, but also against themselves to beat a challenge from McPherson College President Michael Schneider - build it faster than 15 minutes and he’d buy them a steak dinner.
“Getting a Model T started in 15 minutes can be a challenge,” said Brian Martin, director of automotive restoration development.
The first team finished in 14 minutes, 39 seconds, and the second team blazed through the build at 9 minutes, 15 seconds. Jared Buckert, senior, Warsaw, Ill., and president of C.A.R.S. Club said that meant each team shaved about five minutes off their next-fastest practice time.
“They were ridiculously fast,” Buckert said.
And, they’ll be enjoying some steak.
The full results of the 2014 C.A.R.S. Club Car Show Awards are as follows:
· Best of Show: 1913 Mercer Model “J” Raceabout, owned by Don Boulton
· People’s Choice: 1913 Little Giant, owned by Chris Paulsen (McPherson, Kan.)
· Students’ Choice: Thunderbird, owned by Dave Christiansen (McPherson, Kan.)
· 1927-older: 1912 Hupmobile, owned by Mark Bauer
· 1928-1944: 1928 Pontiac Woodie, owned by Joe Stout (Wichita, Kan.)
· 1945-1954: 1948 Lincoln Continental, owned by Claude Blakesley (Hutchinson, Kan.)
· 1955-1964: 1957 Chevy 2-door Hardtop, owned by Duane Scardina (Randolph, Kan.)
· 1965-1973: 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass, owned by Autobahn
· 1973-1989: 1974 Plymouth Duster, owned by Gene Smith (Lindsborg, Kan.)
· Special Interest: 2014 Fiesta, owned by Travis Howard
· Truck: 1948 Ford F1, owned by Bill and Linda Hittle
· Hot Rod/Custom: 1972 Nova, owned by Beth Reinecker (McPherson, Kan.)
· Foreign: 1966 MacLaren MIB, owned by Bob Howard
· Tractor: 1959 JD 730 owned by Marvin Miller (Douglass, Kan.)
· Motorcycle: 1979 Harley, owned by Todd L. Wilson (Hutchinson, Kan.)
Hagerty Youth Judging: 1968 Pontiac GTO, owned by Gary Nash (Salina, Kan.)