Our HistorySharing some history of our club - chartered by CCCA in 1956
In The Beginning – the Michigan Region CCCA
The Michigan Region was chartered by CCCA in 1956. Charter members ere Andrew Adler, Robert Brodie, Maurice Horger, Robert Mellin, Dale Shaeffer, Mavin Tamaroff, Bruce Thomas, John Wolihan, and Jake Zak
The following is an excerpt from Early Years in the Classic Car Club written by Wally Donoghue and published in Torque. The complete set of three articles can be viewed:
The Michigan Region, which was chartered in 1956, held its first Grand Classic on July 13, 1957, with great excitement. It was originally held at Greenfield Village and they were a joint sponsor with us. The program, published for the Grand Classic in 1957 and later years, had this statement at the bottom: “This Midwest Grand Classic, sponsored by the Classic Car Club of America and Greenfield Village, is one of a series of special events held each year as part of the Museum’s educational program.”
The Museum and Village were very enthusiastic and did everything they could to encourage and help us. Among the things they did was to issue regular press releases to newspapers promoting the event and describing what Classic Cars were. In addition to the press releases they sent out to the Michigan papers, on July 10 they sent out a press release to dailies and weeklies in all states that had entries registered as of the 9th. For each state this included a list of the names, addresses and cars entered from each respective state. They also advertised this as an event in their publications and posters. Prior to positioning the cars on the field they led a parade of our cars through the Village and then onto the field. Along with our Classics the museum put on display some Classics from their own collection. As if all this were not enough all participants were given a free pass to the Museum and Village and they photographed each car and sent a print to the owner. The museum even went so far as to also give free admission to members who did not register for the meet. All they had to do was present their membership card.
However, even with all the fine preparations not all went as planned. Fortunately, it did not rain on the day of the event or for a few days before. But prior to that it had rained heavily as described in this quote from a report on the meet by Glenn Beach of Saginaw in the Fall 1957 issue of The Classic Car: “Due to the extremely heavy rains that have flooded Michigan during the past two weeks, the magnificent and spacious meadow at Greenfield Village was not available for the heavyweights. It was therefore necessary to conduct the competition on a rather restricted parking area which did not allow sufficient space between cars to obtain good photographs. When one of the officials asked me to assist in the judging of the cars, I jumped at the chance because the intended program was to drive each car into a roped off area, and I thought this would be a good way to get individual pictures without a crowd and other cars in the background. When it came time for the judging, however, I discovered that this too had to be abandoned due to the space restrictions of the parking lot. Confusion was further compounded by the fact that the parked lines of cars had been roped off, and the interested spectators, which I would estimate at 300 – 400, pressed the lines in to touching distance of the cars. The judging was very well handled and went quite smoothly so that the results were known early in the afternoon.” In spite of these problems as described by Glenn Beach it was a highly successful first Grand Classic run by the Michigan Region with a total of 65 cars were judged. Photo 2 is a view of some of the cars.
Prior to the banquet the Museum hosted a nice cocktail party in the Grand Ballroom on the second floor of the Dearborn Inn. The banquet was held in Lovett Hall. After dinner was served there was entertainment and talks prior to the awarding of the trophies. Then, a few days after, the meet, the Museum and Village sent out a press release reporting on the success of the event and giving the names and scores of the winning cars. The top score of 98 points went to a 1931 Cadillac V-16 Roadster owned by Don Cole of Columbus, OH.
The 1958 Midwest Grand Classic, held on July 12 with even greater support from the Museum and Village. Chuck Letts was the chairman of the event and also showed his 1929 Duesenberg Phaeton. It was similar in most respects to 1957 but, instead of a parade through the village there was a parade through the City of Dearborn, led by a police escort and a car from the museums collection prior to lining up on the field. As an example of the enthusiasm of the Museum and Village, I quote a letter given to all participants on the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village letterhead: “TO ALL PARTICIPANTS IN THE 1958 MIDWEST GRAND CLASSIC. Once again it is a pleasure for us to welcome you to Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village for the Midwest Grand Classic. Our collection of over 175 restored antique automobiles is one of the largest and finest in the world. The Midwest Grand Classic will bring to life an important period of automotive history in that collection – – the Classic Car, representative of the “Golden Age” of motoring. While you are here today, we cordially invite you to visit both Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield village. You may do so at your convenience and your identification badges will admit you at either place without charge. We hope your visit with us today will be most enjoyable and we are looking forward to spending another very pleasant day with you. This was signed by the Executive Director of the Museum and Village, Donald A. Shelly. There were 71 cars judged with the top score again going to Don Cole’s 1931 Cadillac V-16 with 99-1/2 points.
For 1959, everything was similar to the 1958 meet with continued support and perks from the Museum and Village. The parade this year was headed by the museum’s Bugatti Royal driven by Randy Mason with your author riding in the front and his wife, Marlene, in the back. The number of cars judged rose again to 80. The highest point Michigan Region member was Russ Strauch with his 1931 duPont Phaeton, shown in Photo 3 with 99 points. Note the fence which separates the general public from the cars. Another view is Photo 4. The car in the foreground of this photo is Gene Kutz’s 1940 Rolls Royce Phantom III. As can be seen in this photo there are modern cars in the background. In these early years members could also bring their modern cars down to the field and park off to the side away from the Classics. Again, the banquet was held in Lovett Hall and a wonderful bonus was Ray Dietrich. He was the after dinner speaker and regaled the audience with Classic Car history and his personal experiences. Photo 5 shows him speaking at the podium.
The 1960 Grand Classic was another resounding success with the same program and events and with the same cooperation and help from the Museum and Village. By now the Michigan Region Grand Classic was a well established event. There were 78 cars judged. Margaret Dunning showed her recently acquired 1930 Packard Roadster which achieved 97 points in the Senior Division. While I took a number of photos of this event I somehow missed getting one of Margaret’s car. However I did get a photo of well known Michigan Region member Al Ferrara’s 1933 Duesenberg shown in Photo 6. Again notice the modern cars in the background since members were still allowed to bring their everyday cars onto the field.