2017-06-29 / Front Page

Spectacular Cars Dazzle at St. Ignace

Bevy of Rare Beauties Thrills Crowds and Judges This Year; Nomad Takes Best of Show
By Erich T. Doerr


Doug Hamer of Farmington Hills won the Best of Show prize at the 42nd annual St. Ignace Car Show Saturday, June 24, for his stunning two-tone Cay Coral over Onyx Black 1958 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon. Mr. Hamer purchased it so he would have an ideal classic car for road trips. Doug Hamer of Farmington Hills won the Best of Show prize at the 42nd annual St. Ignace Car Show Saturday, June 24, for his stunning two-tone Cay Coral over Onyx Black 1958 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon. Mr. Hamer purchased it so he would have an ideal classic car for road trips. Saturday, June 24, was the big day for the 42nd annual St. Ignace Car Show as a shining fleet of 668 registered vehicles lined State Street, drawing an estimated 30,000 spectators to enjoy all of its sights and sounds. The show briefly turned St. Ignace into perhaps the most populated city in the Upper Peninsula, as visitors from throughout the Midwest and Canada, along with local residents walked the street to examine 105 years worth of automotive history and innovation.

The show, organized by the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau, featured a full 1.2 miles of display area stretching from Marquette Street all the way south to Burdette Street. Almost every type of vehicle was on display, including cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles, and vans in configurations ranging from factory stock to fully custom. Cars fresh from the factory shared space with classic cars in both original and fully restored conditions. After the judges considered all of the vehicles on display, Farmington Hills resident Doug Hamer received the Best of Show honors for his two-tone Cay Coral over Onyx Black 1958 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon. Mr. Hamer has been attending the St. Ignace show for the last four years.


The “Cacklefest” featuring drag racing cars being fired up downtown. A large crowd surrounds this demonstration Saturday. Bob Pacitto is strapped in and firing up the Lawman Boss 429 Ford Mustang (left) owned by Sam Eidy of Warren. Chief engine builder Richard “Tiny” Mitchell stands alongside, looking under the body. The “Cacklefest” featuring drag racing cars being fired up downtown. A large crowd surrounds this demonstration Saturday. Bob Pacitto is strapped in and firing up the Lawman Boss 429 Ford Mustang (left) owned by Sam Eidy of Warren. Chief engine builder Richard “Tiny” Mitchell stands alongside, looking under the body. Mr. Hamer has owned his Nomad for just three months, having purchased it to have a spacious classic vehicle for road trips. The 1958 model marked the first time this car was offered as a four-door model.


The 42nd annual St. Ignace Car Show Saturday, June 24, filled the town with rare, classic, and customized cars, and the spectators who came to admire them, as an estimated 30,000 people walked through State Street to examine the 668 registered vehicles on display. Many more vintage and custom cars were in town for the weekend, besides those registered for the show. Here, people stroll along the southern end of State Street. The 42nd annual St. Ignace Car Show Saturday, June 24, filled the town with rare, classic, and customized cars, and the spectators who came to admire them, as an estimated 30,000 people walked through State Street to examine the 668 registered vehicles on display. Many more vintage and custom cars were in town for the weekend, besides those registered for the show. Here, people stroll along the southern end of State Street. “It drives excellently,” Mr. Hamer said. “It has an overdrive automatic transmission, so it does modern highway speeds well.”

The weather for Saturday’s show was perfect as skies remained sunny and blue with temperatures holding steady in the low 60s. Thursday’s car cruise took place in the rain, with some threatening skies giving way to sun for Friday night’s Down Memory Lane Parade.


The crowd watching the Down Memory Lane Parade enjoys the energetic Petoskey Steel Drum Band. The group of about 30 students perform around the state in parades and festivals during the summer, playing a mixture of Caribbean music and contemporary tunes. The band is scheduled to be at Bayside Live at the St. Ignace Marina Thursday, July 13, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The crowd watching the Down Memory Lane Parade enjoys the energetic Petoskey Steel Drum Band. The group of about 30 students perform around the state in parades and festivals during the summer, playing a mixture of Caribbean music and contemporary tunes. The band is scheduled to be at Bayside Live at the St. Ignace Marina Thursday, July 13, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. “This turned out really well,” Visitors Bureau Director Quincy Ranville said. “Everything went off without a hitch.”

The day of the show was a long one for all of its organizers and volunteers. Streets began being closed off for the show by the St. Ignace Police Department and the city’s Department of Public Works at 4 a.m. Mrs. Ranville arrived at 4:30 a.m., with Visitors Bureau members and volunteers following at 5 a.m. as the setup and long process of parking the show cars began. Almost all of the show vehicles were in place by 10 a.m. Car show expert Chuck Leighton and Visitors Bureau Board Vice President Luke Paquin headed up the judging of this year’s competition.


