Classics rev up for annual car show

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The car show will feature everything from a 1945 Chevy pickup, top left, to a 1966 Ford Fairlane, top center, a J2 MG, Ford Model A, Ford T-Bucket and more. The downtown event is free and will feature music on three stages Saturday.

By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

Engines roar, horns honk and wheels turn as nearly 400 classic cars head to Natchitoches for the Natchitoches car show Saturday, Sept. 29. The event has become one of the fastest growing festivals in the City of Natchitoches. Cars, trucks and rat rods will be lined up by 9:30 a.m. Saturday for viewing, which is free. The festival will conclude with an awards ceremony at 4 p.m. on the main riverbank stage. Guests will be entertained throughout the day by nine bands on three stages in the historic district.

Cars will line the downtown riverbank, Front Street and down Touline Street to Second Street, ending at Church Street. Artist Morgan Lasyone will paint a canvas live during the day. It will be auctioned before the awards ceremony. If viewing the cars makes your mouth water, there will be a small food court on Touline as well as restaurants along the downtown area. The event is family friendly.

1945 Chevy Pickup

Henry Pendarvis of Sulphur has been a staple at the Natchitoches show since the beginning. His sunshine yellow 1945 Chevrolet pickup is a favorite for enthusiasts. Pendarvis, 72, says he was lucky enough to have grown up in the street rod era, thereby developing a love for the autos of that time. He hits a dozen or so shows a year and says the Natchitoches show is, “a good show…We just have fun and eat.”

Pendarvis purchased the pickup many years ago, but didn’t have time to restore it. “It was a 10-year process to restore,” he said. “The frame and sheet metal are original.” He chose to add creature comforts such as air conditioning, heated seats and power steering to make the truck more user friendly. “It has an LS-1 engine and a 4L60E tranny,” he said.

The truck will miss this weekend’s show since it is in the shop and will not be ready in time, but Pendarvis has plans to return next year.

1966 Ford Fairlane

Dixon Morton hasn’t missed a Natchitoches car show and this year will be no exception, although his 1966 Ford Fairlane two-door coupe will not accompany him. “It’s fresh out of the paint shop,” Morton said. His love for classics is in his blood, going back to his grandfather. “He was a Model T mechanic and also worked for a livery stable. The livery owner got a Ford franchise and it started there.” Morton said he literally grew up around classics and makes about 40 car shows per year. He has three classics, the Fairlane, a 1923 Ford T-Bucket and a 1930 Ford Model A coupe. The Model A was a family car and boasts 16,000 original miles. “My stepdad had the car and he made me promise not to street rod it,” Morton said. He’s held true to his word and not restored it from its original condition.

His T-Bucket has a unique story. Morton was in an industrial accident years ago and his rehabilitation was set to cost him around $1,000 per day. He chose to shy away from traditional rehab and focus his energy on his T-Bucket. “Fixing up that car became my rehab project,” he said.

Morton spent part of his childhood in the Fairlane. It belonged to his grandmother’s best friend. “I’ve been trying to buy it for 42 years, since well before she passed away,” he said. “But she left it to her grandson. He kept it for a while then sold it. The person he sold it to wrecked it and it sat up for 25 or 30 years. One day I finally saw a for sale sign on it and it was finally mine.” The 1966 was a one-year body style for the Fairlane and the only option available was an automatic transmission. His car has 67,000 actual miles. “I still remember riding in it as a kid,” he said. “All three of my cars have family ties – they’re like family.”