Court Street Cruise triggers nostalgia for bygone era

This 1956 Chevy Bel-Air was one of dozens of classic cars that showed up for the 23rd annual Court Street Cruise that was held last Saturday at City Park in Weiser. Owned by Don Littlefield, the vintage muscle car-era automobile has a ‘Hugger Orange’ and ‘Wimbledon White’ color scheme, not to mention a small block 350 c.u. motor that has a top speed of 120 miles per hour. Littlefield restored it with his late daughter, Sunny Littlefield about seven years ago. Photo by Philip A. Janquart

Vada Grijalva, 6, of Payette, checks out a 1954 Mercury Monterey ‘Sun Valley’ during the Court Street Cruise on Saturday, Aug. 5 at City Park in Weiser. The event draws many classics from around the area. Photo by Philip A. Janquart

A couple of curious visitors at the 23rd Court Street Cruise held at Weiser’s City Park on Saturday check out Christy and John Hoff’s 1928 Ford Speedster, which won first place in the Rodders Choice category. Photo by Philip A. Janquart
Philip A. Janquart
When Meridian resident Larry Owen bought his 1967 Chevy Malibu, he knew it would take time to build it into what he envisioned for the car.
 He hadn’t counted on it taking almost 30 years, but now that it is finished, and though it has a few modern upgrades, Owen has a fine example of classic muscle car horsepower.
 “I’ve had the car since 1992, but I didn’t do a lot to it until I retired,” he said on Saturday during the 23rd annual Court Street Cruise car show held at City Park in Weiser.
 The event brings in some of the best examples of classic car design and engineering from around the Treasure Valley and beyond. Proceeds from the event go to fund a $1,000 tech/automotive scholarship for a graduating Weiser High School senior.
 Owen, a retired RV technician, replaced the Malibu’s original 283 c.u. (cubic inch) motor with a Chevy 350 that churns out 400 horsepower and 400-foot pounds of torque. He put in a five-speed manual transmission, installed disc brakes, and added air conditioning, which required installing a compressor under the hood and re-routing the serpentine belt configuration.
 It all takes time, which may be why many classic car owners seem to be retirees. It also takes lots of money.
 “Oh God! I don’t even want to go there,” said Owen when asked about his total investment. “I’ve got three folders at home full of receipts.”
 The motor alone, a manufacturer “crate” kit, cost $6,000.
 “You put a little money into it every year, just chipping away at it,” he said of his labor of love.
 But it’s the same story with most classic car owners, many who first must find what they want, in varying conditions and sometimes located hundreds and even thousands of miles across the country. The trick is to purchase it at an affordable price, followed by a sustained, patient committment to keep working on it, year after year.
 Larry Tabbert, of Weiser, who brought his purple 1971 Challenger on Saturday, knows the routine well. He has a total of five classic cars, all of them “Mopars,” including a 1967 Coronet and a Duster.
 “It’s still not finished,” he said of the Challenger. “I got this car in Nevada years ago and I’ve been working on it and working on it. They take forever.”
 The Challenger has a 400 c.u. block that Tabbert bored out to a 451, with a 440 crankshaft. It generates over 450 horsepower and, at 6,000 rpm, has a top speed of 163 miles per hour. 
 He isn’t sure how fast it can go from zero to 60.
 “I haven’t tried it out yet,” he said. “I’ll probably take it over to Firebird [Raceway] one of these days and make a run, but it has a whole bunch of goodies in it.”
 Part of rebuilding classic cars for many owners is bringing them to car shows like the Court Street Cruise to show off the fruits of their labor.
 Don Littlefield, of Eagle, has an added motivation for showing his 1956 Hugger Orange and Wimbledon White Chevy Bel-Air, two-door hardtop, which sports a small block 350 and has a top speed of 120 miles per hour.
 “My daughter and I bought this car about 10 or 12 years ago and started working on restoring it; We worked on it for two years straight, day and night,” he said. “I lost her, Sunny, about six years ago; she passed away. She showed the car for the first three or four years.”
 Littlefield, also a retiree, is holding the seventh annual Sunny’s Rally Memorial Car Show Oct. 7 at Kiwanis Park in New Plymouth.  
 You can call Don at (208) 989-4678 for more information. Proceeds go toward two, $2,500 scholarships. Both of last year’s winners will be attending Northwest Lineman College in Meridian, with plans to go to work for Idaho Power, according to Littlefield.
 One of the Court Street Cruise class winners from last year, Jim Taylor, of Nampa, once again showed his 1954 Mercury Monterey “Sun Valley,” which has a number of unique features, including a red-tinted plexiglass roof top, console controls designed after period bomber aircraft, mounted spotlights on both the driver and passenger side dash, and an optional “Continental Kit” spare tire configuration mounted at the rear of the car.
 Taylor, who retired from the City of Kuna as its public works director, bought the car in Leavenworth, Wash. for $22,000.
 “They only made 5,000 of these,” Taylor said. “I got a good deal because I had it appraised at $35,000. The guy that had it before me had it for 50 years and then gave it to his daughter. She put it in storage for five years and then decided she wasn’t going to drive it. I had been looking for one of these, so I was thrilled to find it.”
 Weiser resident and director of the Weiser Architectural Preservation Committee, Tony Edmondson, showed his 1963 Dodge Custom 880 station wagon, of which only 1,647 were ever produced and had a list price of $3,292.
 Edmondson said he purchased the car decades ago from the grandson of the original owner.
 “He shared stories with us about how grandma would take them to Disney Land in it,” Edmondson said. “When she took them to the swimming pool, she made sure they would put a towel on the back seat even though it’s vinyl, and it wasn’t going to hurt anything.”
 Saturday’s winners:
 People’s Choice - Doug and Helen Deines, 1955 Ford F-100; Rodders Choice - Christy and John Hoff – 1928 Ford Speedster; Cruiser’s Choice – Bill and Delores Lawson – 1948 Ford F-1.
 The winners’ cars will be featured on next year’s Court Street Cruise t-shirt.


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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