An enduring love for vintage cars and the community

1963 Ford Fairlane, best of show.

Who can deny that electric-powered vehicles, two and four-wheeled, are the future? Quiet, no exhaust fumes, simplicity itself. Just the motor, no transmission, no checking the oil or coolant, nothing really to “tune up,” just plug ‘er in overnight and everything is ready to go in the morning. So we hear.

But here’s the deal. Some of us like a vehicle that makes some noise and generates the smell of fuel being turned into horsepower. Some of us like to check the oil and make sure the coolant level is sufficient. And then, there’s the tune-up ritual for the devotees of internal combustion engines.

Getting out the socket set, removing the spark plugs, yes a banged knuckle or two will occur, gapping the plugs, installing them, one or two of which will be a real bearing, and, for the really vintage horseless carriages, replacing and setting the points and condenser. Then comes the big moment.

Key in the ignition, gas pedal to the floor to set the choke, key in the ignition, gently turn the key … and the engine leaps into life. Fixed! Take ‘er for a short spin, and oh yeah this baby is running better, a lot better.

Now, if you aren’t a motorhead, most of the above probably is meaningless to you, but still, even non-motorheads can appreciate a fine old automobile. Both types have a prime opportunity this coming Friday and Saturday to “ooh” and “ahh” at some of Detroit’s finest at the annual Gunnison Car show.

“For 34 years the Gunnison Car Club has had many leaders, members, events and successes,” said Gunnison Car Club President Zak Trafton. “The enduring factor has been an extremely supportive community that asks again and again for the annual Gunnison Car Show, a passion project every year for the members of the club who put it on.”

A passion project that taps into the passion motorheads have for “three deuces (two-barrel carburetors) and a four-speed and a 389,” for instance. But the show serves a higher role for our community as well.

“Over the years I’ve been a member of the club we’ve raised more than $100,000 for various Gunnison Valley nonprofits,” said Club Member Gary Shondeck.

This year’s list of funding recipients includes the American Legion, which will use their share to install an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bathroom at its Legion Park meeting hall to complement the Legion’s recently completed ADA-compliant entrance ramp.

Another nonprofit on the grant list includes the Wonderland Nature School located on 1498 W. Tomichi Ave., near the Gunnison River and the Lazy K Nature Path. Wonderland’s mission is to provide “bilingual learning environments that serve the diverse needs of children aged 3 months to 13 years,” and to “provide age-appropriate early learning opportunities which cultivate meaningful inquiry, eager curiosity and lifelong learning.”

Other recipients include the Gunnison Country Food Pantry, Coldharbor Institute, the Pioneer Museum, and the Gunnison Valley Animal Welfare League.

“The whole point of the Gunnison Car Club and the Gunnison Car Show is to give back to the community,” Trafton said. “Every year the donations of the proceeds from the show go to local and highly deserving non-profits that make Gunnison a better place to live. Love for our community is our primary motivation and what keeps us going to the monthly meetings and social gatherings where we plan for next year’s show.”

The club members expect to see 250 or more entrants for Saturday’s show. About 70% of the entrants will be traveling to Gunnison to share their love for their vehicles with the valley’s residents and tourists. This year’s show is open to cars of any vintage, from brand-new to 100 years old. If you love your car, you’re welcome to enter, Shondeck said.

Preceding the show on Friday from 5-9 pm the City of Gunnison will close to traffic the first three blocks of Main Street. More than 100 vehicles will be on display, and a disc jockey will spin tunes from the 50s and 60s. Street dancing anyone?

There’s more. On Saturday, car show attendees can mosey across the highway to the High Octane Art Show in Legion Park.

(Paul Wayne Foreman can be reached at

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