Last week we went up to the land of float planes and moose for the Midnight Sun Cruise-In which was held in Fairbanks, Alaska. And let me tell ya, that’s a long haul from E’ville, Indiana.
It was three airplanes and about 16 hours total travel time before we finally got to the Bear Lodge; our base of operations for the next few days.
I had built an extra day into the schedule for a change to recover from the inevitable jet lag. The car show itself wasn’t till Saturday, and although there was an organized cruise to a salmon bake Friday evening, we basically had Friday to kill. Since this event was being hosted by the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, I figured walk-thru would be a good way to spend the morning.
Fairbanks really isn’t a very big town, about 40,000 people, and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the museum, but I could not have been more wrong. This place absolutely blew me away. The museum was the vision of owner Tim Cerny and his wife Barb. The collection has several one-of-one and only-one-left cars as well as several Alaska-specific vehicles (which were extremely weird).
Last week we were in the mountains above Malibu, CA to shoot one of the most interesting cars I have ever seen, the Timbs Special.
This sleek streamliner was created by mechanical engineer, Norman E. Timbs, back in 1948. The aluminum body was hand-formed by legendary metal man, Emil Diedt, and it was powered by a mid-engine Buick straight eight. The car actually graced the cover of the second issue of the newly-launched magazine, Motor Trend, back in October 1949.
Gary and Diane Cerveny are the proud owners of this baby. They have a number of cars in their collection and their tastes run the gambit from Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts to vintage drag and Indy cars, but they really made a commitment when they took on the restoration of the Timbs Special.
After its glory days in the late 40’s and 50’s, the car had some less auspicious decades including a stint as an attraction out in front of a SoCal restaurant with kids running up the back and sliding down the fenders. It was largely forgotten until what was left of it was auctioned at the Peterson Museum back in 2002 and was bought (almost accidentally) by Gary for about $17,000.
Gary, his son, and his father embarked on the restoration. Altho they had done numerous award-winning restorations in the past, after four years they decided to call in the cavalry and engaged the services of Dave Crouse and Custom Auto in Loveland, CO. Dave and his merry band spent another three years to recreate the masterpiece that is the Timbs Special. All told, over 5,500 hours went in the restoration of this car. It is absolutely stunning.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to go up to Winnipeg, Manitoba as the guest of Peter Ginakas for one of his Sunday night cruise-ins. Peter is a restaurateur in Winnipeg and is also a serious car guy. He has four restaurants around the city which all go by the name, Pony Corral, and several years ago he started holding Sunday night cruise-ins at one of his locations. These really caught on and have grown steadily.
Winnipeg is a real car town. Without a doubt, it is the cruisin’ capital of Manitoba; and perhaps all of western Canada. There are a lot of cars there and the quality is quite high. I attribute that to a combination of factors; very skilled craftsmen and really long winters. I also love going up there because they are such huge fans of the show. I always say, there are no fans like Canadian fans!
I flew in on Saturday and when the plane broke thru the cloud cover during landing, I noticed a lot of standing water everywhere on the ground. They apparently had gotten quite a bit of rain the previous night and earlier that day. I figured that surely it would clear off for Sunday’s cruise-in, but instead it proceeded to dump record amounts of rainfall through the evening and well into the night.
Underpasses throughout the city were flooded, the Red River which runs thru Winnipeg was well beyond its banks, and the flood control system that diverts excess water around the city was at its capacity. All I could think was, “Well this sucks!”
Sunday morning didn’t start out much better. It was grey and chilly and showed little promise for improvement. Peter had a VIP brunch at one of his restaurants, and I was surprised at the number of people that attended with their cars in spite of the weather. These Canucks are tough!
The cruise-in itself was scheduled to run from 4 to 10 pm at another one of Peter’s locations, and I was really keeping my fingers crossed for an improvement in the weather. As luck would have it, almost on cue, the clouds parted at about 4 pm, the sun beamed thru, and the cars began streaming in. It was still only 55 degrees but hey, for Winnipeg, that’s balmy.