Talking Shop

Custom & Classics Car Show draws hundreds
By: 

Charles Collier Leader Correspondent


Photo by Charles Collier John Boyd from Antigo spent four years rebuilding this 1959 King Midget. On display for the second time at the Customs & Classics Car Show held Sunday, the car was originally sold in a box with all assembly required.

Shawano Lake County Park was filled with hundreds of unique cars Sunday for the seventh annual Customs & Classics Car Show from the furthest edge of its parking area to its share of shoreline.

Judges made their rounds through the winding, stationary parade of passionate handiwork, but sharing stories and insights with a likeminded crowd was reward enough.

What a crowd it was.

“It’s a huge turnout, has been all day. I had no idea it could fit this much,” said Jeff Feistel, one of many onlookers.

In past years, Feistel has seen the park from his cabin across the lake but never gave it much of a second look. Having judged several contests in years’ past, Feistel has an eye trained for minute detail in search of superiority.

“Sometimes it really can come down to whether or not they polished every single part of the engine, or if the paint is stock instead of something that’s just close,” he said, several variables changing between the entry classes.

Many of the projects on display hailed from decades gone by, like Angie Coleman’s black 1978 Pontiac Trans Am.

“This was the car I drove in high school, and I just loved it back then,” she said, reminiscing about blasting cassettes of Pat Benatar, Def Leppard and Ozzy Osbourne.

Her husband Brad’s classic red Ford Mustang sat beside her own and though six hours of waxing and polishing went into preparing for the show, each fearlessly drove to the show from home 45 minutes away in Mountain.

“There’s no use in having them if you can’t drive them on the road,” Brad Coleman said.

That’s partly due to enjoyment, and partly due to the looks of others. When the pair goes on road trips together, the eyes of fellow travelers are rarely unimpressed by the two vehicles running single file.

“I love watching kids in the cars as they pass,” Angie Coleman said, mimicking a slow-turning head with mouth agape. “It’s the best.”

Andy Boyd, of Antigo, could have brought his 1969 Buick or classic Corvette, but he has earned enough trophies with the more modest but no less eye-grabbing 1959 King Midget. The car was formerly sold through advertisements in Popular Mechanics magazine for $300 and arrived at the closest train station — in a box, unassembled.

“It took me about four years to restore it,” Boyd said, having found the original within a pile of barn scrap.

Thankfully for Boyd, the assembly instructions were in tip-top shape, helping guide a complete restoration with every piece fitting original stock requirements, down to the nuts and bolts. Learning how to fit the wiring was a major hiccup in the process which led to, “a lot of cold winter nights,” playing trial and error.

Only 5,000 models of the car were manufactured, and an estimated 900 remain in existence. Boyd and about 100 other King Midget specialists meet once yearly in the vehicle’s birthplace of Akron, Ohio, but he appreciates most older vehicles because of their individuality and uniqueness.

“With the new cars, if you see one, you’ve seen them all. Here, it’s all about respecting the art and keeping that spirit alive,” Boyd said.

David Hull, of Mountain, could not have agreed more, though his 2018 Mustang is far from qualifying for vintage license plates.

“This is something we’re trying to hang on to,” he said of muscle car culture. “We work hard to appreciate what was made by Americans.”

He said he displayed the newer model in spite of condescension here and there from classic-minded purists who walk by because, “Ford has really rejuvenated the Mustang.”

“In the ’60s, you didn’t have air conditioning. Now you have air conditioned seats,” he said.

A more versatile 10-speed transmission can be shifted, so to speak, to fit city driving just as effectively as high-speed laps on a track, Hull said.

“They showed that you can maintain what was a great about these cars; maintain the legend of 1964, and get 30 miles per gallon,” Hull said.

His satisfaction with Ford’s product was not an absolute view of the show or his peers, and even though his Mustang has earned its share of awards, that is far from his only goal in attending Wisconsin car shows.

“I’m not here to bicker about what’s wrong with Lexus or Chevy or Toyota or whatever,” Hull said. “We’re all muscle at the end of the day, and we’re all one and the same.”