2017-06-22 / Front Page

Turquoise Impala Claims Top Prize

Classic Cars Impress Spectators, Judges in Antiques on the Bay at St. Ignace
By Erich T. Doerr


Bellaire resident Dave Fischbach won the Antiques on the Best of Show prize and the accompanying two-night stay at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel for this beautiful Tasco Turquoise 1960 Chevrolet Impala that was one of his three entrants Saturday, June 17. This car is one of just 47 Impalas Chevrolet made over a three-year period that was equipped with a Continental Kit option that added a longer bumper and visible spare tire to the back of the car. Mr. Fischbach completed the restoration of this car last year. Bellaire resident Dave Fischbach won the Antiques on the Best of Show prize and the accompanying two-night stay at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel for this beautiful Tasco Turquoise 1960 Chevrolet Impala that was one of his three entrants Saturday, June 17. This car is one of just 47 Impalas Chevrolet made over a three-year period that was equipped with a Continental Kit option that added a longer bumper and visible spare tire to the back of the car. Mr. Fischbach completed the restoration of this car last year. There was 72 years worth of automotive development on display at the St. Ignace Marina Saturday, June 17, as the city hosted its 21st annual Antiques on the Bay classic car show.

Festivities included about 40 cars from all across the classic car spectrum competing for the grand prize of a two-night stay at Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel. The top prize went to Dave Fischbach of Bellaire for his immaculate Tasco Turquoise 1960 Chevrolet Impala equipped with the rare Continental Kit.


Trout Lake resident Pete Schwesinger has been a regular at St. Ignace car shows for years with his collection of popular Mopar muscle cars. This year’s Antiques on the Bay classic car show Saturday, June 17, at the St. Ignace Marina saw him enter this Plum Crazy Purple 1970 Dodge Charger R/T. He bought the 440 Six Pack equipped Charger in 1982, restored it, and has owned it ever since. Plum Crazy Purple was one of several High Impact Paint colors Chrysler offered in the early 1970s, with their popularity leading to several revivals of the unique hue over the years. Trout Lake resident Pete Schwesinger has been a regular at St. Ignace car shows for years with his collection of popular Mopar muscle cars. This year’s Antiques on the Bay classic car show Saturday, June 17, at the St. Ignace Marina saw him enter this Plum Crazy Purple 1970 Dodge Charger R/T. He bought the 440 Six Pack equipped Charger in 1982, restored it, and has owned it ever since. Plum Crazy Purple was one of several High Impact Paint colors Chrysler offered in the early 1970s, with their popularity leading to several revivals of the unique hue over the years. Mr. Fischbach displayed three cars Saturday, with his winning Impala joined by a black 1966 Impala Super Sport (SS) that was one of just about 140 ever made. He also had a customized black 1976 Ford F-100 pickup truck equipped with the famous 428 Cobra Jet engine.


St. Ignace’s own Glenn and Nevin Harmison were among the local entrants in the Antiques on the Bay show Saturday, June 17, at the city marina. The couple displayed this Pinecrest Green and Ivory two-tone 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, which they have owned for the last 18 months. Chevrolet tweaked the 1956 Bel Air to differ it from the earlier 1955 model by adding a new grill and different trim while maintaining the earlier car’s famous tailfins. The 1955 Chevrolet belonging to car show founder Ed Reavie was parked behind the Harmisons’ car Saturday, allowing for a direct visual comparison between the two model years. St. Ignace’s own Glenn and Nevin Harmison were among the local entrants in the Antiques on the Bay show Saturday, June 17, at the city marina. The couple displayed this Pinecrest Green and Ivory two-tone 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air, which they have owned for the last 18 months. Chevrolet tweaked the 1956 Bel Air to differ it from the earlier 1955 model by adding a new grill and different trim while maintaining the earlier car’s famous tailfins. The 1955 Chevrolet belonging to car show founder Ed Reavie was parked behind the Harmisons’ car Saturday, allowing for a direct visual comparison between the two model years. Mr. Fischbach has owned his 1960 Impala since 2014 and completed a full restoration of the car last year. He enjoys seeking out rare cars and this one fits the bill: it is one of just 47 Impalas General Motors (GM) built across a three-year period with the Continental Kit option.


