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Cruising Down Memory Lane

Published: 03/25/2013

To car collectors, a "show ‘n' shine" is a love letter to pistons and chrome.

To the rest of us, it's a time machine.

There's the wood-paneled 1985 Pontiac Parisienne that your family piled into on summer road trips. There's the vintage 1969 Ford Mustang that you coveted in high school. And there's the 1953 Studebaker that your grandfather drove until the floor rusted out.

Man in classic car at show 'n shine
Paul Donaghy's 1962 Pontiac Parisienne is a point of pride. He patched, painted and reupholstered his baby to get it in "show 'n' shine" shape. Photo by Robin Summerfield.

On this sunny Saturday in August, all that nostalgia is parked on the sprawling lot of South Beach Casino, just north of Winnipeg.

The rows of cars and trucks amount to a highway history of the 20th century. There are gleaming leather bench seats; razor sharp tail fins; white-wall tires; and shiny arcane hood ornaments.

"It brings you back to the good old days when I used to drive around as a teenager," says Paul Donaghy.

The St. Francis Xavier carpenter spent 200 hours restoring his 1962 teal Parisienne. He repaired ripped and faded leather bench seats, rebuilt the engine and replaced the rusted gas tank and fuel lines. Donaghy, 49, goes to about six Manitoba "show ‘n' shines" like this one every spring and summer.

Across the parking lot, Neil Frantz tinkers with his 1969 Mach I Mustang.

"It's a hobby and it's my passion," says Frantz, who keeps three Mustangs inside a temperature and humidity controlled garage at his home in Lockport, just north of Winnipeg. Frantz, 68, picked up his hobby after retiring.

Manitobans are crazy for collectible cars and hot for hot rods, but it isn't just the chrome classics that rev their engines. Muscle cars, low riders and slick, modern trucks also turn heads.

Look no further than Winnipeg's famed "cruise night."

As soon as the snow melts, prized cars that have been parked for the winter are restarted for another summer of cruising.  Each Sunday at dusk, various rides, from street racers to vintage cars, roll up and down Portage Avenue.

The cruise draws hundreds of spectators, who often bring lawn chairs. Teens, retirees and parents with kids line the sidewalk. They chatter, eat ice cream and turn their heads in unison to watch the parade of slow (and sometimes fast) vehicles.

Say, wasn't that a 1973 Plymouth Duster?

Rev up your engines and take a ride down memory lane. For a calendar of show and shines and cruise nights across Manitoba check out these car clubs:

Manitoba Association of Auto Enthusiasts 

Fabulous 50s Ford Club of Manitoba

Hot Rods and Classics/ Manitoba Car Clubs

Brandon and Area Car Enthusiasts

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