There’s nothing like Michigan in early summer when it’s car show season. Especially when that show is held at a toy store like CARS Inc. Purveyor of the finest interior components, sheetmetal, and accessories in the aftermarket, CARS Inc. has been holding its annual car show and open house since 2004. For the 10th anniversary, they wanted to throw the biggest bash possible, and we were on hand to enjoy the festivities.
With almost 400 cars on hand, free food, games for kids, raffle giveaways, and a chance to get an inside peek on how CARS Inc. builds such great interiors. General manager Dale Deaton led groups around the plant, showing off the sewing rooms, die form presses, racks of patterns used for making seat covers and doors panels, and CARS Inc.’s massive stock of OE cloth and vinyl materials.
Part of the event is guided tours of the CARS Inc. facility, led by general manager Dale Deaton. Besides the stocks of parts already on the shelf, visitors got to see how various interior parts are made, the factory patterns CARS Inc. uses for building parts, and the different things that go into assembling a high quality interior.
One of the cool things to see on the guided tour was how CARS Inc. die forms the pleats into vinyl material for door panel and seat cover materials.
Outside was music, fun, and a chance to see some great vintage Detroit iron. While CARS Inc. only makes parts for GM vehicles, the show is open to all makes and models, so it’s a great event for everyone.
Back in the day, Joe Waterman saved up every penny he could to buy a new car, a brand-new Chevy filling his dreams at night. On the day he visited the dealership with his father, Mr. Waterman only had one stipulation for his son’s purchase … no V-8! Knowing his son would soon start hopping up anything with eight cylinders, young Joe was limited to a ubiquitous 235 I-6 and three-on-the-tree. Fifty-five years later, Joe still owns the ’59, with its 235 still under the hood.
Well known (or could it be legendary?) Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational and USCA competitor Mark Stielow brought two treats out for the CARS Inc. open house this year. First was his new ’14 Z/28, which Mark had a hand in developing for Chevrolet. The second is his newest creation, partially finished. The ’69, slathered in PPG Salsa Red, is Mark’s idea of “stepping up my game” as he told us, to compete with the growing number of challengers running late-model Corvettes. The car will have a Brian Thompson built 427 LS for power, Detroit Speed suspension, and a full carbon-fiber front clip plus a carbon-fiber rear spoiler.
A cool visitor to the 2014 open house was Billy Utley’s ’72 Nova. Built by Billy and his father, Bill, at their shop, B&B Classics, it’s a competitor on the USCA circuit and the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational. It sports LS3 power and Detroit Speed suspension.
Another OUSCI competitor in attendance was Aaron Oberle and his ’65 Chevelle. Aaron’s A-body has an LS1/T-56 drivetrain combo for motivation.
Nothing says classic Chevy more than a black ’57 convertible with orange and silver interior. For movie aficionados, you’ll recognize this ’57 is a duplicate of the one Sean Connery rode in during the movie Dr. No when he’s picked up from the airport in Jamaica.
Jeff Betz has owned his ’69 wagon since 2005. Jeff got tired of having what everyone else did, so he bought this grocery getter from the second owner, added big-block power with a five-speed, aftermarket suspension, and disc brakes so he could enjoy fun cruising and wowing the crowds around autocross courses.
More ’58s seem to be popping up on the show circuit in recent years, after decades of not being wanted. Chuck Herkowitz’s Impala convertible is one of the nicest we’ve ever seen. A factory 348 Tri-power car, it sports power steering and power brakes. And how about that tri-tone blue interior?
Bob Kessler bought his ’69 SS427 Impala new from Funston Chevrolet in Detroit late in November 1968. He drove it every day until 1979, when it was retired in favor of a more family friendly vehicle. In the early 2000s, Bob started restoring the car, and by 2007 it was back together and looking as good as the day he first brought it home. Ninety percent of the sheetmetal is original, amazing for a native Michigan car that saw daily driving for over a decade. It still has the original 390hp 427 and TH400, along with EZI glass, posi-traction equipped 3.07 geared 12-bolt, and power steering to make maneuvering the big Chevy easier.
Very cool to see was Jim & Mary Ann McGrail’s ’57 210 wagon. Bought originally by a Michigan flower shop as a delivery car, then stored in a barn for decades after the shop closed. The McGrails rescued the 210 and got it back on the road, swapping in some fresher V-8 pair and other small items for better cruising.
The folks at GM were nice enough to give us an upgrade from our usual event rental car! This ’14 2SS featured all the bells and whistles in a Camaro short of a sunroof. MyLink, six-speed manual trans, Recaro buckets in place of the factory units. A far and welcome cry from the typical Chevy Cruze we get at the airport.