The Fleetwood Cruize-in is the largest outdoor car show in Canada. It runs annually on the first weekend in June at a private country estate just outside of London, Ontario. Over 5000 cars go on display for viewing. Proceeds from admissions and parking go mostly to charities. The two-day event also features celebrity appearances, helicopter rides, and vendor displays. There is an indoor classic car museum also but it was way too packed to even try to take photos. This year, some actors from the old Dukes of Hazzard TV series were on hand. There was a 50/50 draw also.At this year’s show I felt that GM was the most heavily represented brand. This is apropos when you consider London is home to a GM factory where they currently make the Equinox. Kind of makes London a “GM town”. However, there were cars from all the “Big 4” present. The show is not just a local car event, I saw cars from elsewhere in Ontario, and from Michigan and Illinois on display.
The lead car is called, “Mr. Beep.” It is based on a 1957 Ford Zephyr, which was a British model. It was used by BP to talk to kids about road safety. The car’s restoration was featured a couple of years ago on Restoration Garage on History TV. It was so gone that they had to find another Zephyr in order to carry out the resto.
Let’s take a walk around the manicured lawns of the Plunkett estate.
Here is a 53 Cadillac. I love this design with each section of the car having its own style element. The upper line along the front fender stops at the door while the lower side molding continues to the first door. Then the rear quarter has its own distinctive treatment leading to the taillights. The sunvisor above the windshield must have been an aerodynamic drag.
Here is a design comparison I have not seen done – a Chev and a Pontiac from the same year, 1957, from the same angle. This enables you to compare the similarities and differences between the two. Yep, same basic body with different hood and front end treatments. I wonder if anyone ever took the front clip off of a Chev and put it onto the Pontiac, or vice-versa.
Same idea holds true for the back as well – same general body shape with different design elements. I love that sweeping white section on the rear fender of the Chev. This is a different Bel Air than the one shown from the front. Fifties cars must have all gotten their roof treatments from the same designer – the roof curves down at the trailing edge. You can almost see it in the blue Ford next to the Pontiac. Chrysler used the same idea as well.
To me, for a classic car show to be complete, a 59 batwing Chev must be included. I love these cars, I remember riding in one as a kid. This was a neighbour’s car, and they would take me and their kid out for ice cream sometimes.
A 64 Imperial. This is a year off of the 65 they used in the Green Hornet, but the resemblance is there.
A 1972 Buick GS. These had similar bodies to the Chevelle and the Cutlass.
A 1974 Pinto. I believe the sign on the windshield is a statement of honesty.
A Nash wagon with its own trailer. I pegged this at about a 1952 model. Not sure if a paint job is ever in the future of this fine example of patina. The difficulty in changing the tires on this must have been problematic, especially if changing a flat roadside.
Whether you love fins or hate them, this 60 Cadillac (and its 1959 cousin) certainly set the bar.
I usually think of the Tucker Torpedo when I see the name of this one. Just five years after Tucker used the moniker, Studebaker used it on this car. Personally I would get rid of the fuzzy dice. No good spot for the front license plate I see.
I will close with this ’76 Le Mans, done up to mimic the Sherriff’s car in Smokey and the Bandit. I was a fan of Jackie Gleason, but I was not keen on his role in the movie with the heavy southern accent. Possibly Carroll O’Connor may have been better suited for the role.
On a side note, I would agree with Paul that taking photos at a car show is particularly difficult with other spectators and the car owners themselves to navigate. Accommodating owners will gladly close the hoods for you to take a photo, but many times they are engaged in telling their story to passersby, entirely blocking the view of their car. Side profile photos are often impossible also.
The extra length in a ’55-’57 Pontiac was all ahead of the front doors. Therefore the doors are a perfect swap for a Chevy’s. I did that on a ’57 I once owned.
Don’t forget that Canadian Pontiac’s shared Chevrolet’s chassis and wheelbase so they are about the same length.
Here is a 1957 Pontiac Laurentian:
Great shots. I recognized Mr. Beep immediately, having just watched the shows involving its restoration over this past weekend. The CC effect is alive and well.
I had never before noticed how squared-off the headlight surrounds on the 57 Chevy are. That really was a masterful redesign of a 2 year old body. Almost every part of the Pontiac comes off as lumpy and heavy while the Chevy is crisp and light.