At left: Car Show judge Chuck Leighton ( foreground) looks toward State Street while parade announcers Mike Grisdale (left) and Gary Engle give a running commentary on the floats, cars, bands, and individuals participating in the Down Memory Lane Parade Friday, June 23. The parade featured many of the cars that came into town to be displayed at the Car Show the next day. At left: Car Show judge Chuck Leighton ( foreground) looks toward State Street while parade announcers Mike Grisdale (left) and Gary Engle give a running commentary on the floats, cars, bands, and individuals participating in the Down Memory Lane Parade Friday, June 23. The parade featured many of the cars that came into town to be displayed at the Car Show the next day. One of the most popular features was the “Cacklefest” featuring a variety of drag racing cars being fired up in the parking lot of Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry’s Dock 2 downtown. The sound of the motors could be heard throughout town and the smell of the event is unlikely to be found anywhere else, as the odor of burning nitro fuel mixed with that of fresh fudge from nearby candy shops. The “Cacklefest” included two funny cars restored by Caro’s Jim and Julie Matuszak, Roger Lindamood’s 1977 Color Me Gone Chevrolet Monza and the Ramchargers’ 1972 Dodge Demon once raced by Clare Sanders, alongside three drag racing vehicles from Warren’s Sam Eidy and his Motown Motorsports team; the Lawman 1970 Boss 429 Ford Mustang funny car, a frontengine dragster, and a double-A fuel altered coupe. People surrounded the cars from a safe distance as they were started, some plugging their ears and some recording the action on their cell phones.


A vintage fire engine driven by its owner, St. Ignace resident Dave Swope, takes part in the Down Memory Lane Parade. A vintage fire engine driven by its owner, St. Ignace resident Dave Swope, takes part in the Down Memory Lane Parade. “Everyone up here is so nice,” Mr. Matuszak said. “St. Ignace’s car show committee is good to work with.”


Throughout the history of cars, there have been some great ideas, and some that didn’t work out. The 1956 Dodge Custom Royal La Femme displayed at the St. Ignace Car Show by Steve Goodrich and Valerie Murphy-Goodrich of Dearborn falls into the latter category as the two-year model was made by Dodge specifically aiming to appeal to women, but missed the mark as it ultimately came off as “a man’s idea of what a woman would want.” The pair first saw a La Femme together at the St. Ignace show 21 years ago and ultimately bought that exact car in 2007. Special features of the 1956 La Femme included its Regal Orchid and Misty Orchid purple two-tone scheme, a tissue box under the glove box, and a push-button transmission. When it came out, the car would have had a matching rain hat, rain cape, and umbrella that all could be stored behind the driver’s seat and matched the upholstery. The Goodrichs are considering donating this car to a museum, as the Le Femme wasn’t a success on the market and very few survive today. This car’s engine and interior are original. Throughout the history of cars, there have been some great ideas, and some that didn’t work out. The 1956 Dodge Custom Royal La Femme displayed at the St. Ignace Car Show by Steve Goodrich and Valerie Murphy-Goodrich of Dearborn falls into the latter category as the two-year model was made by Dodge specifically aiming to appeal to women, but missed the mark as it ultimately came off as “a man’s idea of what a woman would want.” The pair first saw a La Femme together at the St. Ignace show 21 years ago and ultimately bought that exact car in 2007. Special features of the 1956 La Femme included its Regal Orchid and Misty Orchid purple two-tone scheme, a tissue box under the glove box, and a push-button transmission. When it came out, the car would have had a matching rain hat, rain cape, and umbrella that all could be stored behind the driver’s seat and matched the upholstery. The Goodrichs are considering donating this car to a museum, as the Le Femme wasn’t a success on the market and very few survive today. This car’s engine and interior are original. There were three “Cacklefest” demonstrations throughout the weekend. The first took place on Friday with the second two during Saturday’s main show.


Sault Ste. Marie’s Clint Hillock displayed his completely custom 1933 Ford truck. This vehicle took two winters to build and features an original cab mixed with a homemade frame and a 5.9-liter Cummins diesel engine. This was his first time being at the St. Ignace show since 1988. He drove this truck in the Down Memory Lane Parade Friday, June 23, before it was displayed in the show. Sault Ste. Marie’s Clint Hillock displayed his completely custom 1933 Ford truck. This vehicle took two winters to build and features an original cab mixed with a homemade frame and a 5.9-liter Cummins diesel engine. This was his first time being at the St. Ignace show since 1988. He drove this truck in the Down Memory Lane Parade Friday, June 23, before it was displayed in the show. “This is spectacular,” Mr. Eidy said after seeing the huge crowd Saturday.


