Cruising Downtown draws classic cars, crowds
Classics, antiques, hot rods and even a few monster trucks lined Elm Street and Veterans Park as crowds of people strolled through for a look at a virtual timeline in the history of automobiles.
“It's that reward at the end to turn the key and drive it out, knowing that you built it,” Carey Demers said standing next to the 1926 Fort Model-T he spent more than 2 years rebuilding from the wheels up. “If you buy them it's not the same. I could tell you pretty much every nut and bolt in this car. If I broke down on the way home, I could probably tell you what's wrong with it because I built it.”
The car's body is in remarkable shape, but the engine is obviously not the original four-cylinder model that came off the assembly line more than 85 years ago. Demers put in a racing engine he had from another car and the Model-T now packs 375 horsepower.
Demers also brought along his 1923 T-Bucket hot rod, which his teenage son got to drive to the show.
Demers, who recently retired from his job installing fire sprinklers, said he would spend a few hours each night after work in his shop at his home in Merrimack, taking it one meticulous step at a time before he finished the project.
“I have the original title to the car laminated from 1926, marked 'Paid in Full, $275 cash,'” Demers said.
Elm Street was blocked off from Bridge Street all the way to Veterans Park, and the entire way lined with cars that were eye-catching for a variety of reasons. There was a 1945 Jeep, completely decked out in Army green and looking ready for service in the late days of World War II. A few blocks to the north sat a 1976 Ford Torino with a “Starsky & Hutch” red and white paint scheme with the added feature of a cherry-top red flashing light ready to be slapped on the roof when the chase begins.
Kids attending the show got a kick out of the “Ghostbusters Mobile,” a 2008 white stationwagon complete with the logo from the 1984 classic comedy and a replica ghost trap sitting on the roof. The stereo also belted out Ray Parker Jr.'s theme song from the movie starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis.
Demers' cars were among the oldest on display. There were some quite modern models, including a Ferrari and a Lotus as well as muscle cars from the 1950s and '60s, most in pristine condition and looking ready to take on any challengers at the strip. Some were there to win prizes, others just to enjoy being around other auto lovers who believe a car can be much more than just a vehicle.
Mel Dennis, a retired locomotive mechanic and wife, Donna, sat proudly in fold-up chairs on the sidewalk next to their 1940 Ford Coupe.
Mel said the car was “OK” but plain when he got it about 12 years ago. Now is looks almost brand new, spiffed up with a rich cabernet red paint job. The couple from Bernardston, Mass., take the coupe to shows all over the country.
“It's time consuming and it isn't cheap,” Mel said. “They're only done when you've run out of money.”
- - - - - - - -
Doug Alden may be reached at email@example.com.
Proposed Hess gas station draws questions
Online outdoor guide hits snag in funding
Candlelight vigil set for homeless
Volunteers sought to wrap gifts for youths