Pontiac Museum Show and Tours

The September 20-21, 2014 Pontiac Show and Tours were a great success. With over 200 beautiful Pontiacs of all models around the Pontiac Ill. courthouse and good weather, it was a show that I was glad I didn’t miss.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon with a load of 1936 Pontiac parts that had been donated to the museum by a gentleman in Overland Park who was moving to California.

I met up with Tim and a few other friends at Alan Finkenbinder’s warehouse where he and Tim store a number of Pontiacs and other assorted cars in their collections. I met two great guys from Memphis, Tennessee, Ted Burgin and Mark Thomas, who had also arrived early to help Tim set up for the weekend. Alan took us in the warehouse and WOW there were rows and rows of dust covered cars, 3 or 4 rows wide and 7 or 8 rows deep. Mostly Pontiac’s but a few other makes also. A Thunderbird, Cadillac, Corvette, even a 70’s Honda a couple of years newer than Brenda’s and others I don’t even remember. There were more 1973 GTO’s than I had ever seen in one place at a time. 4 or 5. Oh yes, and a 20’s or 30’s Franklin Motor car. There were many other restored Pontiac’s and other cars on the other end of the warehouse.

It was then on to Mario’s Pizza where we met up with Tim’s wife, Penny and Alan’s wife, LeAnn. After a great pizza, we proceeded back to the shop and museum to move a few cars out and a few new additions in.

Luckily, Tim has a roller jack system that made the cars easier to move since Tim does not start the cars inside the museum and the corners are too sharp to turn. All the cars are put on the roller jacks to move within the museum until they get to the doorway to the alley.

Two ’64 GTO’s out and one ’64 and one ’65 GTO in. Then we moved out a ’82 Grand Prix and moved in a gorgeous fully restored 1935 Pontiac 4 door. Those older cars are REALLY heavy, even on the roller jacks. After we took the other cars back to Tim’s shop and after a little shop talk about the 1969 GTO he is restoring , thank heaven it was then on to the hotel and bed about midnight. After an eight hour drive and moving cars around for several hours, needless to say, I slept very well.

Day two – Friday. Up at 6:45 a.m., to breakfast then off to the museum after a little shop talk time with Ted and Mark. Ted owns a body shop in Memphis and Mark owns a sheet metal business in Bartlett, TN. Tim and Penny are already there to meet us at 9:15.

Friday was a housekeeping day. Making sure there was enough money in the cash register for sale items, change for the raffles, and 50/50 pot. We dusted cars and filled tires with air and greeted the many, many people who had come for the show and surprisingly, many who had come to see the museum not even knowing about the show and events of the weekend. Several couples said they would come back to the see the show on Sunday.

Saturday. The Fun Begins. Registration and Tour day. Met at the museum at 8:00 a.m. Put up the big PONTIAC balloon, then off to the tours.

Started at Tim’s shop for a tour of the storage and shop. Departed for the Route 66 Standard Station at Odell, Ill. a few miles north of Pontiac, Ill. Lunch at the Dwight Country Mansion in Dwight, Ill. Excellent chicken, cheeseburgers, salads and chicken salad croissants. Mmmmmm good! On to the Historic Becker Texaco Station in Dwight, Ill.

Back to Pontiac and to view Alan Finkenbinder’s two buildings filled with more and more cars, tractors, fire truck, a Stanley Steamer automobile, all packed together so closely you couldn’t even get close to some of them. Alan calls them his ”retirement IRA”. If so, he’s going to have one heck of a retirement. Round trip was 41 miles.

Back to the museum and on to a very informative talk and slide presentation by Bill Porter a former Pontiac design engineer who helped design many Pontiac cars of the 50’s and 60’s including the GTO’s and Grand Prix’s along with many others. A short Q and A session and then dinner. Bill’s wife Pat, accompanied him on the trip. A great lady whom Bill says keeps him in line and on schedule with his speaking engagements.

Dinner at Chautauqua Park and Pavilion was a really great chicken dinner with all the fixin’s in the huge Chautauqua Pavilion built in 1882. Everyone had plenty to eat and drink.

After dinner was a live musical performance that was put on by the Vermillion Players called “On the Road Again : The Mother Road That is!” with great tunes from the classic days of Rock n’ Roll.

The Vermillion Players are a local group of song and dance performers. It is a fun group with light hearted tunes and a few corny jokes sprinkled in. Ain’t that right “Fred”? Ask me about “Fred”.

Sunday! Sunday! Show day!

Show Day and the Presentation of the Ron Panzer memorial fund checks to Tim Dye.

Show day started out a little cool, but soon turned very nice, although a little breezy. Bright sunshine thoughout the morning. The cars kept coming in. GTO’s, Grand Prix’s, Trans Am’s , more GTO’s and Pontiac’s of all kinds and years. Most every one was a beautiful example of Pontiac’s great years. They circled the Court House Square and filled all the adjacent streets and parking lots. What a sight!!

The Show was put on by the Heart of Illinois GTO Club, The Gateway GTO Club and the Pontiac- Oakland Museum, so needless to say, there were a lot of GTO’s. But there were a lot of other Pontiac ‘s too. Over 200 in all. The day turned a little drab and cool when some clouds came in the afternoon, but it never rained and the temperature actually got a bit warmer a little later in the afternoon.

Soon it was time for the many trophies and awards presented by Clubs. But before the awards were handed out there was a presentation to Tim and the Pontiac-Oakland Museum by a representative of the Grand Prix Chapter.

A memorial fund had been started by the Grand Prix Chapter in memory of Ron Panzer, a long time POCI member, newsletter editor, tech advisor, Grand Prix Chapter member and friend of the Pontiac-Oakland museum. Gail Panzer, Ron’s wife and their son and daughter were present and together they presented checks in the amount of over $1,200.00 to Tim to help with the restoration of a 1967 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham that Ron had owned. The car had a significant history as it was a car given away in 1967 by the Pontiac dealers in a contest to be given to one person in the nation who could order any car they wanted with any accessories on it they wanted. Ron acquired the car from a previous owner. We will all miss Ron Panzer, his wit, his technical abilities, and most of all just the friendliness of a great man. We hope this memorial will keep his memory alive for many, many years to come.

The show was a great success and a lot of fun. Thanks to the GTO clubs and to the Museum for a great time. See you next year. third weekend in September, Pontiac Museum, Pontiac Ill. I know I won’t miss it. Let’s get the Grand Prix Chapter members with their Grand Prix’s out next year to enjoy this great show and support the Pontiac Museum.

Bob Wolf

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