Sault Ste. Marie resident Tom Luoma displayed his beautifully restored 1963 Studebaker Avanti in St. Ignace as part of a large contingent at the show from the Twin Sault Cruisers car club. Mr. Luoma has owned his supercharged Avanti R2 for 16 years. He bought this car as a wreck in Ohio and restored it, including redoing the frame and repainting it in the famous Avanti Gold color. The Avanti’s unique look came from esteemed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, with the fiberglass speedster as one of the last new Studebaker models to hit the market. The cars were popular, but production issues meant Studebaker couldn’t make them fast enough to meet the demand. Mr. Luoma is still amazed by the stories this car generates when he takes it to shows today. Sault Ste. Marie resident Tom Luoma displayed his beautifully restored 1963 Studebaker Avanti in St. Ignace as part of a large contingent at the show from the Twin Sault Cruisers car club. Mr. Luoma has owned his supercharged Avanti R2 for 16 years. He bought this car as a wreck in Ohio and restored it, including redoing the frame and repainting it in the famous Avanti Gold color. The Avanti’s unique look came from esteemed industrial designer Raymond Loewy, with the fiberglass speedster as one of the last new Studebaker models to hit the market. The cars were popular, but production issues meant Studebaker couldn’t make them fast enough to meet the demand. Mr. Luoma is still amazed by the stories this car generates when he takes it to shows today. When the city wasn’t being rocked by the roar of the drag cars it was ready to roll to the beat of a variety of live music acts on stages positioned throughout downtown. Mrs. Ranville loved all of the music, noting there was a great mix of bands this year; the Visitors Bureau has added more live music since it began organizing the show. Gary Engle of G-Man Entertainment and Mike Grisdale broadcast live at the event.


At left: This stylish two-tone 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air owned by John Eaton of Johannesburg was honored as both a Top-40 prize winner and the Mayor’s Choice Award winner. City councilmember Steven Paquin, St. Ignace’s Mayor Pro-Tem, made the Mayor’s Choice prize selection, as Mayor Connie Litzner was unable to attend the show. At left: This stylish two-tone 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air owned by John Eaton of Johannesburg was honored as both a Top-40 prize winner and the Mayor’s Choice Award winner. City councilmember Steven Paquin, St. Ignace’s Mayor Pro-Tem, made the Mayor’s Choice prize selection, as Mayor Connie Litzner was unable to attend the show. “We had great foot traffic,” Mr. Paquin said. “We had a lot of new people” in attendance alongside the regulars.

Car show founder Ed Reavie attended and was pleased with how this year’s show shaped up. After examining the cars in the show he signed his book, “St. Ignace Car Culture” alongside a display of his car memorabilia downtown.


One of the most unexpected entrants in this year’s St. Ignace Car Show was this highly-customized 1956 Divco milk van dubbed The Milkman and owned by Kevin Saddison of Harbor Springs. People look over the van while Brent Demidovich of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, (right) walks past. The Milkman was recognized with a top-40 award. One of the most unexpected entrants in this year’s St. Ignace Car Show was this highly-customized 1956 Divco milk van dubbed The Milkman and owned by Kevin Saddison of Harbor Springs. People look over the van while Brent Demidovich of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, (right) walks past. The Milkman was recognized with a top-40 award. “No two cars are the same this year,” Mr. Reavie said. “Everyone has something different.”

Most vehicles in Saturday’s show came from American manufacturers, with all major brands, past and pres- ent, represented alongside unex- pected nameplates like DeLorean, International Harvester, American LaFrance, Divco, and Essex. Several European and Japanese cars were also on display, including models from BMW, Jaguar, Porsche, Volkswagen, Austin-Healey, Toyota, and DKW. Big Rapids residents Brian and Deb Cataldo even entered their 1964 Amphicar in the event; the unique vehicle can function as a car on land and a boat in the water. The model years on display ranged from 1912 to the present. The wide variety of vehicles in Saturday’s show was accompanied by more than a hundred other classic, performance, and custom vehicles that could be found throughout St. Ignace last weekend that weren’t officially entered.


The St. Ignace Car Show’s 2008 Guest of Honor Roy Sjoberg, the mastermind engineer who helped bring the world the Dodge Viper, briefly returned to the show this year to attend its brunch Friday, June 23. Here Mr. Sjoberg is pictured alongside the 1995 Dodge Viper prototype he drove to Friday’s event, with a foggy Mackinac Island looming in the distance. Mr. Sjoberg said he has been attending the St. Ignace show for years, noting that he is a friend of show founder Ed Reavie. The St. Ignace Car Show’s 2008 Guest of Honor Roy Sjoberg, the mastermind engineer who helped bring the world the Dodge Viper, briefly returned to the show this year to attend its brunch Friday, June 23. Here Mr. Sjoberg is pictured alongside the 1995 Dodge Viper prototype he drove to Friday’s event, with a foggy Mackinac Island looming in the distance. Mr. Sjoberg said he has been attending the St. Ignace show for years, noting that he is a friend of show founder Ed Reavie. A wide variety of dining options were available to show visitors with local restaurants reporting booming business and street vendors offering hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, roasted almonds, sweet corn, and fish sandwiches. Pasties remained a favorite. People could sample county fair staples like elephant ears, funnel cakes, and deep fried sandwich cookies. Several of the street vending groups were fundraising for local charities and organizations, including the St. Ignace Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, and Masonic Lodge. A vending area at Star Line’s Dock 1 sold everything from car parts and toys to decorations, clothing, posters, and vinyl records.


