Sloan Museum Auto Fair show still attracts GM classics

FLINT, Mich. — While Flint is no longer a major manufacturing site for General Motors, the spirit of the auto maker lives on here.

So it was no surprise that the 40th annual Sloan Museum Auto Fair show attracted a huge gathering of GM cars and trucks. Others, of course, were welcome and encouraged. But GM held sway here the weekend of June 23-24 (2012).

Glen LeBeau of Goodrich, Mich. said he bought his 1964 Pontiac GTO convertible with 389 Tri-Power and four-speed manual back in 1997. His wife Dawn did the stunning white interior, which shows so well when the top of the GTO is down and the red lap belts are in place. LeBeau said the car’s exterior once also was white; today it’s “1994 GM red,” he said.

Bill Bastien’s idea of interior covers were western blankets spread across the four rows of seats in his 1965 Checker Aerobus. Bastien, of Flint, said he found this unusual 12-passenger vehicle in Clio, Mich., back around 2000. Powered by a Chrysler 318 V-8, the eight-door Aerobus with rear cargo compartment has held as many as 16 people, Bastien said.

Another interesting owner story was that of Keith Carpenter of Parker, Colo. Carpenter was showing a 1974 Fascination, one of five produced. This model was built by Highway Aircraft Corp., which put a Renault 95.5-inch 70-horsepower four with automatic transmission behind the red plush passenger seats. A prototype for the futuristic car was designed in 1960 by Paul M. Lewis, Carpenter said. The ’74 included a radio, air conditioning, cruise control, a Lexan windshield and air bag suspension. Carpenter owns three of the five Fascinations.

The 2012 Auto Fair drew a number of interesting open-wheel race cars, the oldest of which appeared to be a 1920 HCS Special Series Stutz Roadster. Named for its designer and manufacturer Harry Clayton Stutz, an HCS Special Series Roadster was used as the official pace car for the 1921 Indianapolis 500. The owner of this one, Mike Barry of Lexington, Ohio bought this HCS in 1997 in New Zealand, where it had been restored between 1970 and 1980. Barry said the actual HCS that paced the 1921 race may no longer exist.

A 1958 Kurtis 500H Indy 500 Racer powered by a Kurtis-Offenhauser engine and driven by Johnny Thompson (a.k.a. the flying Scot) qualified for the 1958 Indianapolis 500 , according to owner Robert Sirna. The car finished 23rd.

Another Kurtis project, the 1948 Kurtis-Kraft Special – the Kurtis Copy Offenhauser owned by Lance Brookshire, still races in Antique Auto Racing Assn. events in Ohio. It now has a Falcon 110-inch six-cylinder engine; the original engine for the midget racer was a Ford V8-60. The car was totally restored in 2010.

Like Keith Carpenter, who worked on the restoration of his ’74 Fascination, Tom Kasson of Montrose, Mich. said he and specialists brought his beautiful 1957 Thunderbird back to life. The T-bird has a 312-inch 245-horsepower engine mated with an automatic transmission. Kasson said that Dave Schulze of Flint, Mich. did the car’s body work and paint.

Members of the Delaney family have been taking car of their 1930 Essex Super Six since June of 1930. That’s when the grandfather of current owner Joe Delaney purchased the car new.

And while it is a half-century younger than the Essex Super Six, the survival of the 1981 AMC Concord wagon owned by Polito of Hazel Park, Mich. is remarkable because it came from an era of high-speed rusting. Polito said he methodically rinsed the exterior panels of his Concord with plush seats and V-8 engine with buckets of water whenever he drove it in winter weather.

His care paid off: the wagon appeared solid and gleamed like a new car.