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Archive for February, 2012

VIDEO: 2012 Polar Bear Cruise Flame-Throwing Crew

Screen shot 2012-02-28 at 9.03.29 PM

You can never tell what will happen during a custom car cruise and while on the ’2012 Polar Bear Cruise’ we were treated to quite a spectacle, put on by the Bare Bones Car Club. Anytime you throw a couple of their specially prepared rides together, you’ll see a flame throwing extravaganza like no other, just as we experienced at the group’s stop in Island Lake, Il.

For more details on the super-slick 1950 Buick, catch our video interview with owner, Ryan Johnston. If you didn’t think the flames could get any higher, think again once you see him lay on the throttle and things really heat up.

For more on the event, see our photo galleries from the stops in Elgin and Palatine.

FEATURE STORY: 1959 Edsel Ranger

1959 Edsel Ranger

When it comes to cars, we’ve all got our favorites. But one brand often left in the shadows is Ford’s Edsel. It came onto the scene during a shifting marketplace and was never quite able to make a solid foothold. It left as quickly as it came, having a production run lasting only three years. One enthusiast is Andy Bieszart who grabbed a 1959 Ranger and has made a cool custom cruiser.

If you want all the details, head over to the Daily Herald for our full feature story. Also be sure to catch our video walk-around for an even closer look.


1948 Ford F1

All this month we’ve been checking in with Island Lake, Il, hot rod shop, Nostalgic Autobody and seeing what projects they’re currently working on. Yet another rolling restoration they’re busy creating is a 1948 Ford F1. Shop owner, Kevin Fielder, gave us the scoop on this blue oval hauler.

FEATURE VIDEO: 1959 Edsel Ranger

1959 Edsel Ranger

During its three year run, the Edsel brand never received a lot of love from consumers or enthusiasts. Even today most remember the brand only as an automotive failure and little else. Whatever your opinion, when you stumble upon one of these rarely-seen rides, you have to stop and take a look. That’s why, while on the Polar Bear Cruise, we caught up with Andy Bieszart, who owns this too-cool 1959 Edsel Ranger, and got up close with his custom cruiser.

SHOWS: 2012 ‘Back to the Beach’ Classic Car Show

Back to Beach Car Show

Spend enough winters in the Mid West and it won’t take long to realize organized classic car events during the cold months are few and far between. That could be why when we caught wind of the ‘Back to the Beach’ classic car show, held at the Arlington Toyota-Scion, in Palatine, Il, we jumped at the chance to see some local vintage iron, all parked in indoor comfort. The beach-themed event occurred this past Saturday, from 6-10 pm and featured live music by the Chicago 60’ & 70’s band “The Legends”, a catered dinner, silent auction and classic car show – all for a nominal fee supporting Northbrook synagogue, Anshe Tikvah.

Here’s the full photo gallery from the event but expect several video walk-arounds on a few of the custom cruisers in the very near future.

FEATURE STORY: 1947 Chevrolet 3100 & 2003 Chevrolet SSR

Chevrolet Trucks

It’s been long said ‘You can never have too much of a good thing’ and that idea resonates quite well with Cliff Steif and his love of Chevrolet pickup trucks. He started off with ordering for himself a 2003 SSR, even before they hit dealerships. Before long, that modern cruiser had him yearning for its inspiration – a vintage 1947 3100. In the years since finding one, he’s worked to create two, custom two-toned machines that look oddly similar, despite being decades apart.

Read the full feature on these hot-rod haulers on the Daily Herald’s website. Also catch our video interview with Cliff and see his four-wheeled toys in action.

FEATURE VIDEO: 1950 Buick Special

1950 Buick Special

Typically, classic and custom car owners spend exorbitant amounts of time stressing over perfecting that perfect paint job for their ride. Ryan Johnston took a very different approach with the exterior of his 1950 Buick Special and the shimmering results are nothing short of spectacular. We caught up with the hot-rodder, and his machine, at the 2012 Polar Bear Cruise, to find out more about his special set of wheels.

Did we mention it shoots giant plumes of fire?

