I know; most history books list Hawaii as the 50th state (at least until the Texas School Board gets a hold of them and then anything’s possible). But for MCC, Nebraska was the only state in these great United States that we had not shot in. That situation was finally remedied a few weeks ago when we shot The Last Fling till Spring in West Point, Nebraska. It took me 15 seasons to stumble onto this show altho it’s been going on for 21 years.
West Point is a town of about 3,600 people situated roughly midway between Omaha and Sioux Falls, SD but somehow they manage to pull in 700+ really nice cars to the brick streets of the downtown for this one day show.
One of the first vehicles to come rolling in on the morning of the show was a completely restored ’51 Oliver 77 tractor. (Hey, it’s Nebraska!) I ran out and flagged the guy down because this was the tractor I had grown up on. Ours was actually a ’53 Super 77, but they were virtually identical, except that ours never looked as good as this one. From a styling standpoint, these are really cool tractors (if you’re into tractors, that is). Strangely enough, the Oliver was followed by a ’47 John Deere B which was the other tractor we had on the farm. You can see that the woman driving the JD is operating the hand clutch with her right hand. Man did these take me back!
As for my gloves in this picture, I wasn’t doing my best Mickey Mouse impersonation; I was freezing! It was so cold that the cameraman was having trouble operating the camera so he ducked into a dollar store and scored a 3-pack of these goofy gloves. I took him up on it when he offered me a pair.
The weather got better as the day went on but not by much. I’m not sure it ever made it up to 50 degrees with overcast skies and a constant fine mist that you could barely see with your eye, but that was attracted to the camera lens as if it was a mist magnet. Considering the previous two days had been even worse tho with heavy rains, I wasn’t really complaining.
I recently had a chance to shoot a couple really cool muscle Mercs and didn’t even have to leave my home base of Evansville, IN to do it. I had met their owner about five years ago at a small local cruise-in. I don’t actually get to go to those very often since I’m usually on the road, and when I am home I’m too busy trying to catch up on things before I leave again. But this particular one was a fund raiser, I happened to be in town, and a friend of mine had really put the arm on me to attend.
I recall driving my ’56 Lincoln and was just hanging out and chatting with people when this black ’64 Merc Park Lane Marauder pulled in. I think I stopped whatever conversation I was in mid-sentence and made a beeline to that car. I don’t actually recall ever seeing one before, and I just thought it looked incredibly sharp.
It was completely stock; jet black hardtop with a white interior and a factory 4-speed. Being a Park Lane, it was Mercs highest trim level so it was pretty decked out. 1964 was also Merc’s 25th year of existence so it had a few additional 25th Anniversary touches too.
There were very few 4-speed Marauders produced and most of them came with 427’s, but this one had an ultra-rare 390 Super Marauder engine with special large-valve heads and unique cast exhaust manifolds. There were probably fewer than five cars like this one made.
The owner, Tom Lantz, had found the car in Montana and although it needed paint and interior, it was a solid car. He took care of the cosmetics but hadn’t touched the engine which was still running strong at about 78k miles.
I fell in love with the car and enjoyed talking to Tom. I could tell he was a pretty serious performance Ford guy, and his attendance at this cruise-in had definitely made my day.
I pretty much lost track of Tom and that car till I got an email from him earlier this year alerting me to the fact that he had just completed another monster Merc that he thought I might get a kick out of. He was right.
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.