Kirk Brandt of Auburn won the Best of Show featured car award at the 2017 Antiques on the Bay for his Grenadier Red 1964 Pontiac Catalina convertible equipped with a high output 421 cubic inch V8 engine and wheel skirts. This is the only car Pontiac ever built with those specifications. Mr. Brandt’s father, the late Norman Brandt, ordered the car as a one-off with the goal of creating a sleeper vehicle that was much faster than it looked. Mr. Brandt bought it from his father 25 years later and has owned it ever since, so the car has always been with the family. Kirk Brandt of Auburn won the Best of Show featured car award at the 2017 Antiques on the Bay for his Grenadier Red 1964 Pontiac Catalina convertible equipped with a high output 421 cubic inch V8 engine and wheel skirts. This is the only car Pontiac ever built with those specifications. Mr. Brandt’s father, the late Norman Brandt, ordered the car as a one-off with the goal of creating a sleeper vehicle that was much faster than it looked. Mr. Brandt bought it from his father 25 years later and has owned it ever since, so the car has always been with the family. The kit added a longer rear bumper with a decorative exterior spare tire to the car, but was not popular with most Impala buyers because it cost an extra $700 at the time. By comparison, Mr. Fischbach noted the cost of an Impala itself in that era was only $1,600. Today, having the kit can add up to $15,000 to a car’s value.


Cedarville resident Jim Keighley again entered his stylish dark blue 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible in Antiques on the Bay. Here Mr. Keighley shows off the car’s rear-mounted 1584 CC, 50-horsepoewer aircooled engine. The Volkswagen was the only non-American car entered in Saturday’s car show. Cedarville resident Jim Keighley again entered his stylish dark blue 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible in Antiques on the Bay. Here Mr. Keighley shows off the car’s rear-mounted 1584 CC, 50-horsepoewer aircooled engine. The Volkswagen was the only non-American car entered in Saturday’s car show. This car spent much of its life in Florida before being brought to Michigan in 1990. A friend, who since has died, sold it to Mr. Fischbach.

The Impala first was restored in 1988 and he refreshed it last year. Mr. Fischbach said the car is great to drive. It was displayed in last year’s main St. Ignace Car Show, where it won the Concourse d’Elegance prize.

The grand prize trip for Mr. Fischbach comes after his 2017 got off to a rough start. In February, his beloved customized 1960 Chevrolet Corvette was destroyed when the vehicle was stolen along with the truck, trailer, and a custom Jeep while en route to Detroit for a display at the famous Autorama car show.


At left: Mike Heins of Cadillac had the oldest car in the Saturday, June 17, Antiques on the Bay car show in St. Ignace with his bright yellow 1912 Ford Model T Speedster. The 105- year-old vehicle was likely built in the late 1910s or early 1920s. Its construction involved taking a standard Brass Era Model T and customizing it with an aftermarket body. Mr. Heins bought this car 25 years ago and restored it. At left: Mike Heins of Cadillac had the oldest car in the Saturday, June 17, Antiques on the Bay car show in St. Ignace with his bright yellow 1912 Ford Model T Speedster. The 105- year-old vehicle was likely built in the late 1910s or early 1920s. Its construction involved taking a standard Brass Era Model T and customizing it with an aftermarket body. Mr. Heins bought this car 25 years ago and restored it. The car’s theft made headlines nationwide and continued to do so when the vehicle was found in ruins, having been stripped, cut into pieces, and burned. The car was previously entered in St. Ignace shows and profiled by The St. Ignace News in 2014. The truck and trailer also were incinerated, but the Jeep was recovered.

Following his loss, Mr. Fischbach said, there was an outpouring of support for him and his shop. Sympathetic callers ranged from Autorama staff to St. Ignace Car Show Founder Ed Reavie. One of the most touching tributes came from a small child Mr. Fischbach had never met, who saw a news story about it and drew him a picture of the car to try and cheer him up.

Mr. Fischbach told The St. Ignace News he won’t let the Corvette’s destruction ruin the hobby for him and plans to continue showing his cars. He’s been a staple of car shows in St. Ignace for the last two decades.

Mr. Fischbach has owned his 1966 Impala since 1987 and restored it himself. He often races the car. Its appearance in St. Ignace will mark the first time in a while it simply will be on a leisurely display. He purchased the F-100 in St. Ignace 15 years ago from a friend. The truck originated in Texas and already had received its Cobra Jet engine before it made its way north.

The number of cars in this year’s Antiques show was down by about one third from 2016. An early rainstorm may have been a factor, but what it lacked in quantity was more than made up in quality and variety. The weather quickly cleared and a mix of sun and clouds prevailed.

The show featured everything from vintage pre-World War II vehicles to muscle cars, luxury cruisers, and even a few old pickup trucks. The field included classic vehicles from brands of today -like Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, and Volkswagen and badges of the past such as Mercury, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, and Pontiac.

