Behind the Wheel: Purple power

By: Jennifer Sigouin | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 5, 2017

 Ward makes her way down the cruise route in her purple Trans Am during a past Cruisin’ Gratiot in Eastpointe.

Ward makes her way down the cruise route in her purple Trans Am during a past Cruisin’ Gratiot in Eastpointe.

Photo provided by Carol Ward

EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe native Carol Ward loves all things purple, and for her, it’s not just a much-loved color — it’s a way of life.

Ward has a mostly purple wardrobe and lives in a purple house with purple flowers in her garden. So when she wanted a new paint job for her 1981 Pontiac Trans Am, what color did she pick? You guessed it: purple.

“It was originally navy blue with the eagle on the hood,” Ward said in an email. “The paint was in bad shape when I bought it, so I had it painted purple — the same purple of the glasses I had at the time.”

Ward purchased the car in 1991. It had 75,000 miles on it, and aside from the paint, the only restoration work it needed was a front fender.

Over the years, she made a few more updates, including replacing its original 305 engine with a four-speed 350 engine in 2002.

In 2007, Ward decided it was time to repaint the car — again in purple, but this time bolder, brighter and more sparkly. She took the car to Clovers Collision and Mechanical Repair in Eastpointe and presented owners Diane Reece Seger and Mike Seger with several bottles of her favorite purple nail polish as inspiration.

“It was a unique request to have a customer come in with nail polish bottles and get the color to match,” said Diane Reece Seger. “Running a business would be easier if all customers were like Carol.”

According to Ward, Mike Seger painted a sample from each bottle of nail polish, side by side, on a piece of white paper.

“We quickly eliminated most colors and kept going back to my favorite bottle of polish,” Ward explained.

Clovers’ paint supplier had a color already formulated that was a close match to the nail polish, and after painting a small sample of it on the Trans Am’s rear fender, Ward and the Segers agreed that this shade was “the one.”

“Since the car had already been painted twice, all of the previous paint had to be removed, so it was quite a job,” said Ward. “I couldn’t be happier with it!”

She added that she gets “lots of thumbs up” on the car’s color — especially from women — and she noted that people are always wanting to get a better look at it.

“I’ve had people follow me,” she said. “Someone in a parking lot took a video of it; a woman at a shopping center waited for me so she could ask permission to take a photo; and a guy took a photo of my car, visible in his side view mirror, while driving down Eight Mile.”

Ward, who works for an automotive supplier, drives the Trans Am from April through October, depending on weather, and typically puts 1,000 to 1,500 miles on it each year. She also takes the car to several cruising events throughout the summer, wearing purple — and requiring passengers to wear purple — as she drives along the cruise routes.

As an Eastpointe native and a graduate of East Detroit High School, one of her favorite events, of course, is Eastpointe’s Cruisin’ Gratiot.

“I always go to (the) Gratiot cruise, because it is where I grew up, and the cruise is a nice size — not too large,” she said. “I really like having the lane pass.”

Cruisin’ Gratiot attendees shouldn’t have any trouble spotting Ward at this year’s cruise on June 17.

“I can’t hide in that car!” she said.

For more information on Cruisin’ Gratiot, visit www.cruisin-gratiot.com. To pick up a Cruisin’ Gratiot driver packet or lane pass application, stop by the cruise headquarters at Clovers Collision and Mechanical Repair, 17285 Stephens Road in Eastpointe.