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Restoration or customization

Car show season gearing up

Car show season gearing up

April 08, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG - Asked what he thinks of classic cars that have been customized into hot rods, Sharpsburg-area resident Kenny Hughes says he doesn't care for them.

"Because the hot rods are hoodlums, right?" jokes his friend Larry Sulser, also of the Sharpsburg area.

"I just don't like butchering them up, I guess," Hughes responds.

"Bah humbug," replies Sulser and the car enthusiasts have a good laugh.

With car show season starting, there will be plenty of opportunities for Tri-State-area residents to check out classic cars, whether they've been restored to stock appearance or customized into a hot rod.

Which means there will be plenty of chances for car owners and aficionados to discuss and debate their feelings about the restoration of classic cars and whether they should be driven or towed to shows.

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Both Sulser, 56, and Hughes, 58, own 1963 Chevy Impalas. Sulser's family modified the Impala into a baby-blue hot rod with pink trim for Sulser's wife, Millie.

Sulser estimates the family's total investment in that car at $8,500 because his family did 90 percent of the labor, saving a lot of money.

Hughes estimates he's invested at least $46,000 in restoring his black Impala to its stock look, though some parts are reproduction pieces.

Morris "Tink" Shank, 50, of the Funkstown area, says he prefers classic restorations because it's "like maintaining a little piece of history."

Shank owns a 1969 Chevy Camaro, which like many cars in the Sixties has a body style unique from other years.

Shank says 1969 was the second year, after 1967, that Camaros were chosen to be the pace cars for the Indianapolis 500. Shank says his model, a rally sport/super sport, bears pace car accents. It's Dover white with broad hugger orange racing stripes. Shank says that it's believed that only about 300 '69 Indy-accented Camaros were made by Chevrolet.

"That's the kind of car that you probably wouldn't want to cut up and alter extremely," he says.

Donnie Yeakle, 71, who lives west of Clear Spring, says it takes more effort to restore a car because you have to find the correct parts.

It's usually easier to find parts to restore a Chevy or a Ford than, say, a Mercury convertible, of which Yeakle has three. Not as many Mercurys were built, so parts are rarer and harder to find than for Chevys and Fords, he says.

While Yeakle prefers classic restoration, he says street rods can be safer. Modern additions such as disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering and brighter headlights are more dependable than original, decades-old equipment.

Chuck Dodson, 67, of Fairplay, has 17 classic cars, only one of which is a hot rod.

His preference is stock restoration. Those original cars bring back memories.

"There's a certain romance with the old cars we had when we were 16 and older," Dodson says. "I'm partial to the Fifties cars," which remind him of his teenage years.

"When I was 16, the '55 Fords were coming out," Dodson says.

Even a hot rod can have sentimental historical ties. That Impala Sulser's family customized for his wife - that's the same model Sulser drove when he met his wife.

"I owned a '63 when I was 17. The first thing I did to it then, I went and bought a set of Keystone mags (shiny, five-spoke wheels)," Sulser says.

"I don't like stock," he says.

Regardless of how you restore the cars, Sulser says that what's most important is the fun you have with them.

Driving down the road, someone will take a picture of your car or give you a thumbs up, Sulser says.

"Somewhere in the United States, there's a picture of your car in their photo album," he says.




If you go ..

WHAT: Classic Car Group for Children Inc., a fundraising cruise-in open to all cars

WHEN:5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 14, is the group's first show of the season. Shows will be held the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, possibly into October.

WHERE: JCPenney parking lot at Valley Mall, Halfway

COST: A $2 donation for car owners. Spectators also are encouraged to make a donation, with proceeds going to Dream Come True. Last year the cruise-ins raised $8,000.

MORE: A donation of at least $2 gets a person five 50/50 raffle tickets.

For more information and to learn about other car shows in the Four-State area, go to http://carshowlink.com.

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