It took six years of searching, but an unlikely rolling heirloom is back in the Alonzo family.
Saturday afternoon was Mike Alonzo of White City’s first time showing his cream-colored 1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park for the 34th annual Medford Cruise Show-and-Shine, but far from the car-pickup’s first showing.
The Ford car-pickup hybrid, which belonged to Mike’s grandfather Tony Alonzo, was Mike’s introduction to the Medford Cruise starting two decades ago. A collection of Medford cruise magnets behind its front seat go back to 1999.
“If anybody knew my grandfather, they knew this Ranchero,” Alonzo said. “It was here almost every year until he passed away.”
Tony drove the vehicle every day for more than four decades, but when Tony’s health started to fade in 2013, he sold it at a time when Mike couldn’t buy it. Mike feared it was out of his family’s hands forever.
In March of this year, however, he got the keys. How his luck changed started with a Craigslist post, but it’s not quite a short story.
He made contact with an owner three years ago, but it took finessing and patience, according to Mike. A deal fell through about that time, but in time the owner’s son “realized how much it meant to the family,” according to Mike.
By the time the Eugene area owner was ready to sell, the man drove anything but a hard bargain.
“I offered him $8,000 and he was like, ‘How about seven?’” Mike said.
Mike sees his grandfather in the vehicle, that started as an unremarkable Pacific Gas & Electric work truck before its gradual restoration starting in the late 1990s. Tony originally bought the pickup for $525 on Dec. 13, 1971.
“My grandfather was always too practical to buy something flashy,” Mike said. “This was his great expense in life.”
The Ranchero was just one of more than 650 cars shown this year, which Medford Cruise Association president Bill Maentz called the event’s biggest number “by far.” The record before was 520 cars, but this year some show-n-shiners came from as far away as Nebraska.
Reasons for the strong turnout included clear weather, efforts to include newer vehicles in a new Friday night cruise before the main classic car event Saturday, and the appearance of automotive celebrity Dennis Gage, the handlebar-mustachioed host of the Motor Trend TV network series “My Classic Car.”
“To get your car featured on national TV is kinda fun,” Maentz said.
Maentz didn’t have an estimate for funds raised, but last year the Medford Cruise raised $49,000 for local youth programs. Over its more than three decades the nonprofit has raised more than half a million dollars.
“If we’ve kept the expenses down, we’ll probably break another record,” Maentz said.