Out with the new, in with the vintage

Block party car show will feature vehicles from 1920s to '70s

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Dan Lempa's love of cars began 61 years ago, when his dad bought him his first vehicle -- a 1925 Ford Model T -- and over the years it's grown into an obsession. 

Lempa said restoring that first vehicle kept him "broke and in the garage" and, more importantly, out of trouble.

He was 13 years old, and he remembers that the vehicle was in such rough condition that a men's belt was being used instead of the fan belt. 

The vehicle sold for $265 when it rolled off the factory line in 1925; prior to Ford releasing the Model T, vehicles could cost as much as $4,000, putting them only within the financial grasp of the wealthy. 

Lempa no longer owns the vehicle -- "I wish I did," he said in a recent interview -- but his love vintage vehicles has never waned. He'll be displaying several of his vintage cars at a block party in the 200 block of North Cuyler Avenue on June 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The show will feature about 20 to 30 vintage vehicles from the 1920s through the 1970s, Lempa said. 

He'll be showing his 1939 Pontiac, a 1950 Chrysler and a 1942 Buick, among others. Those are so-called "woody" cars that have wood paneling for trim. He said those vehicles can be a challenge to maintain because "you don't just go to Auto Zone" to pick up replacement parts. 

"Really the thing is we don't want these cars to die with us," Lempa said. "We want the young people to appreciate the cars."

Lempa said he and his vintage car buddies – Jim Skajbel, Jim Corcoran and Jim Shirreff – have been talking for years about having a vintage car show in Oak Park, but they couldn't find a venue.

"We all hate parking lot car shows," he said. 

Lempa, a lover of the woody wagons, said he had a block party years ago for the woody vehicles, so they decided to do it again for all vintage cars. 

He said the neighbors on the block signed off on the party and they were ready to go. 

More information about the car show is available by calling Lempa at 312-914-1950 or via email at danlempa9@gmail.com.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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