Firebird – Pontiac’s

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1970 Pontiac Firebird - High Level, Alberta 1

1970 Pontiac Firebird – High Level, Alberta 1

1970 Pontiac Firebird - High Level, Alberta 2

1970 Pontiac Firebird – High Level, Alberta 2

1970 Pontiac Firebird - High Level, Alberta 3

1970 Pontiac Firebird – High Level, Alberta 3

1970 Pontiac Firebird - High Level, Alberta 4

1970 Pontiac Firebird – High Level, Alberta 4

At last week’s Show and Shine, in drizzling and spitting rain, my son stuck with me as my wife and daughter left for the warmth of home and school. As I scope out my next photo, Liam nudges me – “This one here is the one I’d go with, Dad.” The car he’s pointing me towards is low key, a General Motors vehicle, best thought of as companion or cousin to the silver and green 1967 Camaro SS Sport Coupes that sit at this Show and Shine. A 1970 Pontiac Firebird nestles between the silver, 1967 Camaro SS and the newer (by fifty years) green rendering of the Chevrolet Camaro SS … Transformers edition. Brown, the styling element that distinguishes this Firebird from all others is the hood scoop meant to drive air toward the filtered air intake of a 350 ci V8 engine, the same engine my father had in our green, 1969 Canadian-built Pontiac Parisienne … I know something about this engine. Moreover, this same car was the vehicle of my neighbor’s son, Derrick, who handy with tools and engines worked the mechanical elements of a 400 ci V8 and drive train to perfection before taking his Pontiac Firebird into the paint shop to add Turquoise colour to the body. Through two years (in my middle teen years) I was able to mark the transformation of his vehicle from my parent’s living room window in Edmonton … awestruck to see the vehicle in its final rendering. Understatement and power, my son is telling me about flying under the radar … enjoyably … with a muscle car. It’s the first time he’s told me about a car he’d like to own. Good schtuff!

Listening to – John Mayer’s ‘Route 66,’ Erick Morillo & Sacha Baren Cohen’s ‘I Like to Move It,’ Sheryl Crow’s ‘Steve McQueen,’ and Jason Mraz’ ‘Sleeping to Dream.’

Quote to Inspire – “I fell in love with taking pictures, with wandering around finding things. To me it feels like a kind of performance. The picture is a document of that performance.” Alec Soth

Predecessor Pontiac

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1928 Pontiac - High Level, Alberta

1928 Pontiac – High Level, Alberta

Saturday, a day for Northstar Dodge Chrysler to host High Level and region’s local show and shine, a day overcast with rain drizzling over each car, beading upon protected finishes of silicon and carnauba. With such weather it fits that this Northstar Dodge Chrysler dealership is situated on Rainbow Boulevard.

At 11:00 a.m., vintage car owners/collectors gather, cars being organized according to timeline – oldest to newest. These car buffs have had time to wake, wash and chamois their prized vehicles. The day becomes one of chatter, car-owner to car-owner, driver to driver, enthusiast to enthusiast. Within all the coffee, talk and bluster, an engine’s patter catches my ear, the sound sharp like a newly built V8, but the sound has a lighter, tubular aspect that is higher pitched – a 1928 Pontiac sedan arrives, its owner guiding it carefully into the spot allocated for the oldest vehicle at this show and shine.

I’m impressed by its colour, shape and current integrity. The radiator cap is the head of an Indian (Pontiac) and the top curve of the radiator has something that looks like two pennies, something I’ll have to research. I walk over to listen and watch as the owner demonstrates what he refers to as the vehicle’s air conditioning – he moves a crank high above the steering wheel, to the driver’s right; the crank moves the windscreen up and down to let air rush into the car, a mechanical innovation that makes sense … something that begins this day’s education about cars. I get a kick out of what this car represents – this Pontiac sedan precedes my father’s birth by four years, it precedes the second world war by eleven.

This 1928 Pontiac sedan is one of three Pontiacs at the show and shine – there’s a brown 1970 Firebird and an orange 1970 Lemans with decals (something that would have had a specialized appellation, ‘The Judge’). These latter vehicles are a year newer than the two door, green, Canadian-made, 1969 Pontiac Parisienne, the family car that my brothers and I grew up in and the car we shared in high school; the lines on each are recognizably Pontiac.

