Monday, July 20, 2009

Bloomington Gold show teaches car owners tp 'think twice'

This 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ, owned by Mark Frieler of Oconomowoc, Wis., has a red velour interior.

Bloomington Gold show teaches car owners to 'think twice'
Source: By Larry Edsall / Special to The Detroit News

July 18, 2009

ST. CHARLES, Ill. -- They've already established the gold standard when it comes to collecting Chevrolet Corvettes, now the organizers of the famed Bloomington Gold Corvette show are spreading their passion for historically accurate vehicle preservation to all classic cars.

The 37th annual Bloomington Gold, America's Original Corvette Show, staged the last weekend in June at the Pheasant Run Resort here west of Chicago, concluded with the second annual Survivor Collector Car show.

The inaugural Survivor show was held last year, but the program was expanded this year to include several levels of awards designed to encourage vehicle owners to preserve rather than to restore their cars.

"We've tried to inspire and educate - Corvette owners in particular - to preserve or to restore to authentic condition," said Bloomington Gold founder and CEO David Burroughs.

To Burroughs, "authentic" means the way a vehicle left its assembly plant.

Thus Bloomington Gold, he said, wants collectors to "think twice before you 'fix' something," to realize that cars are like antique furniture, which is more valuable with its original patina and can have its value decreased through an over-zealous restoration process.

And, he added, as more and more classic cars are being restored, "what now unique is what's been unrestored."

This 1948 Packard Custom Deluxe 8 owned by Tony Ogarek of Frankfurt, Ill., has only 42,000 miles on its odometer and earned the highest ZZenith honors at the Survivor show.

To encourage preservation and the use of period-correct components when things finally do wear out, Bloomington Gold awards Survivor status to any vehicle at least 20 years old, that has successfully completed a road test, is at least 50-percent unrestored and has at least half of its finishes -- paint, fabrics, plating -- in good enough condition to serve as a model for the restoration of a similar vehicle so used that it really does need restoration.

Burroughs, a four-time national aerobatic flying champion, eight-time national formation flying champion and a former B-17 bomber pilot, said he worked closely with the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum in developing the Survivor certification guidelines and awards.

Those awards include Limited Survivor recognition for meeting the criteria above; Freeze Frame, for vehicles at least 30 years old with interior, exterior, underhood and chassis components at least 75-percent unrestored; and the top category: ZZenith, for vehicles at least 40 years of age, 90-percent unrestored in all four areas and yet "looking nearly new."

Thirteen cars earned Zzenith recognition at the show this year.

Cars offered for judging at the second annual Survivor show ranged from a 1930 Cord that shows 79 years of patina to a 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix with a red velour interior.

While most national auto shows stress gleaming chrome, fresh paint and restored or even over-restored interior and other details, Survivor cars are respected for being "worn in... but not worn out."

"These are artifacts of everyday life, social history on display" said Keith Martin, publisher of the Sports Car Market, a magazine that covers the entire spectrum of car collecting.

"These were everyday devices when they were bought, but they also were someone's dream. People were proud of these cars, and now each one of them is a time capsule."

Among the cars earning Zenith status was this 1962 Studebaker Lark owned by James Koenigsmark of Palos Park, III.

"Worn in... but not worn out" is the Survivor car theme, and this 1930 Auburn 8-95 Phaeton sedan shows the patina of a lot of wear after 79 years. The car is owned by Chuck and Sharon McCarthy of Barrington, Illinois.

This 1930 Auburn 8-95 Phaeton sedan is one of only six that survive from 552 that were produced. The McCarthys bought it four years ago from a neighbor who had owned the car since 1979. The neighbor bought the car from one of his boyhood friends after the car had been stored in a barn for 27 years. The neighbor drove the car for a few years, but then put it back into storage for three more decades.

"It's history, and it's not my place to change history," Auburn owner Chuck McCarthy said of preserving rather than restoring the car, which shows lots of patina after 79 years. The McCarthys' goal is to see the car celebrate its 100th anniversary.

After its appearance at the Survivor show, the Auburn is scheduled to get a convertible new top and to have windows made to fit its doors so it can be closed up to help preserve its interior.

This 1952 Nash Ambassador Custom 2-door accumulated all but 626 of its 20,415miles before 1962. The car, owned by Jerry Welden of Iowa Falls, Iowa, is believed to be the last remaining '52 Ambassador Custom 2-door.

Steve Perry's family (at right in photo) has become very understanding about being taken to car shows. Perry brought a 1956 Chevrolet convertible to the Survivor show from Bentonville, Ark. The car was built in Flint and was previously owned by a family in Armada, Mich., that never drove it further than 50 miles from home except for one trip into Canada. Perry's driving is restricted to local auto shows because the car still rides on its original tires.

Randy Olenz of Naperville, Ill., got his first 1957 Buick while in high school. This '57 Caballero Estate Wagon is his second station wagon and is one of only 46 such vehicles still on the road. Olenz has owned the wagon for 23 years and notes that the factory air conditioning still blows cold.

This 1958 Ford Skyliner was shown by Mike Marchese of North Aurora, Ill.

Todd Jodarski of Herbster, Wis., reports that his 27,581-mile 1961 Buick Invicta is so unrestored that he hasn't even fixed the dent in the driver's door.

The stereotypical little old lady traded in this 1963 Corvair Monza with only 15,000 miles on its odometer and the dealer put it into storage for two decades. Seven years ago, the dealer got tired of having to replace the battery and sold the car to Violet Johnson of Joliet, Ill. She entered the car in the Survivor show, where it was awarded ZZenith status.

Nick Januszcak of Hammond, Ind., owner of this 1964 Studebaker Avanti, shares the history of the brand with some Survivor show goers.

Michael Mitchell wanted to buy his wife, Teresa, a restored red Mustang but instead brought home this 1966 High Country Special Mustang coupe. Mitchell had first read of the High Country Special when he took a Mustang history book with him on a six-month U.S. Navy deployment. The High Country Special comprised 333 Timberline Green Mustangs sold only by Ford dealerships in Colorado. Mitchell bought the car from its long-time and 85-year-old owner.

This 1966 Chevrolet Nova, owned by Jim Nolan of Aurora, Ill., earned ZZenith honors at the Survivor show.

Among the most original of the cars at the Survivor show was this 1966 Volkswagen. The car originally was purchased by the VW dealer in Beverly, Mass., but he died after driving the car only 5826 miles. Since his wife did not drive, the car was stored for 20 years, until it was given to the couple's grandson, who sold it with only 6,600 miles on its odometer. The car now is owned by David Mars of Sioux City, Iowa.

A car can be both a survivor and a concours-quality machine. This 1968 Shelby GT500 KR, now owned by Dan Schmidt of Cleveland, was on the fairway at the Meadowbrook concours in 1983.

Years of exposure to the elements shows in the paint on the fender of this 1969 Pontiac TransAm, owned by Ken Kaufmann of LaCrosse, Wis.

Bill Sales of Plainfield, Ill., has owned this 1970 Stage 1 Buick GSX since 1975, though he kept the car in storage from 1976-2000.

Richard Torricelli drove his 1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo from Long Island, N.Y., to St. Charles, Ill., for the Survivor show.

Gordon Grassle of Manteno, Ill., brought this 1988 Pontiac Fiero to the Survivor show.

Dozens of cars at least 30 years old assembly on one of the fairways of the Pheasant Run Resort golf course west of Chicago for the second annual Survivor Collector Car show staged by Bloomington Gold, an organization that supports preservation of classic cars instead of restoring them to better-than-new condition.

Source: Detroit News