Tarheels Tigers celebrate Pontiacs, Buicks and Caddies

CARY, N.C. — The Tarheels Tigers Pontiac Club gathered the troops at a small shopping center here the first weekend in June to celebrate Pontiacs, Buicks and Cadillacs for a fund raiser and a chance to talk cars.

There were a couple of Oldsmobiles among the 40-plus vehicles, but Chevy owners had not been included on the invitation list.

An announcer encouraged owners and guests to buy raffle tickets, and a few grills were fired up and sending off smoke from bratwursts well before noon. The June sun likely could have done the job all alone as it beat down on the blacktop parking area where Paul McGlohon was polishing his 1953 Buick Special.

Pointing out the “I Like Ike” sticker on a rear window, McGlohon said, “It makes the car.”

The Greenville, N.C. resident said he spent about a year and a half working on the Special. He rebuilt the straight eight motor with Dynaflow transmssion and re-upholstered the seats.

“When I bought it eight years ago, the car was white,” McGlohon said. “My wife didn’t like the color, so we painted it blue and kept the top white.”

McGlohon indicated he would like to sell the Special and get on with another project. There’s not much interest in a family sedan with no particular pedigree, he lamented.

Heads and hearts are more likely to turn for a car like Carl Patula’s 1969 Hurst Olds 442. According to an invoice on display, the Hurst upgrade MSRP was $683.94 and included an engine fresh air package, twin-inlet hood scoop, dual outside racing mirrors, rear deck air spoiler, pin striping, Hurst Gold and cameo white paint, custom emblems, a Hurst Dual/Gate shifter and gold-trimmed head restraints. Hurst Performance Inc. was located on Northend in Ferndale, Mich.

The sleek and stylish 1961 Buick Invicta brought to the Cary show by Bruce and Lisa Denkins of Goldston, N.C. featured an adjustable speedometer display designed so smaller drivers – women – could rotate it in order to see the numbers. It also had a warning that would alert the driver who was driving faster than its pre-set speed.

Bruck Denkins said he bought the sport coupe three years ago. It already was in good condition. To make it more distinctive, Denkins added 18-inch chromed wheels. The car, he said, had been painted in 2003 using the Mercedes color brilliant silver.

“This car has a special bubbletop rear window that extends over the rear seat area,” he said. “Buick built 6,382 bubbletops.

“The engine is a 401 ‘nailhead’ with 95,000 miles on it,” Denkins added.

In a distant corner of the Tarheels Tigers Pontiac show three glamorous Solstices sunned themselves. Dee Sherrow of Cary, N.C. had opened the hood of her wicked ruby metallic 2009 Solstice GXP Coupe to show its mighty 290-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four. She also removed the roof panel and flipped up the rear window so visitors to could admire the stunning two-seater.

Hal Routh of Lexington, N.C. brought his 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix to the Cary show and proudly told visitors that he has owned the car, now wearing 141,000 miles, since buying it new some 40 years ago.

“It’s such a good driver it probably saved my life years ago when I was making long commutes on not much sleep,” said Routh, who said he believes this Grand Prix’s hood is surpassed in length only by that of a Duesenberg.

Routh gave a nod of appreciation to the 1955 Pontiac two-door Safari wagon parked beside his Grand Prix. The unrestored six-passenger family car is owned by Jonathan Lamb of Apex, N.C. Across the way a like-new 1963 Pontiac Catalina Safari wagon owned by Ken Nagy of Wake Forest, N.C. showed how great a 50-year-old car can look.

The oldest Tarheels club car at Cary was Rick Gossin’s deep-blue 1940 Buick Eight Special. Gossin, of Morrisville, N.C., was telling visitors that an earlier owner of the Buick was shot at while driving it. Gossin said he is the seventh to have title to the coupe with 248-inch eight and three-speed manual. The car, built in Flint, Mich., retailed new for $895.