Gary Engle of G-Man Entertainment provided the event’s soundtrack with a lot of classic rock tunes playing on the speakers to add to the vintage feel of the festivities. Many of the show cars were paraded across the Mackinac Bridge and through downtown Friday afternoon, June 16, in lead-up to the show.

John Miller was one of many St. Ignace residents who came to look over all the cars in Saturday’s show. He rode a recumbent bike through the show area.

“I like (these cars),” Mr. Miller said, noting he attends the show every year.

There were several classic Impalas in Saturday’s show, with Mr. Fischbach’s pair joined by the Roman Red 1962 Impala SS owned by Gordon Rodenborg of Kawkawlin. The car was equipped with a 409 V8 engine. Mr. Rodenborg plans to enter the car in both of St. Ignace’s car shows. The car is a two-door hardtop, but General Motors designed its roof in a style to cosmetically resemble that of a convertible.

“I love the body style and the ride,” Mr. Rodenborg said. “There isn’t a new car made that rides like this.”

Mr. Rodenborg’s first car was a 1958 Chevrolet and he sought out an Impala later, noting he likes the styling and that this was one of the coolest new cars out there at the time when he got his driver’s license. Through the years he has owned six Impalas, including this one.

Mr. Rodenborg has owned this SS for 17 years, having purchased it in Lebanon, Missouri. The car didn’t run when he got it, but that wasn’t an issue because he already had the 380-horsepower 409 engine ready to install in it. He said the car drives well, although it is rough when idling. This is his first time showing his car in St. Ignace in two years.

Auburn resident Kirk Brandt won the Best of Show featured car award Saturday for his Grenadier Red 1964 Pontiac Catalina convertible equipped with the high output 421 cubic inch V8 engine. The car is only one ever built by Pontiac with this combination of options, and it’s family heirloom. Mr. Brandt’s late father, Norman, specifically ordered it with the unusual combination of the big engine and the mid-size convertible in his quest to deliberately create a “sleeper,” a car that is much faster than it looks.

Mr. Brandt noted his father was a little annoyed Pontiac fitted the standard, but large, 421 badges on the side of the car to reveal its contents. Other unique features include factory spotlights and rare wheel skirts only included on early Catalinas during that model year.

The Brandt family always has owned this Pontiac. Mr. Brandt bought it from his father after his dad had kept it for 25 years. The car is original except for having been repainted once in 1996. The car will be at both St. Ignace shows this year.

“When I was a child, we called it the Five-Dollar Car,” Mr. Brandt said. “I’d put $5 on the dash. If you could grab it before I got to fourth gear you could have it. I can’t remember ever paying that out.”

Holland’s Brian Martinie also displayed a red Pontiac Catalina representing a later 1968 model. Pontiac made a number of very similar cars that year. The Catalina was designed to serve as the company’s base model, although many options were offered to class it up. The car came from the factory with air conditioning, Rally II wheels, a vinyl top, and a rear window defroster. The red four-door features a 400- cubic-inch V8 engine.

Mr. Martinie has been attending car shows in St. Ignace for several years, usually displaying his 1981 Chevrolet Corvette. He has owned his car for three years. It is original except for a few upgrades he has made, including more chrome parts in the engine and a functioning eight-track player. The car spent most of 33 years in a garage in Holland before he bought it. It was never driven from 1993 to 2014. Today he drives the car somewhat regularly after rebuilding its engine.

“It was a treasure chest waiting to be opened,” Mr. Martinie said. “The ride is incredibly smooth.”

There were a goodly number of local entrants in this year’s Antiques show, including St. Ignace’s own Glenn and Nevin Harmison, who displayed a classic Pinecrest green-and-ivory two-tone 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. Their car was fitted with a small-block V8, overdrive, power steering, and fender skirts.

The Harmisons enter the car show every year, usually with their 1928 Chrysler. They left the Chrysler, an open car, at home this year owing to the early weather issues. The couple will bring their 1968 Corvette to this week’s show. The Harmisons have been a part of the St. Ignace shows almost since their very beginning, first entering a car in 1978.

The 1956 Bel Air is unique and is often overshadowed by both the 1955 models that preceded it and the famous “57 Chevy” models that succeeded it in the collector car world, yet it still has its fans. The 1956 Chevrolet was longer than the 1955 models and featured new taillights, grills, and slightly different trim while maintaining the earlier car’s famous tail fins. The interior color of their car matches the exterior. A prior owner restored this car.

“I love the classic mid-1950s look,” Mr. Harmison said. “I rode to school in a car like this a buddy owned.”

The Harmisons have owned their Bel Air for about 18 months. They purchased it in Indianapolis, where they had gone to look at another car before finding it had been sold before they arrived. After they saw the Chevrolet, however, they decided to buy it because Mrs. Harmison loved the unique color.

