EASTPOINTE — The 15th annual Cruisin’ Gratiot was just days away, but locals braved a forecast of rain to show off their classic rides at the First State Bank car show June 12.
Roseville resident Larry Hanlon brought his 1965 Rambler. It’s painted bright yellow with all the markings of a taxicab, but Hanlon is quick to tell folks it never was an actual taxi.
“It’s a refugee from a junkyard,” Hanlon said. “It took a year and a half to build it. It was a lot of fun, but I also learned some words that I didn’t know existed. It never was a cab. My son owns a cab company — Suburban Transit out in Chesterfield — so we figured we’d make a hot-rod cab.”
He keeps a picture book of the car’s transformation in the glove box.
“That’s when he found it,” Hanlon said, pointing to a picture of an old, rusted-out beater that looks almost nothing like the car he has on display. Flipping through the book, he talked about the work that went into making it show-ready.
“We took the flathead engine out and put in a Chevy, put in a Chevrolet transmission, Chevrolet rear end,” Hanlon said. “This is actually the bumper, but we cut and molded it and fit it right into the body. I have a real good friend who is a body man, and him and I came up with it.
“There was a lot of afterthought that went into it. We started working on it, and as we were working on it, ideas came to us — like this right here, the hood scoop — that’s the transmission tunnel. The spoiler on the back end came off one of my son’s old cabs.”
Like with many of the other car enthusiasts at the show that day, Hanlon’s list of repairs and redesigns goes on and on. He estimates that he’s put about $27,000 into the hot rod. It’s money he says he’ll never get back.
That doesn’t matter to him — he calls rebuilding it an amazing experience and he’s proud of how it turned out. But as proud of the hot-rod cab as he is, he says he’ll probably spend most of cruise day showing off his ride from the comfort of a parking space.
“I’ll maybe make one or two passes, that’s about all — I’d just as soon park,” Hanlon said.
It’s a wise choice at only 10 miles to the gallon, so Hanlon will show off his hard work on the sidelines while taking in all the other classics that day. He won’t be alone — other classic car owners will be doing the same.
That’s what Eastpointe resident Dan Schuman will be doing, although his car, or rather, cart, gets great mileage. Schuman was showing off his modern-made classic golf cart at the Wednesday night show.
“It’s a 2000 Club Cart and I put a ’57 Chevy body on it and I like it — it’s a nice little hobby,” Schuman said.
Parked beauties like Schuman’s golf cart and Hanlon’s hot-rod taxicab offer folks on foot a much closer look at the classics that they’ve come to see. Eastpointe resident Marty Plus and his 6-year-old granddaughter, Emily Plus, had fun checking out all the classic rides on display.
As soon as she saw it, Emily Plus knew which one was her favorite. “I like this one the best,” she called to her grandfather, who responded with a laugh.
“That’s what we call a ‘rat rod,’” he told her. “She’s still learning, but we are having fun. She probably likes it because it looks all homemade, just like the ones grandpa does.”
The two spent time checking it out, then headed to the Culvers stand for a treat before heading home. Next to the Culvers stand, Theresa West, the Eastpointe branch manager at First State Bank, was handing out pens and welcoming people to the show.
“It’s a lot of fun,” West said of the show. “It’s a great opportunity to get involved with the neighborhood and have a good night.”
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