by SARAH JOHNSON
Engines revved, planes and helicopters hovered overhead and people strolled in the early summer heat.
Robertson Airfield was the place to be Sunday.
The Wings and Wheels event packed the tarmac and surrounding fields with plenty to do for locals of all ages.
Over 400 classic and custom automobiles, dozens of motorcycles and a variety of vendors were on display at the event. Helicopter and airplane rides across the airfield were offered. Children could enjoy bouncy attractions and face painting.
The main attraction, cars of all different ages and styles, lined several areas of the grounds, some grouped by age, some spread sporadically. The car owners were happy to talk about their prized vehicles.
Ray Theriault is from Southington but grew up in Plainville. He was at the show with his 1932 Lincoln LeBaron convertible roadster, that he bought four years ago. “I traded three classic Lincolns for this one car,” he said. “There are only 15 of them left in the world.” The last time someone restored the car was in 1985. It is a custom body car that was made to order. Ray’s car was used as the model car in the Chicago Auto Show in 1931. “If I had to recommend one thing about getting into classic cars,” Ray said, “get a Lincoln. They are the best value in classic cars.”
Reggie L’Heureux is president of the Bristol Auto Club. The club participates in weekly cruise night at Sears Hardware in Bristol through the summer, the Mum Festival, and various other fundraisers. The club helped organize Wings and Wheels. Reggie had his deep green 1954 Ford Crestline Victoria at the event. “A doctor in Bristol owned this car and was retiring to Florida and selling it,” Reggie explained. “I bought it and restored it to stock condition. It even has power steering, brakes and seats.” Reggie bought the car for very sentimental reasons. “It was just one year newer than the same car I met my wife in.” Reggie recommends doing lots of research before getting into classic car buying. “Pick and choose and make sure you know what you’re buying if you’re looking for it to be worth something down the road. If you just love the car, go for it.”
Scott Levigne is from Wallingford and brought his 1969 Oldsmobile 442. It’s a GM muscle car. “I purchased the car on Long Island about five years ago and it took four years to restore. Every nut and bolt on the car is new and restored to original specs. It was a lot worse than I thought when I bought it…. Everything was rusted.” Scott bought his car because it was the same as the first car he had in highschool.
At the very back of the lot, Walter Hopkins, from Oxford, had his dark red 1980 Toyota Tercel. “At the time I bought this, I had an ’82 Tercel. My wife and I spotted this one behind a body shop all stripped down and paid $100 to take it as a parts car.” But then the plans changed. The car had no rust at all. “I decided I’d make a hot rod out of it,” Walter said. The only problem was that there was no such thing as hot rod parts for a 1980 Tercel. Walter custom-built all the parts for the car by tinkering and modifying existing pieces and ordering custom piece from different shops. “My dad raced cars and I went to Brooklyn Automotive school. This has always been a hobby and I enjoy doing it.”
Proceeds from the different sales made during the event went to benefit the Plainville Food Pantry and the Petit Family Foundation.
Mildred Williams of the Plainville Food Pantry was thrilled with the turnout for the event. “I can’t wait to get out and walk around and see everything,” she said. Dr. William Petit and his friends and family were selling tickets for the Sixth Annual GE Road Race, along with other jewelry and clothing with the foundation logo. The Foundation benefits many different types of community causes that foster the education of young people, especially women, in the sciences; improve the lives of those affected by chronic illness and support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.
You can find more on these organizations at www.thefoodpantry.net and www.petitfamilyfoundation.org, respectively.