Another Eastern Upper Peninsula entrant was Trout Lake’s Pete Schwesinger with his Plum Crazy Purple 1970 Dodge Charger R/T. The 440 Six-Pack-equipped car was the highest-performance model Dodge made from one of the Charger’s most-famous model years. He has owned this car since 1982, when he bought it for $3,000 in Cheboygan. The famous shade of purple was one of several high-impact paint colors available from Chrysler in the early 1970s.

Mr. Schwesinger restored and repainted this car after he purchased it. It took about a year to track down all the required parts and another six months to put it all together. Options fitted to this car include power windows and a pistol grip shifter. The Charger was his daily driver in the ‘80s, except in the winter. It now is used mainly as a display piece.

The car sat in his garage for a decade before he rebuilt the motor and turned it into a show car in the 2000s. He doesn’t drive this car hard anymore, but when he did, it would top out at about 100 miles per hour. The key to the Charger’s image was just how fast it got to that figure.

“I love the acceleration of this car,” Mr. Schwesinger said. “It will really go. (The acceleration) will pin you to the seat.”

Mr. Schwesinger has loved Chargers since he was a child. In his early years, one Trout Lake resident had a red-and-black one and the monster muscle car made quite an impact on him. When he finally bought his own, he almost painted it red before a friend talked him into keeping the factory’s famous purple hue.

Today, he owns six classic Mopars, including five period muscle cars. His cars have been a staple at St. Ignace car shows for years. One of his Chargers, a 1969 model, won the antiques show’s top prize in 2013.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has never been as big a spot for car manufacturing as the Lower Peninsula but there was one car with a background in the area at Saturday’s show: Linwood resident William Harper’s classic woodsided 1949 Mercury wagon. The main car portion of the woodie was built in St. Louis, Missouri, and then it was shipped north to Iron Mountain to receive its wooden side panels. Mr. Harper’s example is very well preserved, with all but five pieces of the wood original to the car.

“Everyone wants a woodie because they are such unique cars,” Mr. Harper said.

The 1949 model year was the first that Ford used a wood over metal construction style for its woodie models and the first year it had a two-door wagon option. The company sold more than 31,000 woodie Fords that year, but only 8,040 of its Mercury sibling.

Because their wooden sides often rotted away, woodie models do not have a good survival rate and that makes Mr. Harper’s royal bronze maroon model a true rarity in today’s world. He has been attending St. Ignace’s car shows since 1990, staying at the same hotel with the same group of friends. He plans to enter both car shows this year.

Mr. Harper has owned his woodie wagon for 23 years. The car dodged pitfalls that did in many other woodies because it was a camp car at a resort in southern California. When the resort failed, it sat secluded in storage for years, preserving the wood. Mr. Harper found the car through an advertisement in the Detroit News, called the owner at 7 a.m. immediately after he first read it, then raced out with a mechanic friend to buy it quickly before anyone else could.

Since Mr. Harper acquired the car, he has fitted it with new tires and exhausts, in addition to mechanical work he performed. The car was fitted with the rare overdrive option and Mr. Harper has restored it to working order. The car is displayed with a vintage Michigan commercial vehicle license plate. While he trailered it to St. Ignace, he loves driving it when he gets the chance.

“I had an overdrive car in high school, so this brings me back,” Mr. Harper said.

The beautifully restored and maintained models that made up most of this year’s entrants were countered by Brooklyn resident John Hutchins’s rusty 1950 Ford F- 1 pickup truck. The battered body and worn-out paint are exactly the way the truck was when he acquired it. He bought the truck from a family friend five years ago after it sat abandoned in a barn for the quarter century. The friend offered the truck exclusively to his family because he knew they collected old Ford trucks. Today, the 1950 truck is the oldest in original condition they have. The family has restored two other pickups.

Mr. Hutchins’ F-1 left the factory painted green, but was repainted red, then blue. All of the paint is wearing out in places now. The red layer shows some lettering from a business that once used the pickup. Mr. Hutchins looks forward to more of the paint flaking off so he’ll finally be able to learn what that business was.

After he acquired the truck he replaced the brakes and the driveline. The tires are also new, made using an Army design. The truck has gearing designed for rural use, making it popular with farmers of the day. The pickup tops out at about 45 miles per hour.

“It’s fun to drive,” Mr. Hutchins said. “People look at you either amazed its still going or wondering if it is about to break down.”

