MCPHERSON - Twenty years ago the McPherson College C.A.R.S. Club held its inaugural show with about 50 vehicles on display. This year, an estimated 400 vehicles will be on-site for the 20th Annual McPherson Motoring Festival.
"One of the great things we hold here in McPherson and our automotive department puts on is our car show," Nicholas Navarro said. "It's actually out motoring festival we call it, because it's not just cars. We're also celebrating the life behind campus, that's what we incorporate into our festival."
Navarro, a junior in the McPherson College Auto Restoration Program, is one of the more than 80 people who's hard work goes into this student-run event. He hails from Paramus, New Jersey and says he's never been to a show like this one.
"Our car show is one of the most colorful car shows that I have ever seen," he said. "We have cars from all over the country of all makes and models. These cars are cars I will personally never see again in my life because they are so rare."
In 1976, Gaines "Smokey" Billue donated his 125-vehicle collection to McPherson College. His hope that students would share his enthusiasm for classic cars, was the beginning of the auto restoration program. Over the years this dream has expanded to a four-year degree with emphasis in technology, management, design, history and communications. The program has cultivated Billue's dream in others.
"My hopes and aspirations are to be able to communicate the importance of classic cars," Navarro said. "Classic cars are not a necessity, but it is something that is so important to both our culture and society and history. I want to bring the next generation into the classic car world so they don't rot away in barns."
Each year, the day after the car show ends, plans are already in the works for the next one. The students put the same TLC into the event as the cars on display.
"It's funny because we talk about the cars back in the day, when we talk in restoration. We discuss that these vehicles were built to last five to 10 years, they weren't expected to go further," Navarro said. "The fact that they are surviving 90 to 100 years it's amazing and it takes a lot of effort, a lot work and a lot of blood sweat and tears, to get these cars to what they are today."
This year's festival featured four rare gems. A 1914 Peugeot Grand Prix, a 1970 Hemi Cuda, a 1946 Kurtis Kraft-Novi and a 1952 Ferrari 212 Vignale. Cars of the same make and model that a currently in the process of being restored by the program were on display as well, so people could see the hard work that goes in to the reconstruction of these classic beauties.
"To see these high-class vehicles show up makes us unique and to see the student cars next to them adds to the uniqueness," Navarro explained.
The event added a new feature this year in trolley rides from the campus to downtown McPherson, for people to shop, eat and experience Mac town life. Another way for the college and community to work together and interact.
"We just want to bring joy to both the students and the community," Navarro said. "This show is made to celebrate our students and give the community the opportunity to see what our students are working on. We want to thank the the community and local businesses who help make our car show a success."
For more information on the McPherson College C.A.R.S. Club and the automotive restoration program visit www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration/cars or find them on Facebook.