Amid a bevy of Bel Airs, Corvette convertibles and marvelously restored Mustangs, Ed Snyder of Jacksonville's patinaed GMC Suburban was a different breed of classic, though cherished the same as the pride and joy of hundreds of others.
The teal blue paint on Snyder's rig has faded, and salt from the harsh Kansas winters where his father drove it for 49 years left a rusty tinge in places, but Snyder said he wouldn't change a thing on the truck, which has been in his family since May 28, 1965, when his father took delivery in Wichita, Kansas. For Snyder, it's a memory machine.
"It's only original once," Snyder said. "That's the way it's looked since 1965 — it's just acquired some battle scars over the years."
If every car has a story to tell, there were some 650 of them at the Medford Cruise Show 'n Shine Saturday morning at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park, including a record 500 cars from model years before 1979, according to Medford Cruise Vice President Bill Maentz.
Don Thumler, 90, of Central Point, showcased three in that category: a Ford hot rod of his and two angular Pontiac coupes in his family for four decades. The white 1973 Grand Am coupe, complete with red-and-blue tape stripes and burgundy interior, was particularly important to him.
"He bought it new for his bride on her 24th anniversary," said Thumler's niece, Jeannie Baker of Medford. Baker said she helped Thumler take delivery.
In 1973, the car was a complete surprise for his wife, Orpha, Thumler said. Don remembered Orpha telling him, "I seen the car I want."
"Yeah I see it, but I don't like it," Don remembers telling her, then secretly ordered one just for her. He traded in his GTO for it.
By the time Dean & Taylor Pontiac called and said the Grand Am was in, Thumler said he forgot he'd ordered it. He remembers worrying because his bank account didn't have quite enough to cover the cost of the car. Indicative of the friendlier era when the coupe was built, the bank told him they'd work it out after he bought the car.
"Go write a check so we can see it!" Thumler remembers them saying.
Another offbeat classic at the Show 'n Shine was Scott Martin of Ashland's all-original 1967 International Harvester 908 pickup.
"Like a lot of cars, they're unusual, but they're not particularly valuable — except when I need to haul something," Martin said.
Martin, who described himself as a "car-head," said he's typically used it as a work truck in the roughly 15 years he's owned it, but felt the truck should be celebrated after five decades of service.
"It's its first beauty pageant," Martin said.
Maentz attributed the record number of classic cars shown at the Show 'n Shine to the show's efforts to pique different car cultures' interests — be they low riders, newer sports cars, drift enthusiasts, as well as the core rod, custom and muscle car segments. He admitted, however, that "weather does help," pointing to clear skies and temperatures in the 80s.
"We're trying to appeal to anybody interested in motorsports," Maentz said.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.