Tag Archives: Fleetwood Country Cruize In

1936 Ford

This 1936 Ford hot rod was yet another car shot at the 2016 Fleetwood Country Cruize-In. This would be considered more of an ‘old school’ rod, as the engine used is a Ford flathead, as opposed to one of the more modern 1950s OHV engines. As Autoweek noted…

“hot rodders loved this relatively simple engine. Hundreds of manufacturers offered speed equipment for flatheads. Bored and stroked, with wilder camshafts and multiple carburetors, hot flatheads ruled street and strip until the mid-’50s, even holding their own against bigger, heavier Cadillac and Chrysler overhead-valve designs”


With the engine compartment open, the red flathead drew you to the car. The flathead engine was introduced in 1932 and offered consumers V8 power but at an affordable price. The first version was 221 cubic inches and is identified by it’s 21 studs that hold the head to the block. This version, however, would be the later 24-stud model, introduced in 1939 for the Mercury line (and factory-installed in Ford beginning in 1946). The chrome nuts on the studs is a popular hot-rod style, as is the aftermarket Offenhauser heads. These finned-aluminum heads helped performance in different ways, not the least of which was the fins which allowed for slightly better cooling to alleviate the flatty’s notorious penchant for overheating. Of course, the chromed air cleaner assembly and ignition coil are also popular ‘bright parts’, and keen viewers will notice the addition of a modern electric fan ahead of the radiator to further aid cooling.

The Ford itself featured a piano-like mirror finish in black, with pinstripes in red to match those heads and engine.

As with all photos taken that day at Fleetwood, this was shot with my Nikon D3200, and my 18-55mm lens. The settings were ƒ4.5, 1/80 sec exposure and ISO 400. Topaz Adjust was instrumental in the post-processing to bring up the details in this image. The original shot is below.

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1937 Dodge

The final 1930s Dodge I was able to shoot over the years was this 1937 Dodge hot rod. It was actually shot a few yards away from the 1931 and 1934 Dodges, at the 2015 Fleetwood Country Cruize In.

Compare the 1937 ornament to the previous years. It’s easy to see how much more streamlined the ram has become. The ridges in the horns are gone, everything from the head to the forelegs through the body has been stylized. This is much more ‘ornamental’ rather than a realistic portrayal of a charging ram. Notice also how the figure seems to lean further forward – there is more movement through the body by comparison.

We can also see the refinement in the Dodge Brothers logo. The wings are now yellow to match the center crest, and the overall shape is refined slightly.

The 1930s were a time of great transition in automotive design. The ability to create more complex curves in metal allowed manufacturers to design more aerodynamic profiles. Cars were becoming less square and upright, fenders were incorporated into the car’s body as they become wider and lower. In every way, automotive design was being modernized, including mascots such as the Dodge ram.

This photo was shot with a Nikon D3200, 18-55 mm lens at 24mm, set to ƒ/6.3, 1/160 sec shutter and ISO 100. Editing was done in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust. The original image is below.

1931 Dodge

I recently posted about a hot-rodded 1936 Dodge, focused mostly on the ram hood ornament. Hood ornaments were often a large part of a manufacturer’s identity. One can think not only of the Dodge ram, but also the Mack Truck bulldog, or Jaguar’s leaping cat, or the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy. While the mascots themselves may have remained consistent to the brand, that is not to say that at least some of these miniature sculptures went unchanged over the years. In fact, many received frequent redesigns. The Dodge ram seems to be one that was updated often.

I apologize for the fact that I didn’t post these in a proper chronologic order (poor planning on my part). It seems the ram mascot came about some time after the Dodge brothers had died, and under the ownership of Chrysler, some time in the 1920s. Our example here is the 1931 Dodge car. As you see, the ornament is mounted on what was originally a nickel-plated radiator shell, with a large base. The ram itself is fairly detailed (though badly pitted due to age). The ridges of the horns, the separation of the horns from the neck, the forelegs tucked in front, are all noticeable. There’s a sort of realism to the design, an attempt to faithfully reproduce a ram.

Compare this to the 1936 car, and it seems apparent that auto design was becoming much more aerodynamic. The radiator shell had now evolved into a 3-piece grille, integrated into a rounder design of the car overall. The ram sits on a much smaller base. The ornament itself has been smoothed a little, with deeper, but shorter and fewer horn ridges, the horns tucked closed to the neck, and the forelegs reduced in size.

The previously posted 1936 Dodge.

Note too the Dodge Brothers winged logo. Comparing the 1931 version to the 1936, we definitely see the influence of streamlining and aerodynamics at play. The wings are less feathered and more what you’d see in an air service insignia.

This is the type of thing that got me interested in cars as a kid. I used to notice the differences in design, how elements of the car’s shape and details would be refined (or wouldn’t in some cases) from year to year. It caught my interest enough to start looking for images of cars and reading about different makes and models. Of course, for many people, those minute details are too subtle to warrant more than a passing nod, but for some car people, these things can spark hours of discussion.

