This May marks seven years I've been behind the wheel of what we call Classic Recollections. So much has happened since this time last year.
In the last 52 weeks, besides features and the occasional classic car news, I, working closely with Auto Editor Mike Burke, have featured 47 different suburb owners and their rides. Before we charge ahead into the new year, I wanted to look back and share a few of my favorites.
1967 Pontiac Firebird
Oct. 9, 2016
I love original owners' stories. They never fail to contain loads of great motoring memories. That was the case with Kyle Van Sickle's Firebird. Kyle's dad, Keith, wanting his "last sports car" before the kids came along, bought it new. Much later, Kyle's dad even let him drive it. Wanting to support his college son's business efforts, he allowed Kyle to install a hitch. Kyle told me he worked at a painting business and it wasn't uncommon for the classic to be loaded down with a trailer and ladders. It's easy to see a row of gleaming machines and forget that once, like this 'bird, they were all used and loved in all kinds of conditions.
Sept. 10, 2016
So Mike Ruhl moves into a new place and for 25 years he hears about a neighbor's 1967 Impala, but he never sees it. The owner, Hank Newman, was a GM tech who ordered it new and frequently talked about it, yet never took it out of the garage. After Hank's passing, Mike waited 10 more years for Hank's widow, Arlene, to sell him the car. Mike told me he loves the car but more than that, misses those casual talks with Hank. After the feature was published, Mike also told me he walked over to Arlene's and shared it with her, both of them savoring the memories of Hank. That connection, that community with one another, is so precious and how cool that these classics serve as vehicles to bring it about.
City stickers, Part Two
Dec. 25, 2016
I started featuring city window stickers in 2015 and it continues to be a hit with readers. I must admit; I love them too. The idea came about because whenever I venture to a show or cruise night, I always look for old city stickers stuck on the cars' windshields. It's a good tip-off the car has a local connection and usually a good story. I soon found that the stickers themselves were worth talking about. They're fascinating, colorful mementos and connections to our beloved suburbs. Be sure I'll showcase another batch in the coming months.
1939 Farmall tractor
Aug. 28, 2016
An avid column reader reached out to me, stating he owned a tractor his grandfather bought new. However, he was worried I may not be interested because it wasn't a car. Not only was I very interested but it's one of my highlights. To me, Classic Recollections isn't just about our love for classic cars and trucks. It's about our passion for transportation. We love getting around and we love how we get around. Just like this tractor. The current owner, Rodney Bettenhausen of Palatine, had wonderful memories (and old pictures) of riding around with his dad. He was so proud of his family heirloom. He's logged over 200 miles participating in tractor rides, including one around the Chicagoland Speedway. I love that and hope readers continue to tip me off to vehicles of all kinds.
1960 Chevy Corvette
April 30, 2017
You wouldn't believe how excited I was when I heard about a 1960 Corvette still in the original owner's family. That alone was enough to get my heart racing, -- and the current owner had full documentation including old pictures, even professional photos. It turns out, the current owner's grandfather hired a photographer in the 1960s to shoot pictures of the car and his show trophies. He had a passion that ran deep and has been passed on to family. After the story ran, I got an email from a reader who was in the same Corvette Club as the original owners in the 1960s. Her closing statement warmed my heart: "Your story brought back good memories from 50 years ago."
That reader summed up well what we do here. Classic Recollections is more than just a passing look at cars and trucks. It's about sharing motoring memories together. Vehicles bring us together. Everyone (no matter your age) has a connection to a car, truck, van or even a tractor.
A great place to share yours is at Daily Herald Cruise Nights. We're gearing up for our biggest and best season yet. The four monthly events are hosted at Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, on June 21, July 19, Aug. 16 and Sept. 20. I hope you come out and look forward to seeing you there.
• Share your car's story with Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.