Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

World of WOW

Local gearheads kick off another season of showing and shining

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Bob Donnelly, left, with his 1949 Anglia. The car was restored by Dale Loewen, right, and the crew at SanDale Fabrication.

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Bob Donnelly, left, with his 1949 Anglia. The car was restored by Dale Loewen, right, and the crew at SanDale Fabrication.

If Bob Donnelly's 1949 Anglia could talk it would surely ask the question, "What took you guys so long?"

Donnelly's freshly built hot rod was one of the many vehicles with a great story to tell on display last weekend at Piston Ring's 40th annual World of Wheels car show.

"This car has been in our family since 1954," Donnelly said. "My uncle, Lazare, from St. Lazare, Manitoba, owned Fouillard Chevrolet, Olds, Pontiac back in the '50s and he took this car in on trade back in 1954. He kept it until 1958 before selling it to a local farmer and, in 1962, that same farmer needed two tractor tires but had no money so he traded the car back to my uncle."

The Anglia ultimately wound up in a field behind his uncle's house and remained there until 1990 when Donnelly, who had been bugging his uncle since he was about 12 years old to get the car, received a call from his cousin to come and get it before it was crushed.

"My nephew, Pat Donnelly, was eight at the time and came with me to pick up the car," Donnelly recalled. "He was here at the show with his two sons and he's 32 years old now."

Donnelly and his nephew towed the car home, where it sat behind his shop until 1997. Over the years, he worked on the car in his spare time, building a frame and collecting parts.

But the project really took off a couple of years ago when Dale Loewen and his capable crew from SanDale Fabrication near Grande Pointe began work on the total transformation of this car from an economy-minded four-cylinder grocery-getter into the totally radical custom "gasser" that drew crowds at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg all weekend long.

The puny 1.17-litre flathead engine is long gone, replaced with a 425-horsepower small-block Ford V-8 engine stroked to 347 cubic inches. In fact, other than the body, which has been painted Colorado Red, very little of the original car remains.

"We finished the car just in time for the show, and I just can't say enough about the fantastic job Dale and his crew at SanDale did," Donnelly said. "They were the best guys to work with. They totally listened to what I wanted and I couldn't be happier with the results."

While cars such as Donnelly's Anglia may represent the old-school style, staying fairly true in design to the classic drag-strip cruisers that were popular in the 1960s and '70s, a few new trends also emerged at this year's show.

Joe Perks of Dirtmafia Motorsports displayed his latest creation, a wild-looking 2002 Chevrolet Silverado that he has masterfully morphed into a pre-runner truck complete with a long-travel suspension, a boxed frame and fibreglass fenders and hood.

Pre-runner trucks take performance and styling cues from the trophy trucks raced in the desert while retaining the ability to be street-driven. If you ask me, the truck Perks built is the perfect answer to Winnipeg's pothole problem. Keep an eye out for more cool rides from Perks. His passion for these neat trucks is surely contagious.

Due to the construction currently taking place at the convention centre, floor space for the World of Wheels was a bit smaller than previous years. But show chairman Bob Chubala took it all in stride and reported that attendance was better than ever.

"We gotta get small to get big," said Chubala of the ongoing expansion of the convention centre and the bright future World of Wheels has when the work is completed.

"Looking forward, we're hoping to be the first event at the new convention centre in 2016 and expect to double the amount of vehicles on display."

While the weather may not be onside yet, there's no denying locals are poised for another great year of showing and shining, and we have Piston Ring's World of Wheels to thank for getting our motors running.

"It's a great hobby filled with great people, and I think we really hit a home run with our 40th anniversary show," Chubala said.

willy@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 20, 2014 F4

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