Two winners side by side on State Street, (from left), a 1956 T-Bird, and a 1962 Corvette. The Peacock Blue Thunderbird is all original except for the tires and won Best Ford Car. It is owned by Marty Hattinga. The 1962 Chevrolet Corvette was recognized in the top 40. It is owned by Russ and Julie Sutton. Two winners side by side on State Street, (from left), a 1956 T-Bird, and a 1962 Corvette. The Peacock Blue Thunderbird is all original except for the tires and won Best Ford Car. It is owned by Marty Hattinga. The 1962 Chevrolet Corvette was recognized in the top 40. It is owned by Russ and Julie Sutton. Saturday’s show ended after its awards ceremony with cars starting to leave around 5 p.m. By 6 p.m. State Street was reopened to all traffic, but the going remained slow for hours as the main roads were taken over by an impromptu car cruise, with owners driving their vehicles through town again and again to enjoy the sights and sounds. People lined the streets and set up lawn chairs to watch the cruising. The evening activities were capped off by fireworks in the skies above Moran Bay, the first of the season in St. Ignace.



Ed Reavie of St. Ignace founded the Car Show 42 years ago, and this year he was featured in the Down Memory Lane Parade Friday, June 23, and the car show Saturday, June 24, where he signed copies of his book, “St. Ignace Car Culture.” The show is now hosted by the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. Mr. Reavie is standing by the car of his friend, Jack Walker, this year’s guest of honor. Mr. Walker is a renowned car customizer. The car is a 1959 Chevrolet Impala. Ed Reavie of St. Ignace founded the Car Show 42 years ago, and this year he was featured in the Down Memory Lane Parade Friday, June 23, and the car show Saturday, June 24, where he signed copies of his book, “St. Ignace Car Culture.” The show is now hosted by the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. Mr. Reavie is standing by the car of his friend, Jack Walker, this year’s guest of honor. Mr. Walker is a renowned car customizer. The car is a 1959 Chevrolet Impala.

At left: Famous car customizer Jack Walker (left) of Benton, Missouri, was the guest of honor at this year’s 42nd annual St. Ignace Car Show, while car restorer and modifier Mike Stowe (right) of Boyne City was its honorary chairman. Both of the show’s special guests are pictured here together at the car show’s brunch Friday morning, June 23. The guests both displayed a car in the show near the St. Ignace Marina Saturday; Mr. Walker brought his 1959 Chevrolet Impala, and Mr. Stowe had a 1940 Ford. At left: Famous car customizer Jack Walker (left) of Benton, Missouri, was the guest of honor at this year’s 42nd annual St. Ignace Car Show, while car restorer and modifier Mike Stowe (right) of Boyne City was its honorary chairman. Both of the show’s special guests are pictured here together at the car show’s brunch Friday morning, June 23. The guests both displayed a car in the show near the St. Ignace Marina Saturday; Mr. Walker brought his 1959 Chevrolet Impala, and Mr. Stowe had a 1940 Ford.

Mike Gamble of St. Ignace was one of the local entrants in the show Saturday, June 24, as he displayed a trio of all-time classic cars with the 1928 Ford Model A pictured here, the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air behind it, and a 1918 Ford Model T that isn’t shown. Mr. Gamble has attended the car show for all 42 years of its existence, remembering attending the first show as a child when there were only about 20 cars and almost all of them were early Fords. He has owned this Model A for two years, his Bel Air for six years, and his Model T for three years. Mr. Gamble has always had a soft spot for old cars. He said this roadster is fun to drive with the top down when he gets the chance. Mike Gamble of St. Ignace was one of the local entrants in the show Saturday, June 24, as he displayed a trio of all-time classic cars with the 1928 Ford Model A pictured here, the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air behind it, and a 1918 Ford Model T that isn’t shown. Mr. Gamble has attended the car show for all 42 years of its existence, remembering attending the first show as a child when there were only about 20 cars and almost all of them were early Fords. He has owned this Model A for two years, his Bel Air for six years, and his Model T for three years. Mr. Gamble has always had a soft spot for old cars. He said this roadster is fun to drive with the top down when he gets the chance.

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