posted May 07, 2012 in CAMPUS EVENTS
The host of a national television show; a 100-year-old concept car; a running Model T assembled from parts in less than nine minutes; and a car that's just as much boat as automobile – these were just a few of the highlights at the 13th annual C.A.R.S. Club Car Show at McPherson College on May 5.
Hundreds of visitors came to the MC campus to see the about 250 cars and motorcycles entered in the annual student-run car show. Throughout the day, those visitors could spot Wayne Carini, host of "Chasing Classic Cars" on the Velocity Channel by Discovery, and his crew.
Carini was the featured speaker at "An Evening with Automotive Restoration" dinner the night before the show and was taping for a upcoming episode focused entirely on McPherson College, slated for broadcast toward the end of 2012.
Carini said he loves the college's automotive program - the only four-year program of its kind in the world - and the passion and commitment of the students involved. He was also impressed with the advisory board, comparing it to a college basketball team getting detailed advice and assistance from Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
With an aging population of automotive preservers and restorers, Carini called the college's program and the annual car show essential to the future of collector cars.
"We want these young people to take over our own businesses or start their own someday," Carini said. "If we don't have that, all of this is going to go away."
Also see: 2012 CARS Show Highlight Video
One of the opportunities available at the show was intended to stir interest in collector cars well before college - Hagerty Insurance's "Operation Ignite" youth judging program. The program allowed about 20 youth to have a close encounter with five diverse cars in the show - a 1955 Studebaker pickup, a yellow 1965 Pontiac LeMans, a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1921 Rolls-Royce, and an amphibious 1965 Amphicar.
The owner of the Amphicar was John Hollansworth of Hot Springs Village, Ark.
While in the background McPherson College students assembled a running Model T from parts in 8 minutes 55 seconds (a new team record), Hollansworth described the restoration of his car and its "baptism" – testing it out on the water – completed a month before the show. He said the unique German car was made for only about three years.
"They only made convertibles, no hardtops" he said. "If you're out in the middle of the lake somewhere and it starts to sink, you want to be able to get out."
Hollansworth has been involved with the automotive restoration at McPherson College for about 20 years; he was a member on the first automotive restoration advisory board and helped promote the college by driving a 1917 Peerless "Green Dragon" in the 2004 "Great American Race" – a 4,200 endurance competition for vintage vehicles – and named his entry "Team McPherson College."
Helping the restoration program to flourish has been fulfilling, he said.
"You always try to help someone along the way. It just happened to be in an area I was interested in," he said. "Where else can you go that you have that many people with that much experience willing to help you along?"
Near to Hollansworth's Amphicar, Jonathan Klinger, public relations manager for Hagerty Insurance and McPherson College automotive restoration alum, talked to Carini's camera crew as he showed off a 1948 Ford Convertible with rich history.
It was one of 10 such cars designed to give tours of the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan, not far from where Hagerty Insurance is headquartered. The cars were modified for the purpose with heavy-duty suspension and seat springs, big balloon tires and a large cooling system.
"A lot of times the story of a car is what makes the car special," he said.
It was Klinger's 12th consecutive car show, and said that Hagerty brought 10 employees, including the CEO, to the college show. There's a reason they make it a point to come halfway across the country, he said.
"There are far larger shows in the country," he said. "But being able to come here, to a student-run show, this is where it's at. These students are the future."
Just on the other side of the college's iconic central gazebo, Todd Krahl of Salina, Kan., was attending the show for the first time. He brought a 1966 Gerhardt Offy, which took fourth in the 1966 Indy 500, and a 1932 Model A Ford Sprint Car as featured vehicles of the show. The Offy also ran gran prix racing in Fugi, Japan, he said, which proved to be the ruin of the original engine. The Indy car was designed for left turns only on a track to keep the oil pressure. Too many right turns on normal roads overheated the engine.
He said the tradition of automotive restoration is apparent at the college and that cars were a tradition in his family as well, passed down from his father.
"It's just one of those things you're born with in your blood," he said. "Being exposed to it as kids like we were, it's something you just can't shake."
Now he's passing on that tradition to his sons as well, Devin and Taylor.
"Without their help, obviously I couldn't do this," he said, then laughed. "I guess they got the same bad blood that I did."
Two steps from where Krahl sat, Charles Collier agreed that the college was keeping history alive. Collier is the personal assistant and machine shop manager for Ted and Carol Davis of Oklahoma City, Okla. He brought a one-of-kind 1912 Speedwell Duckboat – what they call a "100-year-old concept car." The unique three-seat car was never put into production and the only known example was sold to the president of Montgomery Ward.
Collier said he and Ted Davis were glad to support the college.
"Ted's one of those guys who feels like this college has done everything right in keeping young people interested in cars," he said. "There's nobody else out there who's keeping young people this interested in cars, let alone getting them a career."