That 64 Imperial is a Crown Coupe, one of only about 5000 made. Cadillac sold tons of Coupe DeVilles, but Lincoln and Imperial could never crack the coupe market. Finally, that Studebaker is a 50. I hate to be a grouch, but if there is anything I am getting really tired of it is a modded bulletnose Studebaker. They seem to be everywhere.
Didn’t some wise sage once opine the bullet-nose Studebaker is the ’57 Chevrolet of the Studebaker world?
That person did indeed.
With all due respect to others, the Restoration of Mr. Beep just made me angry when they destroyed that nice convertible Ford Zephyr.
I will confess to some sadness at that myself. Those Zephyr convertibles cannot have been common at all. However I sort of assumed that Mr. Beep had enough fame and goodwill in Canada that if you had to destroy a good Zephyr for any reason, this was as good of a reason as there might be.
Thank you for that, as I also was a bit miffed at the thought of a perfectly good Zephyr being hacked to save a car I consider a “mere” cartoon car. I guess that Mr. Beep, being backed by BP of Canada, has more of a following there, making it culturally relevant. It is no more than someone using a 69 Charger as a Dukes of Hazard clone, albeit a bit more tasteful. If it brings someone joy, more power to it.
As a Canadian I’d never heard of Mr. Beep until they destroyed a mint Ford Zephyr convertible (a super rare car especially in left hand drive). I read that they actually drove the Zephyr across Canada before hacking it up.
JP, You know, that Restoration Garage show where they redid Mr. Beep was good as far as it went, but I have only ever seen two seasons, and they keep trotting out the same reruns. OK, Paul was the shop mgr the first year, then he left and they brought in another guy, I get it. The Newfie guy is into Mopar muscle, they did a Bugatti resto for a middle east car show, OK, seen it. Either they stopped filming due to internal problems or perceived lack of ratings. I think there is plenty of interest in shows like that.
I had never noticed that about the 57 Chev headlights either. As Tomcatt630 said below, I had not realized that the Chev and the Ponch were the same base car until many years later. Certainly the Pontiac has a more rounded appearance.
I think I had to google the Stude to figure out what year it was. I’ll go with your assessment that it is a ’50 not a ’53.
Love the Nash wagon. I hear ‘U’ turns and turning sharp corners were problematic in those too.
Happy Motoring, Mark
The front track on the Nash Ramber’s were narrower than the rear, it can really be seen head on. To it makes them look ungainly, like they were going to fall over. Still didn’t do much for turning or tire changing though.
Yeah, but you put that long metal mast on it that touches the electrified mesh ceiling, and it’s way cool bumping into the other cars! 🙂
the 60 cadillac design would also look cool without the fins and just the long downward sweeping rear fenders. but I like the fins too. when I win the lotto I will build a 60 finless caddy !
I always thought like that too! Take a look at the ’57 Eldorado and picture it finless. And while we are at it, drop in a rock-crusher 4 speed, and some nice wheels. And for gawd-sakes, don’t be like all the cartoon-like car “restorer” dirtballs on TV and FREAKIN LOWER IT!!! I mean really? Is it mandatory on TV? Must be. Same as all the mechanics have to wear black, have bizarre haircuts, scraggly pubic hair like beards,and $10,000 worth of tatts.
Here’s one Raymond has done already. Maybe he shouldn’t have…
To paraphrase a NYT critic, Mr Loewy’s muse is is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste.
Case in point to add to the ’59 Cadtastrophy you mentioned, his 1960 Lancia Flaminia “Loraymo”…
Now ya see, being as I always thought the pseudo “space age” fins on the late 50’s and early ’60’s GM cars where hideous and served as much purpose as the tuner goofballs putting fart can exhaust and wings on the back of a front drive Toyota. I actually, except for the wheels, like that ’59. Never much liked over-the-top trim and fake stuff on cars.
You DON`T want to see a `59 or `60 Caddy without fins. As a friend of mine would have said-‘it looks like a woman without ‘…………..Well, you know.
Equinox’s are assembled in Woodstock, about a 40 min drive from London. It used to be a joint venture with Suzuki. London’s connection with GM is because they used to build GM Locomotives there.
I was just about to enter a comment, but this one pretty much sums up my thoughts.
Looking at the Chevy vs the Pontiac, it’s so clear to see why Pontiac’s sales numbers suffered so during that time period, as the cheaper Chevy was clearly the style winner.