Listening to – The Verve’s ‘Lucky Man,’ Coldplay’s ‘Up in Flames,’ Snow Patrol’s ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are,’ and John Mayer’s ‘The Queen of California.’

Quote to Inspire – “The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.” Susan Meiselas

Dodges, Pontiac and Ford – All Start

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38 Ford 1 - Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 1 – Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 2 - Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 2 – Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 3 - Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford 3 – Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford Grill Work - Lamont, Alberta

38 Ford Grill Work – Lamont, Alberta

My mind seems to be within the years tonight, thinking back to Ardrossan, out east from Edmonton, to Ivan’s country estate, an expansive, one-level home set on an acreage lot with a shop big enough to accommodate a semi-tractor unit (or perhaps two). Within the shop there’d be a mocha Chrysler New Yorker with black vinyl roof, a white Dodge 100 shortbox (his father’s) with a camper on top, a gold and brown Dodge Mirada and an old, old, blue Ford tractor with blade behind it to grade the snow and gravel.

On a Saturday or Sunday in the eighties I’d bring his daughter (now my wife) out to the acreage – she’d spend time with her mother in the house and I’d spend time out in the shop chatting – looking at the world with a sideways glance with Ivan. We’d reason our way through a few things. We’d work on the brakes for a motorbike for his son or replace a piston or piston ring on his skidoo. And, we talk all the way through it. He’d have an old, old Coke Machine in the corner stocked with eight or nine flats of beer … sodas, he called them … and in the course of an evening a chunk of a flat would disappear.

Outside his shop, one time, we ran oil or power steering fluid through the running carburetor of my father’s 69 Pontiac Parisienne. The engine coughed and coughed and sputtered; it may have died. And, then with some skilled cranking of the starter Ivan brought it back to life with a roar – the carburetor now clean and optimized. I’m sure he was having some fun with me … seeing where my worry and trust would lie.

A few years later he set me to work polishing a four-door, cream coloured Ford Gran Torino, a vehicle our family bought from our uncle in Rimbey. This was the four door version of the 76 Ford Gran Torino made more notable by the Starsky and Hutch television series in the late seventies. With our Ford and with a professional polisher, rubbing compound and glaze I worked on the car for four of five hours. Ivan had me wash down the engine in addition to washing the exterior. When it came time to drive home the Gran Torino wouldn’t start. And, when I went up to the house I found that while my girlfriend (now wife) and her mother were watching television, he was sleeping in his chair. Not wanting to disturb him, I went back down to the shop, hooked up some booster cables between the Ford and his Dodge Ram, not knowing anything about reversed polarities on the Dodges of the day.

Hmmh … Now two vehicles wouldn’t start.

I had to roust Ivan from his sleep and let him know that in addition to my not being able to start my vehicle, I now couldn’t start his. The language was colourful, yet mindful of not wanting to go too, too far. He seemed to know within minutes that water under the distributor cap of the Ford was the problem; we dried it with a rag. And where there’d be an electrical etching in the top of the distributor cap, he knew to take a pencil and draw two lines, one on each side of the etching, perpendicular to it; that limited the problem. We boosted the Ford … still using his Dodge, his way. The Ford started. I’m sure he was happy to get me on my way. And, he was certain that he’d have his truck running within moments after I left. Ivan was a Dodge man.

Ivan was one of the first people I’d heard refer to rust on a vehicle as it being cancered out or having cancer … something he knew how to remedy in an autobody shop. The Ford image presented here is one found a few miles from the southern gate of Elk Island National park; the nearest towns would probably be Lamont or Bruderheim. To some extent the Ford has its share of cancer; but, in totality there is more there of the car than not there, making it an excellent candidate for restoration. The vehicle has had me thinking back to Ivan and the early days of dating my wife. 🙂

Listening to – ‘The End of Illness’ by David B. Agus, MD, a book looking at a systems approach to good health … it’s about understanding your body’s system and how it works, for you.

Quote to Inspire – “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.” – Anonymous