<< Go Back

As published on July 12, 2007 . THE DETROIT NEWS . Detroit, MI

Classic cars help spread Gospel at Detroit's Greater Grace Temple

By Jenny King / Specialist to The Detroit News

Around noon on the first Saturday in July, the magnificent, spotless cars and trucks started arriving, searching for cool spots on the emerald green grass at Greater Grace Temple on West Seven Mile in Detroit. The car show was part of an annual festival at the church - a party that included gospel singing, games, food and wheels.

Melvin Howard of Farmington parked his red 1936 Chevrolet pickup in the middle of the staging area and served as a kind of master of ceremonies and coordinator as members and friends of the Motown Automotive Professionals Club arrived with their cars. "Our club is hosting the show," said Howard, who bought his Chevy, Melvina, more than 40 years ago. Its supercharged 350-inch Chevrolet engine is rated at 550 horsepower, he said.

Marcus and Karen Simmons of Southfield brought their 1970 Boss 302 Mustang. Marcus, who is blind, is president of Southfield-based MAPn, automotive vocational training for the disadvantaged. The blue Mustang, partly the work of Boss Creations, is capable of 560 horsepower, he said. Artie Johnson of Detroit brought his 1974 Excalibur with its 454 Corvette engine, which was built in Wisconsin on a Corvette chassis. Eddie Watson of Detroit showed his 1955 Ford F-100 pickup.

Detroiter Sandra Warren had the right idea when she set up her folding chair in the cool shade, several feet behind the 1964 Dodge Polara she has owned since getting new as a graduation gift from her parents. "They promised to buy me a new car if I got good grades in school and didn't get pregnant," Warren recalled. "My father did 30 years at Cadillac's Clark Street (at Michigan Ave.) plant," she said. "He always drove Cadillacs and I sort of thought that's what I might get. But they bought me a new red Polara with a big white gift bow on top." Warren said she stored the coupe for 17 years. She got serious about fixing it up and driving it when her husband was cleaning out the garage and suggested maybe they should get rid of the car.

A Valentine's Day gift for his wife was the reason Bill Simms of Grosse Pointe Woods gave for buying the elegant red 1975 Pontiac Grand Ville convertible with its white interior and unusual height-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals (a $47 option), earlier this year. The glamorous ragtop had only 33,000 miles on the odometer when Simms found it in Florida. "We drove it home and we use it, so now it has 38,000 miles on it," said Simms, whose other collectibles range in model years from 1939 to 1989.

Kenneth Trail of Detroit brought his retirement gift to himself: a silver 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS with 350-inch engine. A 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe with four scissor doors was the work of Detroiters Reginald Shelton, Andre Barnes and Tim Jackson. Detroiter Eddie Watson was showing a perfect bright-red 1955 Ford F-100 pickup with a Ford 302-inch engine. A pinstriping expert (Sylvester Gurley) was carefully outlining graphics on Greg Williams' 1970 Corvette, Green Hornet.,/p>

Jenny King is a Detroit-area free-lance writer. She can be contacted via e-mail at Wright-King@comcast.net

REF: http://info.detnews.com/joyrides/story/index.cfm?id=674
Copyright 2007 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.