Rolling Sculpture shows amazing auto collections

ANN ARBOR, MICH. — The annual July street show Rolling Sculpture is a fitting prelude to this town’s renowned Ann Arbor Art Fair, which launches the following weekend.

Rolling Sculpture somehow attracts an amazing collection of vehicles, from the very unusual to favorite sports cars and mid-20th-century chrome icons.

When is the last time show goers were treated to vehicles like a 1964 VW Double Cab pickup, or an AC Ace Briston from 1958, or the 1961 Oldsmobile convertible said to have been created for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy?

In many instances, owners were seated near their cars and were happy to chat and answer questions.

A visitor measuring 6′ 8″ asked Steven White if he could sit behind the wheel of White’s block-long 1968 Chrysler Crown Imperial. The gentleman folded himself and squeezed in — it wasn’t a good fit, although White said the driver’s seat could be extended.

But this subdued Imperial was a bit hit with Rolling Sculpture passersby, many of whom chuckled at the red, white and blue Nixon/Agnew campaign sign posted in the car’s rear window. White, of Ann Arbor, said the luxury car has only 27,000 miles on it. The green leather interior was original, he added.

With a 440-inch four-barrel powerplant under its hood, the Crown Imperial gets about 18 miles per gallon on the highway, White said. The car cost $7,600 new back in 1968.

Pete Blaine didn’t appear to be at his “barn fresh” 1964 VW Beetle, but his sign explained he had found the car in Georgia in 2007, sitting on its rims in a barn. Blaine said he cleaned the fuel system, dropped a new battery under the rear seat, put on new tires and fired up the bug.

While he claimed beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, he also sought counsel of visitors: “I have not decided if I should restore the car or make a Rat Rod out of it. . .what do you think?”

Beauty in the eyes. The 1958 John Deere 520 Tractor parked on Main Street would be most beautiful to anyone seriously working the land. There was no owner information posted on the farm vehicle, which was priced at $2,972 new.

Artist Steven Brown of Auburn Hills was seated in the street doing a perfect sketch of Gregg and Katie Elliott’s 1967 Mustang GTA. Brown said it takes him about 90 minutes to complete a drawing. He charges $60 for a black-and-white, $100 for color. Brown said he has been drawing cars since childhood — very likely on his school notebook instead of copying the day’s spelling words.

A 2002 Pontiac Aztek stood out because it’s an Aztek and because owner Robert Harter of Dexter, Mich. has adorned its sides with mega-pixel artwork. Harter said he bought the crossover last year. It’s leather interior is new as are heated front seats with heated backs. He claimed he gets 29 miles per gallon when driving 70 miles per hour.

The leather-like roof covering on Chuck Hescheles’ 1930 Ford Model A Victoria looked aftermarket; the Ann Arbor resident said no, the tan top was part of the Victoria model. So were the bright-green wheels and matching pin stripe and the large front sunvisors. The two rear-seat bud vases, he said, were accessories added later.

According to information beside a 1964 Volkswagen Double Cab pickup, VW pickups were being converted by specialists into four-door, two-bench-seat trucks primarily for trades people. Six years after the introduction of the single-seat pickup, VW began building double cabs at its Hanover (Germany) plant, said to Double Cab owner Ken Adams.

Adams’ truck is powered by a 50-horsepower four with four-speed manual transmission. Its payload was rated at one ton and it has a top cruising speed of 65 miles per hour. Its factory-installed options included a tarp with tie-downs, a cab step, mud flaps and seat belts.