In 1995, a group of dedicated classic car enthusiasts from the Orangeville area sat down and laid out plans to form the Road Hazards Car Club, to celebrate and showcase the many classic and heritage autos that exist throughout Dufferin County. And from that small but dedicated group, has sprang a membership of more than 100 classic car buffs who meet up during the summer months for “cruise nights” each Wednesday evening at the Orangeville Canadian Tire.
David Murphy, a dedicated enthusiast who currently runs and operates the cruise nights, had been attending the cruise nights with his father since he was a young boy. About 4 years ago he had caught wind that the cruise nights might be fading into the sunset, so with help from McMaster Buick GMC as prime sponsor, David was able to re-ignite the cruise night magic! As David puts it, “I simply couldn’t bare to think of the show going away, as it’s such a large part of the community and for those who love their classic cars!”
Orangeville and area has a very large classic car community. In fact, many have more than one car in their collection, with a growing trend of women enthusiasts, owning and participating. Most of the classic car lovers care for and maintain their cars on their own, many treating them like their “babies”.
The classic car community is a very friendly and charismatic one, especially when it comes to speaking about their cars. The Wednesday cruise nights make for a great evening out for families, as the kids (both young and old) are invited to speak with the owners and get an up-close look at some of the beautiful machinery on display. Many visitors to the cruise nights come from outside the Orangeville area, and everyone will enjoy the ice cream truck and food vendors, along with the cars!
In addition to organizing the Wednesday night cruise nights, David also runs the Blues Cruise on Broadway (a premier event and fun night during the Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival), as well as the classic car displays during the Rotary RibFest, and the Orangeville Agricultural Fall Fair.
And if that wasn’t enough, David has also recently organized a youth pilot program in cooperation and sponsorship with Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. At a chosen classic car event, the kids are given a kit consisting of a hat, t-shirt, clipboard, and forms, and are mentored in the skills of judging and rating a pre-picked group of cars. This program has been getting bigger each year, and is a great way to ensure the legacy of appreciation for the classic car lifestyle will continue.
The Orangeville Car Show season runs from June to the end of September. New last year to the Wednesday night cruise nights was the addition of some decade “theme” nights, with selected nights dedicated to certain decades, builders, Canada 150, etc. David plans to grow the theme nights even more into the 2018 season.
While the cruise nights and special events have so much to offer, you don’t even have to be a car person to enjoy the shows and events. Even the people you meet can be just as different and “classic”, which is where we introduce you to Sammy. Sammy, born in 1931, has lived in Orangeville all his life, growing up in a red brick house on west Broadway beside now what is the 7-11.
Sammy’s father died in an accident in 1936, so that left young Sammy, his brother, and 3 sisters under mom’s care. To help with money, Sammy started working after school at a small auto garage and then full-time at the local Chevy dealership, where it became clear that the love of the automobile was deep into Sammy’s blood.
Fast forward through a lifetime of cars and car stories to 1994, when Sammy retired from Chrysler right here in town. After “official” retirement, he continued to drive cars for them on a part-time basis, finally retiring altogether just a few years ago.
He’s quick to point out that he considers himself both a GM and Chrysler “guy”. However, his 2 current classic loves come from the Chrysler family; a 1950 Imperial, and a 1982 Cordoba. Sammy purchased the Cordoba from new, and came to own the Imperial 10 years ago at an auction. Sammy tells us, “It was a California car and was in “like-new” condition, even with low mileage for such an old car.” Heading out in the Imperial for a summer Sunday morning drive, Sammy says (with a wry grin and twinkle in his eye), “I love that car, I feel like I’m 25 years old when I drive it!”
He loves the way classic cars were so well built. “They don’t make them like that anymore” says Sammy, “cars are too complicated today, too much technology and electronics. And each car had its’ own look, they all had an elegance about them.” Sammy is proud of the fact that he still does all his own oil changes, and still works on his cars in the garage right next to his house.
You can usually find Sammy every other Wednesday at the cruise night, and he’s always happy to talk about anything, classic car related or not. And David loves having Sammy at the shows. “Any questions you may have about old Chryslers or GM’s” says David, “or anything about the history of cars in Orangeville, and Sammy knows it!”
“It’s incredible to see how many folks
now show up at these growing
Wednesday night cruises” says David,
“with people coming in from all over.”
People in Dufferin County, Wellington County and in the surrounding rural areas tend to keep good care not only of their tractors and machinery, but they care and love their old cars too, taking pride in keeping them going, and keeping them looking like new.”
Now we can’t wait until Spring, for the classic car season to begin!
written by: Kelli M. Maddocks | Photography: Cory Bruyea and www.orangevillecruisenight.com