Classic car shows signal summer in East Portland

You’ll be amazed at how many cars turned out at this great car show in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood …

Cars, trucks, and more – nearly 150 classic and specialty vehicles filled the parking lot on SE 122nd Avenue at SE Division Street at this cruise-in

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
There’s just something about outer East Portlanders and cruise-in events – they seem to go together very well – especially this year.

At the Pizza Baron Summer Cruise-in, we were surprised to find the entire shopping center’s lot filled with all kinds of classic and specialty vehicles a few weeks ago.

“We have more than 150 vehicles here today,” said the organizer, and the head judge from car club Classic Rides, Gary Frisby.

Gary Frisby of Classic Rides says cruise-in events have been popular this year, perhaps because the economy has kept folks from traveling this summer.

Jeff Dayton and Bill Dayton, owner of Pizza Baron, here flank April Edwards – they’re selling 50/50 raffle tickets to support the Midway Business Association youth programs.

The reason cruise-ins are so popular, Frisby told us, is that it brings people from all walks of life together, for a common purpose. “And, it harkens back to the old days, when car clubs were all over Portland. More than that, it is a positive community event that attracts many people who pass by.”

Nick Leingang shows off 1959 Ford Custom 300, used for years as a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy vehicle.

Sheriff’s car a hit
One car that got a lot of attention was a 1959 Ford Custom 300 driven to the event by Nick Leingang.

“The owner was with the sheriff’s department for 22 ½ years,” Leingang said, recounting the vehicle’s history. “This car was retired in January of 1972.  It was in a garage since that point until 2007, when I dug it out; it sat in the dark for 35 years.”

The interior and exterior of the car was cleaned and the paint polished, he said. “But, it needed a lot of mechanical work – it had a seriously-blown head gasket. We boiled out and relined the gas tank; replaced the wheel cylinders, hoses, and the brake drums. But, the brakes had just 19 miles on them when it was parked.”

Many visitors say they didn’t know about the cruise-in – they stopped in because they saw all the vehicles on display as they drove by.

These judges, Danny Dutson and David Lee, say they’re visiting SE Portland from Washington state.

With so many great vehicles at this cruise-in, the judges said they had difficulty selecting the “best of class” at the event. “There are too many good cars here,” commented judge David Lee.

On our way out, we asked Frisby the value of shows like these. “It gets the old people off the streets”, he said with smile.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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