About five years ago, Pete Bradford stumbled upon a 1938 Lincoln Zephyr convertible coupe, sitting useless in a field in Uruguay. The poor vehicle had seen better days. It was rusted, broken-down and missing numerous parts.
Bradford purchased the coupe and had it shipped to the East Coast and transported via train to his home in central California.
What: Southern Oregon Rod & Custom Show
When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
Where: Jackson County Fairgrounds and Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point
Tickets: $8, $2 for ages 6 to 12 and free for ages 5 and younger
Back home, the car aficionado recruited Mark Willis and Bob Stewart of Mark Willis Custom Painting in Grants Pass to help him restore the classic.
"It looked like a wreck," Willis admits. "Old parts were laying in it. There was half a grill hanging off it ... and the floors were gone."
Over the past two-and-a-half years, Willis and Stewart have invested several thousand hours into transforming the piece of scrap metal into a sleek, black beauty.
"Sometimes, it's just downright hard work and long, grueling hours, and other times, when you're building a custom piece and it all works out, there's satisfaction in seeing it all come together," Willis says.
The car will show for the first time at the 35th annual Southern Oregon Rod & Custom Show Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 18-19, at the Jackson County Fairgrounds and Expo in Central Point. The event, hosted by Rogue Valley Street Rods, is a fundraiser for the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center of Oregon Health & Science University to benefit local children diagnosed with developmental diseases.
Last year, the show raised $28,000, putting its grand total at $470,000. This year, the car club hopes to break the $500,000 mark, says marketing director Ron Peil.
In addition to Bradford's Zephyr, there will be more than 120 other immaculate customs, classics, hot rods and Mark Daley's award-winning choppers.
Bob Sorensen of Salem will show his red, 1951 Nash Airflyte Statesman Super sedan, commonly known as a "Super." Sorensen installed a 2003 Corvette ZO6 engine, a General Motors Co. 4L60E transmission and a 10-gauge skirt, which hides the tires so the car appears to hover.
New this year are four riding lawn mowers customized for racing and four locally owned tuners, imported cars customized for drifting. One, a 1992 Nissan with a 2011, 503-horsepower Corvette motor, has never lost a drifting competition and, in 2006, won the National Autocross Championship for its class.
Both Bradford and Willis will be at the show to take credit for the Zephyr. Willis replaced the car's gutless V-12, 110-horsepower engine with a Viper V-10 engine; converted the car from left- to right-hand drive; custom built wood-grain trim, console and steering wheel; and updated amenities to include power windows, air conditioning, air suspension, fully adjustable BMW seats and even a digital camera for backing up.
Bradford actually drives his cars, so he wanted all the "comfortable goodies," Willis says.
According to an article Willis read, there were only 600 convertible Zephyrs ever made, and of that, only 1 percent remain.
"This car was No. 10 off the assembly line according to the tag," Willis says.
Trophies will be awarded for Best of Show, Participants' Choice, Peoples' Choice, Mayor's Choice, CDRC Choice by this year's poster person, Long Distance Award and more. The awards ceremony will be at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Along with more than 70 car-themed vendors, there will be a raffle for a 350 Chevy engine, a 350 Turbo transmission, a $500 gift certificate for Advantage Tire, a $500 gift certificate for Sherm's Food 4 Less and Thunderbird Markets, a Hellgate excursion with dinner for four and an assortment of other smaller prizes. Kid-friendly activities, including a youth bike drawing, valve-cover races and a coloring contest, also will be available.
Tickets are $8, $2 for ages 6 to 12 and free for ages 5 and younger.
For more information, call 408-203-0999 or see www.roguevalleystreetrods.com.