BUILD IN PROGRESS: 1969 Dodge Charger

1969 Dodge Charger

Earlier this month, we checked in with Nostalgic Auto Body, in Island Lake, Illinois, to see what wild, custom machines they were currently working on. In addition to an LS3-packing 1956 Chevrolet 21o, they also have been building a Surf Green 1969 Dodge Charger for its 18-year old owner.

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We caught up with shop owner, Kevin Fielder, who gave us a quick run-down on this Mopar muscle machine.

CRUISING: ‘Polar Bear Cruise’ – Palatine

FCR Cruise

You may recall that on Super Bowl Sunday, instead of preparing for the big game, we tagged along with the Bare Bones Car Club for their 7th annual Polar Bear Cruise. Things kicked off at a parking lot in Elgin, IL and from there the 60+ vehicles cruised to Foreign Car Rebuilders, in Palatine, Il. Shop owner, Milo Iglesias, opened his doors and welcomed the hot rodders in for a time of catching up, seeing current projects, food and beverage refreshment and a chance to admire the old iron parked outside.

FEATURE VIDEO: 1947 Chevrolet 3100 & 2003 Chevrolet SSR

3100 & SSR

It’s not uncommon for automakers to seek inspiration from previous models for their current offerings – especially when it comes to performance vehicles. What is a bit more rare is for the owners of the modern machines to seek out those earlier versions their high-tech cruisers were based on. One such enthusiast is Cliff Steif, who nabbed a 2003 Chevrolet SSR and then realized he had to have its predecessor – a 1947 3100 pickup. After both received a thorough going-over, the rolling result is a pair of custom haulers whose subtle decades-apart differences are hardly ever noticed.

FEATURE STORY: 1969 Camaro Z/28

Picture 2 12-37-47

Falling in love with one particular vehicle can occur at any age. Usually it happens for starry-eyed small boys once they catch that first glimpse of their gleaming dream machine. Mike Kochanski was a ripe old age of 10 when he first laid eyes on a LeMans Blue 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 and never could quite get it out his head. Eight years later he purchased one of those iconic Chevy cruisers for himself and has held onto it ever since.

We’ve already showed this four-wheeled bruiser in action, but for even more details and specs, head over to our feature in the Daily Herald.

ARCHIVES: Auto Advertising March 1968

Herald page

It’s always fun to take a whimsical look back at how much has changed in the last several decades. One surefire way to jog the memory is to take a gander at automotive pricing. Below is a Friday section from the March 15, 1968 Daily Herald newspaper – which, even after all this time, is still in circulation in the Chicagoland area.

While it didn’t feature Classic Recollections like it does now, it did present advertising you’d never find anywhere in this modern age. If you were in the Windy City that spring and headed down Northwest Highway to Des Plaines Chrysler Plymouth, you’d find a just released muscle car – the Road Runner, eagerly awaiting new owners. You’d also be able to pick up such classics as a ’64 Ford Galaxie ’500′ for just $795, a ’65 Sport Fury costing $1,495 and a 9-passenger ’64 Dodge Custom wagon for a paltry $1,095.

If you dropped by White & Cronen Ford in Niles, more rolling treasures could be purchased for less than most down payments today. At this self-proclaimed ‘T-Bird Headquarters’, a whole flock of vintage Thunderbirds were parked and ready to go. The model years ranged from ’64-’67 and each cost less than four grand. Musclecar lovers had their options with a pair of ’67 Mustangs, each available for right around the $2,000 mark.

Over the past four decades the pricing has dramatically changed but the love for these iconic and well-loved vehicles hasn’t waned  one bit.

BUILD IN PROGRESS: 1956 Chevrolet 210

56 Chevy

No matter what automotive brand’s flag you fly, every true hot rod and classic car enthusiast can admire and appreciate a skilled and well-executed restoration and build. Nothing garners respect and deep admiration as the recognition of hard hours of labor and special craftsmanship poured into these rolling works of art.

That’s why we’re launching a new section on Classic Recollections, designated to finding these future trophy and track winners while still in progress to give you a unique behind-the-scenes look – before you come across the finished car at a cruise night, or show floor podium, near you.

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To kick things off, we headed over to Nostalgic Auto Body, in Island Lake Illinois, to catch up with shop owner, Kevin Fielder, to get the scoop on a custom 1956 Chevrolet 21o that his shop is currently working on. When completed later this summer, it looks to be one wicked street machine, packing a modern LS3 powerplant and drivetrain, while still maintaining its vintage exterior vibes.

