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  • Writer's pictureJustin Prince

Car enthusiasts and dealership unite for car show

By Justin Prince

Classic car enthusiasts and a local dealership teamed up to raise more than $4,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

This is the fourth year in which the Windsor Chrysler dealership has been involved in this cause, raising money by hosting a Classics Car Show. More than 120 classic car and motorcycle owners registered their vehicles for the show. The vehicles entered ranged from a 1969 Le Mans Blue Chevrolet Camaro SS to a 100th anniversary edition of the Screamin’ Eagle Road King motorcycle.

The event was held to raise funds for the Southwestern Ontario branch of Make-A-Wish. Both Unifor Local 200 and Unifor Local 444 also donated $1,000 each during the event.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions “to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy” according to the organization’s website. The charity has granted more than 350,000 wishes worldwide since 1980.

Jim Scott, a director at Make-A-Wish’s local satellite branch and president of Ground Effects Ltd., said that while his organization’s 40 volunteers holds events such as barbeques and golf tournaments, events such as the car show gives the charity a better ability to raise donations.

“It’s awesome,” said Scott, referring to the total amount of money raised. “We try to get people to do fundraisers for us all year long and it’s hard to find them sometimes. We didn’t ask (Windsor Chrysler). They just jumped to the table and said ‘we want to do this for Make-A-Wish.’”

The car show attracted owners such as 68-year-old Windsorite Gerry Stewart. Stewart, who entered his 1972 Buick Gran Sport into the show, has a long history with his car. In 1970, he had ordered a new Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu and sold it after four years, a decision he regrets to this day. Later, he decided he wanted another Chevelle. Instead, he bought Buick in September 2000. At the time the car was made, Buick’s muscle cars were known for their lack of advertising and low sales totals.

While restoring the Gran Sport over the past 15 years, Stewart has won four awards at various car shows and also took part in a reenactment video made by Windsor and Essex County Crime Stoppers with his car in 2012. He said his car is extremely rare to find and has been the only one of its kind displayed at most shows he’s been to.

“It’s for fun. The cars are fun. You drive them and enjoy them,” said Stewart. “We (my family) grew up with muscle cars and it just happens to be in the blood. My brother’s into it, my dad was into muscle cars when he was alive. It’s just part of the heritage.”

The show also attracted people from the U.S. such as Michigan resident Lynn Miller. Miller, who entered his 1970 Plymouth Cuda Convertible into the event, said he enjoys taking part in shows in Canada. He comes to events in Canada because of the variety of cars at the events compared to the U.S.

“I seen a lot of cars I haven’t seen in a long time. Not just Chrysler, everything,” said Miller. “I don’t want to see the same cars over and over again, that’s why I come over here.”

Gil Valley, who organized the event for Windsor Chrysler, said a lot of work was put into making the event a success, and without a large amount of donations to cover the costs of the car show, it wouldn’t be as successful. He said Phil Diemer, who owns the dealership, was happy with the event.

“He was very pleased this morning when he was here when he saw the people,” said Valley, who has worked for Windsor Chrysler since 1995. “If he’s happy with the people and we want to do it, I’ll do it again. And we’d be more than happy to do it with Make-A-Wish.”

The donations will go towards granting wishes to people within the region.

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