They say the clothes make the man. But sometimes, it’s the car that makes the man — or woman. Whether it’s a tricked-out 2006 Toyota, a biodiesel-powered 1980s Volkswagen, or a stately 1950s Chevrolet, there’s something elemental about putting the keys in the ignition and heading out for a drive in your car — your favorite, your indulgence, your baby.
Both Bangor and Brewer will play host to hundreds of car lovers this weekend, with the Wheels on the Waterfront Bangor Car Show on Saturday, and the Brewer Days Car Show on Sunday. Both events are free and open to the public for those interested in seeing some vintage vehicles and some seriously souped-up newer cars. In the spirit of the weekend, we’re celebrating cars and car owners by chatting with a few Maine motorheads about their passion for wheels.
Bruce Johnson — 1941 Red Willys Coupe (reproduction)
Hometown: Greenfield Township.
Occupation: Firefighter for the Bangor Fire Department.
How long have you had your car? Since 2005.
Why did you want this particular car? I saw a TV movie when I was 15 called “Hot Rod: Nobody Beats a Hemi Willy’s,” and it was all about this car. I said to myself, ‘Someday, I’m going to have a car like that.’ I used to do stock car racing at Speedway 95, and when I stopped that and sold that car, I decided I was finally going to do it. I bought the body from a company in Pennsylvania, and it took me five years to complete the rest of it.
How fast have you gotten it to go? It accelerates like you wouldn’t believe. It gets up to 100 mph pretty quickly. When you stomp on the gas, it gets pretty ugly.
What’s the best part about driving it? I have to admit, I get some looks when I go down the street. You just don’t see cars like this on the road. And it really hauls.
What’s the one car you’d love to own someday? I’ve got it already. Why would I want another?
Paul Von Till — 1991 Cadillac Allante
Occupation: Retired mechanical engineer and former professor at Rutgers University.
How long have you had your car? Since 2003.
Why this one? It was the first two-passenger roadster Cadillac ever made, and they’ve never made one like it. It was only in production from 1987 to 1993, and it was one of the first cars to be totally computerized. It was experimental for its time. The chasse was built in Detroit, but the body was built in Italy.
How fast have you gotten it to go? I can get it up to 150.
What was your first-ever car? A 1934 Packard 12-cylinder.
How many cars have you owned in your life? Oh, easily 1,000. I’ve had Lamborghinis and Jaguars. Anything mechanical fascinates me. I’ve had around 48 motorcycles, too. I’ve sold most of them at this point.
What’s your favorite car? Probably one of my motorcycles. I bought a 1953 Indian Chief when I got out of the Korean War. It was $600 then, and I still have it. I also have a 1951 Vincent Black Shadow.
What’s the one car you’d love to own someday? A Bugatti. But they’re $2 million. I could have had one back in 1956 for $1,400. At least I got to drive one once, though!
Mark Maybery — 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe (reproduction)
Occupation: Turbine manufacturing at GE Energy.
How long have you had your car? About eight or nine years.
Why did you want this one? Because nobody else has got one. The more common one is the Shelby Cobra, but this is the oddball one. This is the version that they only made six of, in 1964 and ’65. If I had an actual original one, my entire family and me could retire right now.
Why did you want this one? I’ve wanted one since I was 13. Well, this one, or a Jaguar XKE.
What was your first-ever car? A Volkswagen Super Beetle. Yeah, not my favorite. The first car I had that I really loved was a ’72 Torino.
What are you working on in your garage now? I’ve got a replica 1969 Lola T70. I’m in acquisition phase for that one right now. I’m gathering parts. I’m working on my wife’s car too, a ’52 Chevy.
How many cars have you owned over the years? Lost count at 75. I don’t even know how many anymore. Probably closer to 100. I’ve got five Model T’s at my house right now.
Andrew Alley — 1997 Dodge Neon
Occupation: Mechanic at Foreign Car Center in Hampden, student at Eastern Maine Community College.
How long have you had your car? Almost 11 years. I’m nowhere close to being done with it.
What are some of the modifications you’ve done to it? I put in a new stereo system, and last year I installed these vertical doors, and that sets it apart from everyone. I don’t know anyone else in Maine that has all four. I rebuilt the interior by myself. Learned how to use a sewing machine and sewed all the vinyl, made my own seats and the floor. Painted it myself. Everything has been custom-done by me over the past 10 years.
Why a Neon? Well, I’m a big Dodge person. I got this car when I went to college in Florida and I needed something new. This is what I could afford. Over the years, I’ve been doing little things here and there to make it stand out.
What other cars do you have? I have a 1990 Eagle Talon five-speed turbo that my family gave to me. I rebuilt that one from the ground up, too. That’s my daily driver.
What would be your dream car? That’s easy. A Dodge Viper. I’ve wanted one ever since they first came out in 1993. I got to sit in one in a store in Florida. Never got to drive one, but if I could, I’d really be tickled pink.
Dick and Pat Leture — 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air
Occupation: Dick owns Leture’s Paving and Sealcoating; Pat works for Magazines Inc.
How long have you had your car? Twenty years.
Where did you get it? We hadn’t even seen it when we bought it. We always wanted one. Dick flew down to Georgia and drove it back in the middle of winter with summer tires on. He was supposed to take the coastal route back through Maine, but he ended up going through mountains in a major snowstorm. It was really scary. It took him three hours to get from Waterville to Bangor. He got home at midnight, went to bed, and first thing in the morning, the car was already in 100 million pieces in the garage. It took three years to fix up.
What other cars do you have? We have six total. My daughter is 20, and she has a lowrider truck that she’s bringing to the car show. We have a street rod. Every couple of years we work on a new project.
There are still a lot more men than women who are really into cars. Do you ever feel like an outsider? I think there’s still this big assumption that women don’t know anything about cars. My daughter was in an auto parts store and was looking for a part, and the guy behind the counter actually asked her, ‘Do you know what that is?’ She was buying it for a 1970 Cord, and there were only 400 of them ever made. Of course she knows what it is! You see all these new Camaros and Mustangs, and look at who’s driving them? Women. I love cars, always have. We’re a car family.
Registration for the Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors Bureau-sponsored Bangor Car Show is available on-site that morning on the Bangor Waterfront; the cost is $15. The show lasts from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; for information, visit www.bangorcarshow.com. The Brewer Days Car Show, sponsored by Boy Scouts Troop 15, will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday in the Brewer Auditorium parking lot. Registration is $5, and is from 9 to 11 a.m. on site.