CRUISING: ‘Polar Bear Cruise’ – Elgin

Polar Bear Cruise 2012

We mentioned earlier this week how one local car club saw Super Bowl Sunday as the perfect chance to dust off their radical machines and, despite the nippy weather, get out and get cruising. Their name is the Bare Bones Car Club and their 7th annual ‘Polar Bear Cruise’ had over 60 custom cars and trucks come out for the 30-mile drive from Elgin, Il to Nostalgic Auto Body in nearby Island Lake, Il. The rodders gathered in the parking lot of a Golden Corral and after a hearty breakfast, loaded up and headed out, carving up the curvy backroads. Here’s a photo gallery showing all the wild and custom rides that turned up for the kick-off to this annual event.

FEATURE VIDEO: 1969 Camaro Z/28

1969 Camaro Z/28

Childhood impressions are powerful motivators and one that has stayed with Mike Kochanski ever since he was a small boy was the sight of a LeMans Blue 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. He never forgot the first time he saw that muscle-bound Chevy at a Union 76 gas station just down the street from his family home. Right then and there he vowed to have one and eight years later, that dream came true. Decades have passed since then but even after all that time, he’s still held on to his fantasy Z/28, restoring it into the perfect V8 bruiser.

CRUISING: Bare Bones Car Club ‘Polar Bear Cruise’

1937 Ford Pickup Cruising

If you were like the majority of the football-crazed population, you probably spent most of your Super Bowl Sunday preparing for that national event taking place in Indianapolis last night. But one local die-hard group of automotive enthusiasts carved out most of their morning and afternoon to make time for their perennial driving season kick-off event. For the past six years, the Bare Bones Car Club has made it a yearly tradition to host an annual cruise occurring every February and yesterday was no different.

They call it the ‘Polar Bear Cruise’ and even braved the blizzard conditions last year to ensure the event went on. Compared to then, yesterday was quite balmy, given the mid-30 degrees temps and breaking sun. We tagged along with the dozens of custom cars and trucks for the 30-mile drive from Elgin to Island Lake, making a stop in at FCR in Palatine along the way. We’ve got tons of photos, video walk-arounds and all kinds of behind-the-scenes bonus content we’ll be publishing right here in the days to come.

Check back to ensure you don’t miss anything.

The chilly temps didn't dissuade Bob Sanford from bringing out his custom 1937 Ford Pickup.

CRUISING: Cruise Night & Event Calender Launch

If you’re like those of us in the Midwest, once January comes and goes, you being to start counting down the days til spring and the beginning of a new cruise and car show season. But with so much going on in the Chicago area, it can be hard to keep track of what’s happening and when. That’s why Classic Recollections has added a special new section of our blog, appropriately called the ‘Cruise Night & Event Calender’. If you look up to the far right corner of our homepage, you’ll find it next to the ‘Home’ and ‘About’. Even now, we’re busy updating it as soon as word gets out about official dates and times but we need you, the classic car enthusiasts, to help us keep and maintain it. If you see something misprinted or not listed, kindly shoot us an email at and let us know. There’s nothing more frustrating than missing your favorite event simply because you, and others, didn’t know about it or couldn’t find the correct details.

February has just started but before you know it, it’ll be the glorious Chicago summer season. We can’t wait to get back out to the cruise nights and show parking lots and we’re guessing, neither can you.

RIDE-ALONG VIDEO: 1965 Ford Mustang G.T. 350

1965 Shelby GT350

In today’s over-the-top muscle car world, where factory V8 bruisers can be readily found in dealer showrooms with engines packing anywhere from 500-700 horsepower, the modest number of 306 may seem rather unimpressive. But cram those snarling stallions into a light-weight, track-prepped 1965 Mustang G.T. 350 and hear them wail through dual, side-exiting exhausts and you’ll quickly agree it seems like just the perfect amount for this iconic member of the vintage street elite.

See for yourself and ride along in Mike Nowak’s pristine Wimbledon White Shelby coupe. If you still haven’t changed your mind, you may need to watch it again.


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