Center Line — In a shopping center parking lot filled with dozens of specialty cars and trucks from the 1950s on up, Richard Urban’s 1935 Buick stood out.
The Westland collector brought his wine-colored Buick Series 40 to the 8th annual Lions Club car show in Center Line on June 28. Converted to a street rod with a Chevy small-block V-8 and turbo 400 transmission, the Buick retains a number of its 80-year-old parts: a solid steel exterior, wooden door frames, the original suspension and the original heater.
“I bought it three years ago out of Ohio,” Urban said. “It had only been driven 25 miles in six years. I took it to a restoration shop and had them go over it from bumper to bumper.”
Now, he said, “I drive this car in the winter.”
Urban liked to point out that the covered spare tire on the rear is original to the Flint-built sedan, though he couldn’t use it in an emergency since it doesn’t match the other tires. The Buick came new with a flathead eight and a $900 price tag.
Perfect early-summer weather for the charity fundraiser drew appreciative spectators who examined the vehicles and chatted up any owners sitting near their toys.
Detroiter Willie Marassa made a special trip to Alabama to rescue his 1969 Ford pickup from slow death in a field.
The truck had been used by family to farm and then relegated to the back 40 for its eternal rest.
“It was ready for the junk pile,” Marassa said. “I towed it back up to Detroit — and that was 30 years ago — and am still working on it.” The Ford, with hand-painted cap for its bed, is powered by a 460-inch engine.
The Moores of Swartz Creek, Mich. said they’ve owned their 1977 Nova about eight years. Bob Moore made a number of changes to the special model with its factory luxury upgrades. When he bought it the Nova was silver with a red interior. He had a friend re-paint the coupe and Moore did some mechanical work. The Nova is powered by a new 353-inch engine. Its three-speed automatic transmission shift has been moved from the steering column to the floor.
Moore liked the history of the ’77 Nova. It was built at the Willow Run Plant in Ypsilanti and had spent most of its life in Idaho. He bought it from a dealer in Rigby, Idaho, figuring it would have escaped the corrosive salt so popular on winter roads in Michigan.
What Donald Storrs liked about the 1968 Thunderbird sedan was its rear-hinged rear doors – suicide doors. “I fell in love with that body style,” said the Eastpointe resident.
Storrs’ deep aqua Thunderbird with black vinyl roof is powered by a 429-inch Thunderjet engine with automatic transmission. The car originally was from Tennessee, he said.
Jim Hoover of Warren was like a new parent at the show. He had owned his “baby,” a glistening 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 with 5.0-liter 302 Mustang engine, for just 10 days.
The purchase, however, capped a 15-year search for such a car, Hoover said. There are 84,000 miles on the two-tone Starmist/Dresden blue coupe.
At least one visitor to the show suggested taking a look at the fire engine. Instead of a hulking conversion of a medium truck, the vehicle turned out to be Jon Murrell’s 1930 Ford pickup.
Murrell, of Berkley, was responsible for transforming his modest-size truck into a 1930s-style hook and ladder.
“This truck used to travel Arizona with shoes and boots for sale in the back,” he said. Morrell had seen another fire truck conversion and thought he could do better.
“I’ve enjoyed playing with it,” he said. “I’ve had it for 11 years – it’s a work in progress.”