Continuing a legacy

Woman to surprise father with Autorama entry

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 23, 2016

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Jennifer Wilson has been keeping a secret for quite some time to conceal the whereabouts of where her father’s 1964 Chrysler convertible will be the weekend of Feb. 27.

Wilson, a Macomb Township resident, has been telling her father — Jim Klein, 71, of Troy — that his car has simply been undergoing some minor adjustments in the same shop that her classic truck is being worked on in preparation for Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama at Cobo Center starting Feb. 26.

What Klein doesn’t know is that his car will also be at Autorama.

“That’s the biggest problem, because he likes to get involved in everything in every aspect, so it has been such a challenge to keep it under wraps, so we’re still kind of hoping it stays under wraps,” Wilson said.

The journey of Klein’s vehicle to Autorama began inside a U.S. Navy submarine off the coast of Connecticut sometime in the 1960s.

There, Wilson said her father, a member of the Navy for 28 years, struck up what would become a deep friendship with a man who she referred to as “Uncle Al.” Al had a vast collection of classic cars, and when he died four years ago, Klein and Wilson were the beneficiaries of a few of those vehicles.

“This particular car, he (Klein) remembers him driving it up from Ohio, and visiting him in it before he put it away, so that’s why he wanted this particular one when he passed away,” Wilson said. “We got a couple cars from him, but this one, my dad said, ‘This is mine.’ It’s very important to him.”

Wilson has enlisted the help of Rick Dyer, 68, also of Macomb Township, to restore the convertible. Previously, Dyer restored a 1939 Cadillac La Salle for Wilson, and he is also preparing a truck for her to show at Autorama.

“I thought with the way he feels and the way he treats people, he’s kind of carried this legacy out for his friend, so I said I would do the car,” Dyer said. “Not too many people do things for a memory of somebody else — they’re always out for themselves and how much money they can make,. He’s more of a quiet guy, and he would love to see this.”

Klein has driven the convertible in cruises throughout metro Detroit, but Wilson said her father has often asked how people enter cars in car shows. When Wilson and her father go to Autorama, Wilson said her father will only know they are there to see Wilson’s truck.

“He (Klein) thinks I’m just tinkering on it,” Dyer said. “I got a chrome strip back the other day, so I told him I had to pull it out and put it on, which isn’t a lie — it did come the other day, but he just has no idea. He’ll recognize it, but it will be a pretty emotional moment.”

Autorama begins Feb. 26 at Cobo Center and runs through Feb. 28. More than 800 vehicles are expected to be on display, and there will be several celebrity appearances and music.

Tickets cost $19 for adults and $6 for children 6-12 years old. Discount tickets for $17 and $5 are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. For more information, visit www.autorama.com.

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