I found this 1931 Dodge at a show I have mentioned many times, the 2015 Fleetwood Country Cruize In. I actually found 2 other Dodges at the same show, which I will feature in upcoming posts. I shot this with the same Nikon D3200, 15-55mm lens set at 52mm, ƒ/10, 1/400 sec shutter and ISO100. As you’ll see by the original below, the shot came out quite dark, and required quite of bit of adjustment in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust to bring up the green grass reflection in the shiny radiator shell.

1969 Plymouth Satellite wagon

The station wagon is a rare thing nowadays. In the new car ranks, the SUV has rendered the wagon almost obsolete. But even at classic car shows, it’s not easy to find these longroofed cars that once populated driveways all over the continent.

A major reason why wagons have disappeared is that they got used up. Prior to the musclecar investment craze of the 1980s, few people thought about preserving any car, let alone something as mundane as a station wagon. The family car was meant to be used, and they were. Shopping trips, ferrying kids back and forth, the family’s cross-country drive to Walley World, most of these miles were racked up in a station wagon, with it’s ample seating and cargo space. And when the odometer had turned enough miles, it was almost a guarantee that wagon’s next stop was the scrapper.

But, once again, at a car show as large as the Fleetwood Country Cruize In, there’s always a chance you’ll find something somewhat rare. So it was in June 2016 when I found this 1969 Plymouth Satellite wagon perched above the walkway I’d stopped to rest on. It was complete, and bore the look of a survivor. If you look closely, you can see the paint has its share of chips and the ‘Satellite’ badge is missing its ‘te’. Back in the day, it was likely an average family taxi, nothing too fancy or flashy. The black steel rims with trim rings give it a little bit of a sleeper hot rod look now.

Once again shot with my Nikon D3200, 18-55 Nikon lens, at ƒ/5.6, 1/125 sec exposure and ISO 160. There is some image manipulation done in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust. The original image is below.

1955 Packard Caribbean

The larger the car show, the better chance you often have of seeing something you wouldn’t normally see. Once again, at the Fleetwood Country Cruize-In 2016, I found a 1955 Packard Caribbean convertible in the field. Packards in general are rare, but in this case, more so.

The Caribbean was created in response to the stunning dream car convertibles from GM, the Cadillac Eldorado, Buick Skylark and Oldsmobile Fiesta. There were only 500 Caribeean convertibles made in 1955, and another 276 in 1956, before Packard production stopped and the company joined Studebaker in an ill-fated merger of 2 struggling automakers. The sad truth is that Packard had, in terms of styling and engineering, caught back up to the Big Three, as the pretty Caribbean shows. The company however was terminally ill financially, had lost its body manufacturer, and the public wasn’t beating a path to Packard. By 1959, the Packard name no longer graced any new cars.

The Caribbean was shot using my Nikon D3200 with the 18-55mm Nikon lens. It was shot at ƒ/9, 1/320 sec shutter speed and ISO set at 100. As usual, the post-production was done in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust to bring up the detail in the non-factory paint. The original shot is below. The above is available as a poster for your garage or mancave by emailing shootyourcarmister@gmail.com.

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1964 Rambler

You see many different cars when you attend a car show. In 2015 at the Fleetwood Country Cruize In, I spotted this beautiful little 1964 Rambler American and had to get a shot of the pristine engine bay. AMC products are sometimes few and far between, and you don’t often get to see that trademark turquoise engine paint. The Rambler Amercian was a very popular compact in its day, and they are fun to see at shows. You can read more about AMC and Rambler in my review here.

I shot this with my Nikon D3200 at ƒ/9, 1/320 sec shutter speed, and ISO 100. The bright direct sunlight made for some extra work in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust, as the engine bay was obviously heavily shadowed. The original photo is below.

This image is available as a 20″x16″ poster by contacting shootyourcarmister@gmail.com.

3 Hot Rods

Perhaps the largest custom and classic car show in Canada was Steve Plunkett’s Fleetwood Country Cruize In. What began as a small, 60-car event grew to a 2-day affair held on Mr. Plunkett’s estate outside London, ON that drew upwards of 4,000 vehicles and 15,000 spectators. Guests over the years included customizers George Barris and Gene Winfield, musical guests The Beach Boys and Frankie Valli, and the casts of movies and TV shows such as American Graffiti and The Dukes of Hazzard. In the 15 years the show ran, almost $1.75 million was raised to support local charities. The last event was held in 2019, as Mr. Plunkett (who took on much of the work related to the show himself) would things down to enjoy his own extensive car collection.

I found these 3 hot rods sitting just the other side of the main entrance, around the corner of the house. Though on this day they sat on the grounds of a mansion, the way they were parked mimicked the way you’d find them at any burger joint in the early 60s. The T-bucket, Ford coupe and 55 Chevy are 3 of the iconic hot rods of the era, instantly carrying one back to the height of the cruising era.

I shot this at the 2015 Fleetwood Country Cruize In with my Nikon D3200, using my 18-55 lens set at ƒ/6.3, 1/160 sec and ISO100. As always, the post-production was done in Photoshop and Topaz Adjust. This image is available as a 20″x16″ poster by contacting shootyourcarmister@gmail.com. The original shot can be seen below.