Classic wheels roll into the Bennington Car Show

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BENNINGTON -- This weekend at Willow Park the Chamber of Commerce and local Rotary and Lions Clubs will host the 48th annual Bennington Car Show, drawing hundred of vendors, classic car owners and enthusiasts.

As the proud owner of a 1952 Ford F1 pickup truck and a member of the Norshaft Lions, William Jakubowski is one of the key figures behind the show, and it's his job to get all the cars lined up and organized into their correct classes. We talked to Jakubowski about his truck and his expectations for this weekend's show.

BWSV: How much work have you done on your truck?

WJ: I've had it for 17 years. It was painted when I first got it, and I had to put in a new pickup bed, the wood and the rails. And I did a lot of mechanical to it -- I worked on the water pump, the carburetor, the generator. All the ‘rators.

BWSV: How did you first get interested in classic cars?

WJ: I've always been a car person. When I was 12 I would ride in the back with mom and dad and tell them the make and model of every car that we passed on the road. That's much more difficult to do today, because everything is the same shape.

When I got married I had a 1965 Barracuda, which was an early muscle car, like the early Mustangs. Then I had a 1956 Chevy and worked on that, then I bought and restored a 1937 Oldsmobile. It was my friend's winter beater car, and I restored it -- I changed the tail lights back to original and changed the motor, because it was a street rod. It had a small Chevy engine, and I put in a bigger Chevy engine with automatic transmission.

BWSV: Is the truck a big change from your previous cars?

WJ: The main change is my truck is all original. It has the original flat-head V8, three-speed standard-shift transmission on the steering wheel, and the idea is to keep it as original as possible. When I add things to it, I make sure they were available in 1952, either as standard or legitimate options. Also my ‘37 Olds had 300 horsepower, and my ‘52 Ford pickup has 95!

BWSV: How often do you drive your truck?

WJ: It's registered as an antique, which means you're not supposed to drive it on a daily basis, but you can use it to go to shows and cruise nights or exhibits, or for charitable purposes. I've been probably 160 or 170 miles away from town with it, but it is old and you don't want to get too far away from home base.

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BWSV: How important are shows like the Bennington Car Show for the classic car world?

WJ: Bennington is important for a couple of reasons. First is the vendors -- a lot of our vendors sell old parts, some of which are what they call new old stock, which means it came from a car dealer and was never put on a car, but it's new and original. Some of it is OEM -- original equipment manufactured -- which means it's manufactured to the specifications of the cars. Twenty five years ago you absolutely had to go to a flea market, but today you can look at catalogs online. I have three different locations where I can find Ford truck parts, and for the most part they're newly manufactured.

Another thing that is happening is that a lot of people are buying completed cars, whereas years ago you built it yourself, or you had a close friend who you relied on to help. Now, some of the vendors will sell you all the pieces you need to build a car -- a rolling chassis with tires and wheels of your choice, or even a manufactured steel body for a ‘32 Ford. They say there are more ‘32-'34 Fords on the road today than Henry ever built.

BWSV: What are you looking forward to at the show?

WJ: I'll be spending most of my time directing traffic and getting cars into the places they belong, and on Sunday I do the trophy awards, but when I go to a regular car show I look forward to meeting and greeting friends who share my hobby. It is a very social group of people.

We're also trying to encourage tuner cars, which are usually foreign cars -- Asian or German cars. Those are really the hot rods of today, because they'll either re-work the motors or transmissions or put in a different motor just like we used to do in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

If you go ...

What: Bennington Car Show

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday, Sept. 12 to 14

Where: Willow Park, Bennington

Admission: $5 on Friday (vendors, no cars), $8 Saturday/ Sunday, children under 12 get in free

Info: benningtoncarshow.com


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