Saturday, June 4, 2016

Welcome to the Cadillac Ranch! The Fleetwood Country Cruize-In, London, Ontario, June 4, 2016

Considered to be Canada's largest outdoor car show, the two-day Fleetwood Country Cruize In began with a handful of Steve Plunkett's friends with a cooler of Coca Cola and has mushroomed into an extravaganza for car nuts every June at Plunkett's expansive estate (which includes a private golf course) in London, Ontario.  Over the ten editions of the event, where you can see everything from movie cars to hot rods, to current exotics to Mr. Plunkett's own astonishing collection of Cadillacs, more than $1.4 million has been raised for local charities.

Leaving Ottawa early on June 3, we cruised westwards to London, which is 630 kms away.  After navigating the usual terrible 401 traffic across Toronto, we had smooth sailing and stayed for the night at simple accommodations at Western University and enjoyed some craft beer in the somewhat depressed-looking central business district of the city. 

The next morning we headed to the Plunkett Estate and I was not sure what would happen but we were directed not to visitor parking but into the grounds themselves: we were part of the show!

1905 Cadillac

Ford Mustang Fastback, a clone of the famous Shelby GT350H used as a rental vehicle by Hertz

Chevrolet stake truck

An Allard roadster, a new vehicle built by Sidney Allard's son in Montreal, powered by Cadillac

Ford Model A Roadster

1931 LaSalle

1949 Mercury "lead sled" hot rod

1938 LaSalle

One of many Thunderbirds present: a 1957 model

The crowd loves the Amphicar demonstrations
Tall guys clowning around...

Views from the building housing Steven Plunkett's 1950s-1970s Cadillacs

A special display of 1950s and 1960s travel trailers

The famous "Mr. Beep," the child safety education car that was subject of a popular restoration program
Jade Idol II, which began as a 1957 Ford and was completed in 2008

The remarkable custom car designer and builder, Gene Winfield, who will turn 90 in June 2017 and was happy to sign everything at the Cruize In.  Jade Idol II was one of his projects
Steven Plunkett's Carriage House, where the cream of his Cadillac collection resides, highlighting coachbuilt vehicles and some of the most beautiful Cadillacs built.  Most are from the 1930s but there are also some very rare prototypes from the late 1940s/early 1950s.

Mammoth 1934 Cadillac V16

Not a Camaro RS but a barbecue unit!

Model T Ford

Freshly-restored 1959 Chevrolet Corvette

A "Service Car," an area of collection in its own right

1956 Continental Mk II, often mistakenly referred to as a "Lincoln Continental Mk II," but actually the product of a different (and short-lived) Ford Division that was intended to produce a fine hand-built car to compete with Cadillac's Eldorado of the same era.  It was believed Ford lost money on every one of the 3,044 cars built
One of the houses built on the Plunkett Estate
We had a great time at the show and were able to get in close to see the cars on this beautiful day.  I had the chance to talk for a while with Steve Plunkett himself about his Cadillacs; a very approachable person who clearly loves to see people enjoy his cars and who has been very generous to allow several thousand cars to drive on his lawns for two days!

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