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.
Before it was all said and done, there were several hundred cars in attendance, and there was some really great stuff. Of course there were a few Canadian-only vehicles like Monarchs (which are largely rebadged Mercs), Meteors (which are largely rebadged Fords), Beaumonts (which are Canadian Pontiacs but they look an awful lot like Chevelles), and Mercury pickups.
There were a few cars that really caught my eye tho. I’m a sucker for wagons, and this ’65 Belvedere with a Super Stock engine was pretty slick.
As was this satin black retro-rodded ’58 Mercedes sedan.
And of course if there’s a Stude anywhere nearby, like this way cool turquoise President, I’m gonna find it!
There was even a WWII era, Canadian-issue, military Harley 45; complete with front mount machinegun holster.
I also got to hang with Paul Williamson (aka Willy) who is an automotive journalist for one of the Winnipeg newspapers and also a budding television personality himself with a program, Willy’s Garage, about the local car scene.
I signed a bazillion autographs and posed for countless pictures with cruisers and their rides. These folks just flat out wore me out, but I had a great time. Like I said, there are no fans like Canadian fans! Beauty, eh?