'Cars R Stars' still get loyalty despite rain

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The 2014 Cars R Stars show here June 8 was a test of loyalty to the car collectors and enthusaists.

Exhibitors were asked to arrive at 8 a.m. Then came the rain — hours of it, off and on, postponing the 5th annual “Stars” until 1 p.m.

And there were plenty of no-shows, leaving gaps along the usually full vehicle displays ==  like lost teeth in the mouth of a grade-schooler.

“Actually, this has worked well,” said Debbie Hayes, who rested with a cup of chocolate ice cream behind the steering wheel of a perfect 1949 Buick station wagon owned by her employer Dick Kughn and his wife, Linda, of Dearborn, Mich.

“It seems like we have good examples of the best vehicles, in spite of many not coming,” said Hayes, who has worked for Kughn for 38 years, a period in which the collector has owned some 600 special vehicles.

Hayes’s other charge for the day was Kughn’s spotless midnight black 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible.

The designated stars of the 2014 gathering, antique and collectible commercial vehicles, were because of their size assigned to the “back 40” of the show area on land that once served as a Packard proving ground.

One of the most unusual sights at the edge of the trucks section was the aero-design 1938 International Harvester tow vehicle attached to an Aerocar travel trailer.

Owners Ken and Lana Hindley of Union, Ont., say the custom-built International initially was driven by a chauffeur. It could seat seven; the rear seat opened to a double bed, and the windows had pull-down blinds.

The travel trailer, a one-of-a-kind Detroit-built Aerocar from 1936, has no traditional chassis and is covered with fabric stretched over Masonite panels. The Hindleys say this 22-foot trailer was built for Canadian William Gray, whose father Robert Gray pioneered the production of Gray-Dort automobiles in Chatham, Ont.

Native Michiganders would undoubtedly recognize the colorful nostalgic Vernors truck. It was displayed by Canton, Mich. resident Ray Savage, who did the body and paint work. Savage relied on Ron Nevers to handle engine and transmission details. Savage apparently refers to the soda hauler as “Big Pearl.”

Janet Haering, who farms in Ortonville, Mich. and loves trucks, said she first offered the previous owner of her 1933 Diamond T Model 311 a couple of cows from the family herd in exchange for the then-rusted work truck.

“It had sat in his barn for years,” Haering said. “When I finally got it, it sat in mine for a while.”

Because the Model 311 was rare and possibly unique, it was difficult to plot its restoration. Haering eventually bought a Matchbox model that served as the template for the rebuilding of her ’33 Diamond T. The full-size T, with wooden cab and flooring, even mimics the bright-yellow with black trim of the toy truck.

Looking incredibly unsafe for vehicles in front of, beside or following it, a 1956 lumber truck with one-person cab was taking its leave of the 2014 show mid-afternoon. The truck, thought to be unique, belongs to Terry Upton of Rochester, Mich. DeKalb Body Works of Illinois created the vehicle on a Chevrolet chassis. A few wooden rails were all that could keep lumber from sliding in a sudden stop or from rolling off the sides on a sharp turn.

Upton said he doesn’t use the truck at his business, Dillman & Upton: “The steering wheel is too high and hard to turn.”

With the late official start of the show, visitors continued to arrive past official closing time. And the patient announcer continued to give away gift certificates to holders of lucky tickets.

Special awards for vehicles were made using wood salvaged from executive offices at the Packard headquarters on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit.