Midwest winters can drag on, leaving cruising enthusiasts hungering eagerly for spring. To help tide their motoring appetites, there are a few special events each season, like the Custom Rides Car Show and Expo, held last weekend at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
Now in its third year, the show places emphasis on family friendly fun and forgoes rigid judging and evaluation. The three-day extravaganza boasted 85 cars and trucks of all vintages. While strolling the packed aisles we came across some special machines.
1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Jim and Judy Scott, Midlothian
Jim Scott wasn't a Ford-loving guy when he came across his 1969 Mustang Mach 1. He found the muscle car in 1989 in Steger.
"It's strange. I've always been a die-hard Mopar guy but their prices kept rising. With young kids at home, this was a classic car I could afford and get back into the hobby," he said.
The Grabber Blue 'Stang was in good, but not great, shape and Jim and his wife Judy kept it stored for seven years. "During that time, for every Father's Day, Christmas and birthday, Jim got parts for the car," Judy said.
Finally in 1996 he began the restoration. "During the two-year project he was literally working on it seven days a week."
All that effort culminated in the Mach 1's completion in June 1998. Underhood is a 351-cubic-inch Cleveland V-8 mated to a C6 transmission. While the exterior appears showroom fresh, a subtle touch has been carefully worked in. "The original stickers are a matte finish and appear dull. We preferred a more glossy look and hand-painted the stripes on," Jim said.
While the topside is spotless, the undercarriage wasn't overlooked. "The whole floor was rotted out and to bring it back to flawless condition is something we're proud of. Even if most don't get the chance to see it, it was well worth it."
1965 Buick Gran Sport Ken Becker and Ken Jr. , Tinley Park
Ken Becker and his son Ken Jr. are no strangers to the Buick brand, having completed eight vintage vehicles together. Despite their prowess, when the father/son restoration duo came across their road-ready 1965 Buick Gran Sport, their only plan was to drive it.
Ken Sr. found the car in New York in 2012 and was drawn to its rare pedigree. "The car is one of 200 built with its specific combination of features. It has such factory options as the 401 (cubic inch) Nailhead V-8, four-speed Muncie transmission, dual-quads and A/C," he said.
The intention was cruising but a full restoration was prompted by a slight road mishap. "A young driver hit the passenger side and creased the door. It could have been a simple fix but we went the route of transforming the whole thing."
The once red with vinyl roof Buick was stripped and repainted in glittery House of Kolor Meteor Maroon Metallic paint.
"The color closely matches the interior upholstery but isn't too obnoxious," said Ken Jr., who performed the paint job. Other add-ons are drilled disc brakes and American Racing wheels, while a one-inch drop gives the Gran Sport an asphalt-hugging stance.
Ken Sr. sums it up: "The best part is working with my son and just the plain finished product."
1958 Chevrolet Impala Bump and Grind Auto Body, Homer Glen
This 1958 Chevrolet Impala started off life as a ho-hum Cashmere Blue on blue interior cruiser but was transformed into a rolling calling card for the restoration crew at Bump and Grind Autobody in Homer Glen.
Their coal-black beauty was found in Tennessee still retaining its original 283 c.i. V-8, which showed a mere 40,000 original miles. One of the craftsmen responsible for the radical ride is Marty Amoroso.
"We took the car to one show and then right away performed a complete frame-off overhaul," he said.
The build took less than a year, resulting in a completely different Chevrolet. The vehicle was lowered three inches in the front and two in the rear. A Hotchkis sport suspension keeps the wheels planted during hard maneuvers and disc brakes bring the cruiser to a dime-crunching halt.
DuPont Performance Coating's Spies Hecker black paint has been sprayed on, highlighted by a custom hand-painted carbon fiber trim bar along the belt line. That silver/black motif carries over to the custom red interior and across the leather upholstery. A wild ride such as this needed a powerplant a bit more menacing than what the factory bolted in, and a 427 c.i. V-8 fit the bill.
"Nothing is special about the exhaust set up. It's real quiet, a sleeper. When spectators hear it, they never guess what's underhood."
1949 Chevrolet 3100 pickup Nick Anaste, Tinley Park
Nick Anaste's 1948 Chevrolet 3100 pickup spent its life as most haulers do -- pulling duty as a rusty farm truck. The Tinley Park's resident's Mystic Teal vehicle came from Alabama, where it underwent its first iteration. A second owner in Chicago was in the process of making some further changes when he sold it to Anaste in 2008.
"I purchased it as half-done and made some additional modifications that better suited my liking," Anaste said.
The three-year overhaul commenced with an engine swap. "It had a real big cam in it that everyone likes, complete with that 'rump, rump' sound. It's a great noise but really made the truck undriveable."
That unruly underhood beast was replaced for a more mild and street friendly 350 c.i. V-8. Fumes are emitted through dual Flowmaster exhausts.
Other unique touches are a four-inch chop on the cab, LED taillights, keyless entry and power disc brakes. A custom leather interior ensures Anaste cruises in comfort.
"I drive it everywhere. It never goes on a trailer so if you see it on one, call me. That means it's stolen."