The Ford F-1 was a historic model as it was the first new pickup to hit the market after World War II. It was built with a bigger and more rugged style than its contemporaries, lacking the car chassis of its competitors. It was also the genesis point for Fo- MoCo’s famous F-Series line of pickups that today are the best selling vehicles in the United States.

The early F-Series trucks were among the last vehicles Ford ever sold with its original flathead 239 V8 engines. Mr. Hutchins’s rusty truck proved an award-winning entry Saturday, many participants telling him about relatives who owned similar trucks over the years.

Cadillac resident Mike Heins had the oldest car in Saturday’s show, a bright-yellow 1912 Ford Model T Speedster. The car was the result of rebuilding a standard Model T with a custom after-market body. This Model T likely was rebuilt and repainted yellow in the late 1910s or early 1920s, as ideas that later led to hot rodding started to take off.

The car maintains its stock acetylene headlights and kerosene side lamps. He purchased this car downstate 25 years ago and restored it. The vehicle still is operated like a normal Model T, right down to having the accelerator on the steering column.

“I enjoy driving it,” Mr. Heins said. “I just hop in and go.”

The Speedster got plenty of use last weekend as Mr. Heins gave rides to select show visitors and let children sit in it for photos. The day before the show, he and his wife, Lois, drove it to Harbor Springs and back, returning via the famous “tunnel of trees” on M-119. He enjoys the St. Ignace show for its camaraderie and the chance to hang out with his friends.

On the other side of the spectrum, Fenton resident Pat Turner’s black 1989 Pontiac Firebird was the newest car in the show. He located the all-original F-Body through a coworker of his wife and has owned it for 2 ½ years. Mr. Turner said the car appealed to him because he wanted something older to play around with and it was in his price range. The car has a V6 engine.

“They are fun to drive,” Mr. Turner said. “It’s like it’s still new.”

Mr. Turner’s Firebird has been in Michigan all its life, but has been well cared for. His only modification after purchasing it was cleaning off some rust from the wheel wells. The two most-common questions his car draws at car shows relate to whether he’s planning to install a V8 — he said he isn’t – and if it is supposed to be the car from the 1980s television show “Knight Rider.” The program’s heroic talking car K.I.T.T. was portrayed using an earlier model Firebird from this generation. Mr. Turner likes Firebirds and wishes the car still was in production. The model died in 2002.

Mr. Reavie is no longer involved in the organizational aspects of the city’s June car shows, but was there enjoying all the sights and sounds Saturday. He brought his classic 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air to the show and was surprised when it was honored as one of the top 20 vehicles on display. He walked the length of the display area Saturday.

“I like the cars that show up here,” Mr. Reavie said. “You see stuff you don’t see anywhere else. There’s something for everyone.”

2017 Antiques on the Bay Award Winners

Overall Best of Show
Dave Fischbach of Bellaire, 1960 Chevrolet Impala
Featured Best of Show
Kirk Brandt of Auburn, 1964 Pontiac Catalina convertible
Gary Olsen Memorial Award
Ron Flokstra of Zeeland, 1925 Ford Model T
Mayor’s Choice
Tom West of Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1963 Buick LeSabre convertible
Best Post-World War II Vehicle
Bill Harper of Linwood, 1949 Mercury woodie wagon
Best Pre-World War II Vehicle
John Flokstra of Zeeland, 1926 Ford Model T
Best Ford
John Hutchins of Brooklyn, 1950 Ford F-1 pickup
Other Top 20 Winners
Dave Bauer of Rockfort, 1978 Ford Ranchero GT
Dave Fischbach of Bellaire, 1966 Chevrolet Impala SS
and 1976 Ford F-100 pickup
Rick George of West Olive, 1931 Chevrolet Independence
Brian Gottschalk of Southgate, 1975 Oldsmobile Toronado
Glenn Harmison of St. Ignace, 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air
Jim Keighley of Cedarville, 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
Charles Londo of Escanaba, 1959 Ford Thunderbird
Sandy and Chuck Laughbaum of Pellston,
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
Brian and Amy Martinie of Holland, 1968 Pontiac Catalina
Robert Morbin of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, 1952 Mercury Monterey
Thomas Pickard of Hart, 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
Randy Powers of Mackinaw City, 1977 Dodge Monaco
Ed Reavie of St. Ignace, 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
Sam and Sharon Roberts of Bay City, 1926 Ford Model T
Gordon Rodenborg of Kawkawlin, 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS
Charlie Schwesinger of Trout Lake, 1970 Dodge Charger R/T
Elizabeth Sydow of Alanson, 1970 Plymouth AAR ‘Cuda
Bernadine Wagner of Alpena, 1976 Cadillac El Dorado convertible

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