Car lovers enjoy classic car shows leading up to Cruisin’ Gratiot

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 15, 2017

 John Ripullo poses next to his blazing copper 1964 Dodge Polara at the classic car show at First State Bank in Eastpointe June 14.

John Ripullo poses next to his blazing copper 1964 Dodge Polara at the classic car show at First State Bank in Eastpointe June 14.

Photo by Bria Brown


The week leading up to the 19th annual Cruisin’ Gratiot is filled with classic car shows throughout Eastpointe that allow attendees to display their vintage vehicles.

St. Clair Shores resident John Ripullo is a member of the United Street Machine car club and enjoys being a part of the annual event.

“The car club brings me to Cruisin’ Gratiot. This is my second year with (Cruisin’) Gratiot,” said Ripullo, while attending the classic car show at First State Bank June 14.

A day earlier, Ripullo won the main trophy during the classic car show at Cloverleaf Bar & Restaurant.

“They had judges walking around, and they thought this was the best car the way it was set up,” he said.

Ripullo owns a 1964 Dodge Polara and has a unique paint color called “blazing copper.”

“I was really shocked they picked mine, because they had some beautiful cars there,” he said.

Doris O’Leski came to the event for years prior to her being an Eastpointe resident.

O’Leski owns a white 1963 Ford Thunderbird and enjoyed spending the day with her friends at the First State Bank car show.

“We’re all friends, we’ve known each other from car clubs, and we all come out together and just enjoy the day and all the activities,” said O’Leski June 14.

O’Leski enjoys Cruisin’ Gratiot because of the cruise lane accommodations.

“I like that they close down the inside lane where we can cruise and don’t have to get caught in traffic. That’s what makes the cruise. Our cars don’t overheat; we can just keep cruising in and out whenever we like, go park and come back and cruise. It makes it enjoyable,” she said.

Forecasts leading up to cruise day have predicted rain; however; O’Leski wasn’t scared of it raining.

“My car was made to keep me from getting wet, not me to keep it from getting wet. I’ll be there,” she said.

Henry Ruiz, Warren resident and longtime attendee of the cruise, has a 1968 Plymouth Road Runner. He displayed it at the First State Bank car show.

“I’ve been coming here at least seven or eight years, and I really like the business participation and the community participation,” he said.

Ruiz found out his car was built in the area from the vehicle’s VIN, or vehicle identification number.

“The car was originally built about 5 miles from here on Lynch Road (in Detroit),” said Ruiz.

Ruiz’s has a purple ‘Godfather Racing’ engine out of Fraser. Originally, the car was going to be painted purple, but Ruiz changed his mind.

“My painter and I were at the Dream Cruise in 2012, and I kept looking for the right color, and I didn’t see anything that popped or that I liked. So I went another route. The paint is called “Tangerine Twist.” It has copper and orange flakes in it, and pearl,” he said.

Trophies are to be presented at each show throughout the week. Attendees have to be present to win the trophy. Car shows were scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, June 15, at Villa Restaurant, 21311 Gratiot Ave.; 3 p.m. Friday, June 16, at East Detroit High School, 15501 Couzens Ave.; and 9 a.m. Saturday, June 17, at East Detroit High School.