Memorial Weekend in Rochester opens summer car shows

ROCHESTER, Mich. — Memorial Day weekend signals the opening of summer car shows in much of Michigan, and the city of Rochester is no exception.

This town sets aside two days — Saturday for rods and customs and Sunday for antiques and collectibles, so there is something for everyone who visits the charming Rochester Municipal Park with Paint Creek running through it.

Among the most interesting cars at the Sunday show (the 33rd Annual Festival of Cars) was the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham owned by Glen Durmisevich of Rochester Hills, Mich.
Durmisevich had the front and rear passenger-side doors open for visitors could get a look at the hardware that held the suicide-style doors closed while preserving the hardtop, no-B-pillar look of the limited-production car.

Durmisevich said Cadillac on a special line at its Detroit plant built 400 Eldorado Broughams for 1957 and 304 for 1958. Descended from a Motorama show car and designed by Harley Earl, the car had a unique body, frame and top and cost just over $13,000 new.

“GM lost money on each one,” he said. “They were popular with celebrities including members of the Rat Pack. I bought this one 28 years ago.”

Visitors delighted in some of the special features of the V-8-powered Cadillac with stainless steel roof. A large glovebox up front was stocked with stainless drinking cups that would adhere to a magnetized strip on the inside of the lid. The center armrest in the rear doubled as a vanity case and was stocked with “freshen up” items like a beveled mirror and a bottle of Arpege perfume.

“The car rides on air suspension instead of springs, has a power trunk and an early transistor radio,” Durmisevich said. “It featured an early use of four headlights, had transparent polarized plastic sunvisors and was available in 27 colors — or a custom color of the buyer’s choice.”

Henry Renny’s 1940 Lincoln Zephyr was showing off its rich, deep beetle-green paint, trademark curved grille and conservative striped interior. Renny, of Washington, Mich., bought the Zephyr some 15 years ago from its owner in Grosse Pointe Farms, who loved the Zephyr and felt he couldn’t afford the paint job it then needed.

Collector Rod Dotten of Madison Heights, Mich., has owned his 1910 Maxwell only a year. The AA Sport runabout has right-hand steering, a gas tank under the passenger’s seat, the battery under the driver’s seat and a two-cylinder 12-horsepower engine with planetary gears.

Dotten said his other cars include a ’64 Riviera, a ’55 Pontiac Star Chief, a ’69 AMC AMX and a ’65 Mustang fastback.

Another vintage Cadillac owner, Claude White of Holly, Mich., was happy to show passersby photos of his 1941 Cadillac coupe convertible as it was when he bought it 30 years ago. At that point in its life, the convertible looked like the owner should have paid someone to take it off his hands instead of the other way around.

But, said White, another buyer recognized its potential and tried for several years to purchase the Cadillac from White after he had sealed the deal.

White said he spent five years just looking for the parts he need to restore the car, one of 3,100 convertibles built by Cadillac that year. White invested $3,000 for a zinc diecast grille and said he spent 10 years working on the Cadillac.

“I’ve always loved this car,” he said.

Jenny King is a  Detroit-area free-lance writer. She can be contacted via e-mail at Wright-King@comcast.net.