And as a lover of outliers of all sorts, the Imperial is a dream car of mine.
And yes, the Studebaker lends itself handily to modding, and I’ve never seen one I didn’t like in general, but at a certain point I start to fear there’ll be none left in their original form.
The differences in the 57 Chevy and Pontiac were enough, that back then, average people thought they were separate car makers.
I always felt that those Pontiacs looked like the hood and trunk badges were upside down.
I can almost guarantee that the Rambler wagon will keep its patina.
Thanks for sharing the photos MoparLee. Did you happen to go into Steve’s Cadillac “garage” and take photo’s there? I’ve never been able to make the Fleetwood Country Cruise in, but I will make it one day. As for the GM dominance, I find that is pretty common anywhere in car events in Ontario. It seems most big shows I have been to in Ontario are loaded with GM products.
FWIW, for anyone who happens to be in London, they host a cruise night every Thursday at Steve Plunkitt’s property. I was able to go recently, and there were probably a couple hundred cars at the cruise night.
I did go in the garage but it was so packed it was impossible to even get near the cars. It was very well done though.
I found a ’57 Buick with a ’57 Chevy front end.
Actually that doesn’t look bad – if you’ve never seen the originals.
Looks to be a Buick clip with the Chevrolet guns,headlights and grille. Nice job! Interesting car with attractive details. Hood and bumper are Buick – guns molded in. Fenders look like modified Buick as well.
I wonder if it’s Dynaflow or Powerglide? ?
Maybe it’s a Powerflow, or a Dynaglide.
Gotta go, big muscly type with a bike chain at the door….. 😉
Dynaglide….isn’t that sold in the “personal care” aisle in the local drug store?
I almost spit beer on my monitor! ?
Must be like the joke about the Buick portholes and Dynaflow but this is a family site.
Lots of nice stuff here. Just a minor point – -the brown LeMans is a ’76 instead of a ’75. The ’75 models still used round headlights.
Agree it is a 76. Now I have to figure out how to make an edit to this post. Thanks!
*VERY* nice ! .
Thank you for sharing .
Just as a passing note, Steve Plunkett is the owner of the original Cadillac Coupe De Ville prototype built on a 130+ inch wheelbase. He also has a Cadillac originally owned by the former King of England, Edward and Wallis.
I’ve always wanted to go there. I understand it is Cadillac heaven !
Here is a picture of that car. My car club had a guided tour by Steve of his collection a few years ago. Just an incredible group of cars.
In regards to the picture of the ’74 Pinto and the comment about the note on the windshield being accurate . . . what did it say? → I enlarged the photo twice and still couldn’t make out what the note card said. I am most curious! 😀
Nice pictures, btw. Shame the show was so crowded you couldn’t take more piccies!
I am curious also. I too tried to enlarge the photo but had the same result. Inquiring minds would like to know.
two elements – “Explosive”, and 17000 documented miles. Here is a blow-up
Thanks for the ‘blow-up’ pic, Moparlee. I’m guessing ‘Explosive’ refers to the gas tank issue with the humble Pinto?
When I was growing up in West Palm Beach, FL, in the 1980’s (I sprung to life in 1973) there were Pinto’s everywhere, it seemed.
With only 17,000 miles that ’74 is still ready to go, go, go after 43 years!
Great stuff, MoparLee! Thanks for this post, and I love Mr. Beep!
After reading what you had written about the “statement of honesty” on the window of the ’74 Pinto, I zoomed in to see what it said, but couldn’t make is out… Can you remember what it said?
A new, ’74 Pinto was the last car owned by child actress Anissa Jones (“Buffy”) of “Family Affair”. I remember reading that she had purchased the new Pinto for herself, but had treated her brother to a new, loaded ’74 Camaro. I thought that was so sweet.
Yes I posted a blow up of the sign on the windshield above, it said “Explosive” and 17,000 original miles. Nothing like a gas tank that could blow up upon impact. I rode around in some Pintos in the 70s, a friend of mine had a job delivering for a drugstore and the car was a Pinto. He beat that car like a sick mule and it would not give up. Later one of my college teachers had a Bobcat, and he loved it. As we would learn later, buyer beware on these cars.
Thanks, Moparlee! I need to remember to read all the comments before doing so myself. 🙂