Who doesn’t like the chance to go and admire beautiful gleaming cars of all makes, models and ages? One great place is Orangeville’s “Blues Cruise” at their annual Blues and Jazz Festival. The whole of Broadway is closed off on a Friday night to make the space to display and admire those classic cars, to start the weekend off with the lively music scene!
The Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival is held in historic downtown Orangeville. Many, many acts are showcased on multiple stages and held over 3 days. Besides the very popular Blues Cruise, it features concerts, special events, crafts and a vast variety of food.
But what about the Blues Cruise itself? The cars are gorgeous to look at, but equally interesting are the stories and people behind them. They come from Caledon, Guelph, Shelburne, Brampton, Georgetown and Tottenham, and other points, to be there. The common bottom line is the obvious pride and joy people demonstrate in their vehicles.
The Stories Behind the Cars.
Everyone has a story to tell, and these are just a few samples.
Harald von Langsdorff of Caledon is the former President of the Mercedes Benz Club of America, Toronto Section. He was there showing off his 1972 Mercedes 350 SLC, complete with a plastering over of rally sponsor stickers. This is a rally car he actively drives with his navigator Steve McKelvie from Shelburne. They were leaving afterwards for 10 days’ driving in the annual Hemmings Motor News “Great Race”, a premier time/distance vintage-car rally. A different route every year, this time it was starting in Buffalo and ended after almost 3500 km in Halifax, with exact checkpoints which have to be observed. About 125 cars start this race, and only about 100 finish the grueling event. Another past completed rally, was the “Rally Round the Erie Canal” in New York State, and entrants’ spaces had been also sold out, all proof that classic cars can be used for more than just “show and shines”.
Beside him was a gorgeous 1937 Triumph Continental. I am used to seeing Triumphs as sports cars, but before WWII they were also producing luxury saloon cars. During that war, the original British factory was destroyed by a bomb making the company change direction. Only 26 were built of this Triumph model, and this particular car was the Triumph Company “show car” in 1937. Only one other remains on the road today. This one came to Canada in 1970, and was a “concours” car in the 1990’s. When the previous owner was no longer able to enjoy it, Ralph and Kimberly Evans of Shelburne bought it a few years ago. Ralph rebuilt and painted the car himself, as it had sat outside for a number of years before he got it. A feature of this car is the tool kit built into its “boot” (trunk) lid, which has been refurbished using period tools.
Ron Bimm of Tottenham, stood beaming beside his 1958 Edsel. He bought it over twenty years ago, and it is actually in its full unrestored condition. The car was originally bought new in Oklahoma. The previous owner was in Milverton, Ontario, and romantically bought it from its American owner because it was the exact same model he and his wife had honeymooned in!
An eye catcher on the north side of Broadway was a “hillbilly” truck, complete with its still! Grant Conley of Caledon started with the idea of a “rat rod” (a custom car that exaggerates the hot rods of the 40’s to early 60’s) for this 1952 Mercury truck, bought in Alton as a Christmas gift. But then his imagination took over! Deciding to “make it his own”, he got the still first in a flower shop of all places. After that, he has continually found “treasures” to augment and embellish the theme. “Popcorn Sutter” who provides the “moonshiner” theme of the truck and inspiration, was a notorious moonshine maker in the USA. The truck comes complete with a seat welded on to the back, where a hitch should be, to sit and enjoy “the product”!
Speaking of “rat rods”, Terry Jesse and his son Mike from Mono were displaying two vehicles in bright colours which they had modified as “street rods” (cars made before or after 1968 with manufactured parts to make it look older). One was a 1932 Chevrolet four door, which they had made into a two door. They also took seven inches out of the body to make it lower. Then they made the fenders wider. Mike does the heavy work and the job took them two years. On the other hand, a hydraulic hood now graced a 1950 Mercury truck, whose box also opens hydraulically and whose dimensions had been suitably altered as well.
At the other end of the spectrum, adding tone to the show was Tim Orr’s 1940 Packard Model 120. Originally this vehicle had been owned by a retired judge from Brampton. Tim, from Caledon, had owned this car 17 years. Bought in pieces, he restored it himself. The whole effort took at least five years, and it took two years alone to collect the necessary parts! A family project, when his children were young, they would then go and do the car shows together as a family.
Richard Simpson brought a 1939 Ford Standard Sedan (he points out it is not the “deluxe” model). He purchased it last August in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but it needed repairs, and he spent all of one winter restoring it. He also admitted there are “power add ons” to the car.
Early on the scale of car model age, a replica 1929 Ford Model A was bought “as is” in good shape in Texas around a few years ago. About five thousand of these cars were actually produced as a copy in 1980 under license to Ford, said owner David Boyce of Mono, by the Shay Motors Corporation in Battle Creek, Michigan. He added it had been “well taken care of” and brings a lot of memories to people. He drives it just for the fun of it and as a conversation piece! The proof was in the pudding, as this car won the “People’s Choice Award” at the Blues and Jazz Festival one year.
Whatever the make, model or year, you can tell the owners just have a lot fun with their cars, often adding accessories from “Happy Days” type burger trays suspended from the windows, to period dress, and hippy vintage boom boxes and surfboards piled onto the roof rack. And they are more than happy to tell you their story, if you ask!
Written By: Diana Janosik-Wronski | Photography: Cory Bruyea