As the rumble of V8 engines and the "why, why, why, why" of Del Shannon's "Runaway" filled Fichtner-Mainwaring Park Saturday morning, Jason Friedrich of Central Point smiled as he showed off his purple and black 1983 Oldsmobile lowrider.
"You relax, you're in your own mindset," Friedrich said of life at show & shines. "I love this hobby."
The 31st annual Medford Cruise event drew nearly 400 cars to the park Saturday, pulling varying car cultures together. Most of the cars gleamed, but an exception was Hurley Morehead's 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, which still showed remnants of the black Krylon he'd painted the car 17 years ago.
"When I was 19, I rattle-canned it," Morehead said, adding that he plans to clearcoat the Bug to maintain its patina and replace its motor. Parts for air-cooled Volkswagens are still plentiful, but they're no longer inexpensive, Morehead said.
Two years ago at the Medford show, Morehead was among the founding members — along with his brother George Morehead and Elijah Haag — of Rögue VW Kultüre, a car club that has since spread as far north as Seattle. He'd recently driven the VW, equipped with a swamp cooler on the side, original German roof rack and trailer-mounted keg tap, to Woodburn and back.
"We hit just about every show," Morehead said, including traditional car shows and "rat rod" shows.
For Friedrich and the Cutlass Coupe he drives, the Medford Cruise is one of 15 shows he — along with the Familia Unida car club — will attend from Portland to Redding. Friedrich said he helped others who had to work Saturday display their cars and watch their rides.
"If there's a show, we try to be there," Friedrich said.
Members of Friedrich's club showcased eight lowriders and multiple custom bikes at the park. Friedrich said it's common in lowrider culture to start with a bike, then move on to a common GM car from the 1970s or '80s, before finally moving on to a classic — Friedrich's dream is a 1953 Chevy pickup.
Friedrich said Familia Unida is a family-friendly organization that seeks to portray lowrider culture positively.
"I don't think we could commit crimes in these cars," Friedrich joked, pointing out the unique paint colors and weight of the hydraulic systems.
Friedrich has spent thousands on his Cutlass two-door coupe, which he nicknamed "Loca-Lola." Inside the trunk were four car batteries and two hydraulic systems that raised the front and rear axles independently. He recently spent nearly $3,000 refurbishing the interior body panels to match the paint, but the car is still a work in progress. Friedrich placed a poster of a woman with "Day of the Dead" face paint and dark purple tones in front of the Olds, in part because it matched the glittering black and purple paint, and also to draw attention away from a blemish on the car's front caused by a fender-bender.
Work on some cars at the show spanned generations. Mike Squire of Medford sat in a lawn chair near a 1951 MG TD roadster, which has been in the family since his now-87-year-old father, Don Squire of Central Point, bought it in 1960. For much of Mike Squire's youth, the roadster was in pieces.
"It just moved from house to house," he said. "I remember the fenders being in the rafters."
Mike's son repainted the car as a high school senior project in the late 1990s, giving it charming white with green accents. Mike remembers the challenges of fitting the inconsistent body panels back together on the roadster's original wooden frame, but today it's Don's pride and joy, even if it requires a little maintenance now and again.
"It's a British car, so it needs a little tinkering," Mike said.
Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.