In case you missed it, cruising season officially kicked of last Sunday. The weather was great and the streets were filled with an amazing array of cool custom and special-interest vehicles.
In addition to the cavalcade of chrome that cruised down Portage Avenue, several hundred revellers also stopped by the Pony Corral on Grant Avenue to show off their prized rides.
One of the neatest elements of the first cruise night of the season is the opportunity to lay eyes on some of the latest vehicles resurrected throughout the winter months. Folks often ask why we have such a vibrant car culture here in Manitoba, and the long winters are surely part of the answer. While tucked away in their heated garages, local craftsmen create some of the finest custom vehicles you will ever lay eyes on.
Longtime Fabulous 50's Ford Club of Manitoba president Albert Lannoo and his wife Betty had their freshly restored 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente on display. According to Albert, the couple purchased this beauty on February, 10, 1967 from Dominion Motors for the tidy sum of $2,195. The couple received $595 for trading in their 1956 Mercury.
The classy little Comet served as the couple's daily driver until 1976, when it was replaced with a pickup truck and it was parked. Over the years, it was stored at a number of different locations, and in 1991 when Albert retired, he brought the car home and cleaned up the engine compartment and repainted the motor.
A few other projects got in the way, and the old Comet sat in the couple's garage until last fall when Albert finally decided to restore it to "better than new" condition.
The body work was done by the capable crew at Southside Auto Body, and Albert is quick to thank Tony Labossiere, Orval Talbot, Cory Zimmerman, Dave Anderson and Brian McGinity for the spectacular work they did on the car.
The car was reassembled, the seats were re-covered and the carpet was replaced just in time for Piston Ring's World of Wheels Car Show in late March. The car turned out "red-hot," and the Lannoos are thrilled to be cruising in their new/old Mercury for the first time in more than 35 years.
Lorne Anderson of éle-des-Ch�nes and his wife Donna also unveiled their stunning 1950 Mercury. Lorne, who owns and operates Ice Man Enterprises out of his thriving backyard workshop, estimates he has built nearly 30 custom rods over the years for his many loyal customers. This one, however, is all his.
The car was purchased in St. Paul, Minn. a number of years ago, but was only recently completed. It rolls on the chassis from a 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme; the cars were almost identical in width, and Anderson added an additional 11 inches to the length of the frame to accommodate the long and swoopy Mercury body.
The advantages of utilizing a modern chassis are not only evident in the car's smooth ride, but also adds independent front suspension and disc brakes. With the chassis decked out better-than-new, Anderson dropped the Mercury body on top, (way harder than it sounds).
Highlights on the cars custom body are numerous and include a 3.5-inch chopped top, rounded hood corners, front and rear roll pans, shaved door handles, a decked and shaved trunk lid, frenched headlights, taillights and rear licence plate, a 1954 Corvette grille, dummy spotlights, full cruiser skirts, and a fibreglass '49 Mercury dash.
Another eye-catching feature is the 1953 Buick portholes. The 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet engine is loaded with go-fast goodies, including a steel crank, aluminum rods and Keith Black pistons.
The engine was machined by Ken Murray and assembled at Joe's Machine Shop. It breathes through Hooker Headers and a custom dual exhaust that rumbles just enough to let folks know this hotrod is just as much about go as show. A General Motors 700R4 overdrive transmission complete with a shift kit was also rebuilt by GW Transmission.
Inside a custom interior was masterfully fabricated by Otto's Custom Upholstery, and the car features creature comforts that include air conditioning, power windows and a Pioneer sound system. The car rolls on steel wheels wrapped in Diamond Back wide-whitewall tires, a fresh set of rare 1956 Cadillac deep-dish hubcaps also add to the nostalgic appeal of this old-school cruiser loaded with new-school parts.
The paint was applied by Tommy Tutone out of Crookston, Minn.
Anderson's Ice Man business sells many of the parts utilized for this build and he jokes that more than a few of the parts were swiped from the walls of his showroom. Throughout the summer months, the Andersons cruise thousands of kilometres. The couple particularly enjoys rural show-and-shines such as the ones held in Beasejour, Gimli and Winnipeg Beach, and they also travel extensively to America for the annual Back to the 50's car show in Minnesota and to Good Guys runs throughout the Midwest.
Throughout the summer months, there are numerous events that cater to local car enthusiasts. For more information on what's happening this season, check out the events listings at the Manitoba Association of Auto Clubs (MAAC) website at www.maac.cc .