Early Bird Stories

In 2009, Sheldon Hahn and his son-in-law Dave Blackburn went on a collector car adventure together. Dave thought it was an opportunity to get to know each other better and share their passion for collector cars. But in fact, Sheldon was actually distracting Dave for the day. A surprise 50th birthday party was in the works and it was Sheldon’s job to keep Dave out of the house for the day. So off they went to the Classic Car Auction in Toronto. It was there that Sheldon and Dave both spotted this little beauty – a 1925 Chevrolet Superior Touring car. They were both smitten.

So Dave and Sheldon decided to go “halfsies” on the car. It was exciting for Dave as it was his first time bidding at an auction. Sadly, they were the second-last bidders. As soon as the hammer went down, they wished they’d put in just one more bid.

Less than a year later, Sheldon was at an estate auction and there it was, the same car offered for sale again. This time he made sure he was the successful bidder, even though it meant paying more than he would have the first time around. Something told him they were meant to own that car.

Dave is pictured here with the car on his wedding day.


Ed Frances, left, and his grandson Sam Hall with the car they managed to track down and buy.


Meant for the road, not the garage

Cars have always been a passion for Ed Francis. When he first saw this exact car on vacation 40 years earlier in Mexico with his wife Mary, Ed knew he wanted one.  Originally purchased in Pompano Beach, Florida, this white roadster made its way to sit in a dealer’s New York showroom, but was later brought to Canada. Ed and his grandson Sam managed to track down and buy the car after it had been sitting in a garage as a showpiece for 22 years.  This beautiful 1977 Mercedes 450SL is now back on the road where it belongs.


Bob Lightfoot with his cherished 1931 Ford Model A.


A popular ride with the kids

I guess I just got an interest in old cars because by brother always had two or three of them under restoration. I think my favorite was the Ford Model A, so in 1984 I made the leap and bought my own 1931 Model A through an antique car dealer in Kitchener.

My car originally came from Pennsylvania and was owned by a farming family of five. It’s a two-door coupe with a rumble seat, has 40 horsepower and a top speed of 60 mph. I’ve had it painted, put on new tires, and replaced the battery, but it’s otherwise maintenance free.

It’s a fun car to drive and of course the kids love the rumble seat.


Sheldon and Jessie Hahn with the latest Fairlane.


From Fairlane to combine and back

In 1957, 22-year-old Sheldon Hahn, purchased his first new car. It was a 1957 Ford Fairlane hard-top retractable convertible. He bought it for about $5,700 and if you know Sheldon it won’t come as a surprise to learn the negotiations took all day.

The car had all the bells and whistles – and a huge engine. Rotarian Angus MacDermid tells a story about the power behind the combination of Sheldon and his Ford Fairlane. A friend of his, Gord, had a souped-up Harley-Davidson he believed could blow anyone away in a race. One night they were out on Downie Street when Sheldon pulled up in his Fairlane. After both Gord and ‘Shelley’ proudly declared themselves (and their vehicles), Masters of the Universe, Sheldon challenged Gord to a little race. According to Angus, Sheldon left him in the dust – not once, but twice.

By 1961, Sheldon owned a farm. It was a wet fall that year and Sheldon was having trouble getting his crops harvested since the people hired to do that work were so far behind. Sheldon made the decision to trade in his beloved Ford Fairlane for his first International combine so he could harvest his own crops that year.

The car pictured here is not Sheldon’s original Fairlane, but it has all the same specs as the first one, except his first car was black, not red and white. Sheldon came by this one through a niece, who lived in California, found it for him and had it shipped to Canada.


Robbin Hewitt enjoyed her 2004 Infiniti G35 for 14 beautiful years


Like the perfect leather jacket on sale

When I first saw this car, I immediately recalled one of my favorite-shaped vehicles – the Karmann Ghia. And since I’ve always named my ride, be it two- or four-wheeled, this one was easy!
There’s something about your first brand new car that’s special – like the perfect leather jacket on sale. I bought this 2004 Infiniti G35 coupe brand new and I’ve enjoyed it every spring, summer and fall ever since. Thanks to great friends and great barns, she has been protected from all winter worries. The day this picture was taken, after 14 years of enjoyment, ‘Karmann’ is now in the hands of my nephew.

Now I just hope he’s able to locate the cruise control and use it, unlike his now favorite aunt.


Katherine Hahn in ‘Lucille’, the 1983 Dodge 400 convertible she learned to drive in.


A memorable classic resurrected

My first car, as in I got my driver’s license in it, was a 1983 Dodge 400 convertible. I drove that car until I was in university.  (I may even have blown the engine.) It was eventually repaired and stored in my brother’s drive shed where it stayed for many years.

My late husband, Dave Blackburn, saw it there one day and when I told him about the history of the car, he took it and had the floor rebuilt, which had rusted out, and got it back into driving condition for me. It doesn't go as fast as it used to, but neither do I!

It is technically a classic car, but for me it's more about the nostalgia of it all. If you find my post on Facebook, you’ll see many comments from high school friends who also have great memories from touring around in this car.

A one-of-a-kind pick-up made with imagination and ingenuity.


Creating our ‘1930-ish’ Model A pick-up

I am fortunate to be surrounded by great people! I first began this venture by making the 1932 style frame from scratch. I scored a 1986 S-15 pick-up rear end, manual steering box and column from a friend. Then stumbled on a 1930 Tudor in a bush that was pretty tough. I cut it in half and used the rest to make a pick-up. I bought a bead roller and with the help of my wife on the crank, we rolled out the lower back cab panel and corner panels. Later we made a new fire wall to match the cab back and 28/29 rad shell. Finally, with the bead roller we made the box and tailgate. On Father’s Day 2012, my Dad ran the crank and we created the 1932 style dash.

I found a low mileage 307 and 200R4 tranny from an ‘86 Cutlass. A friend used a waterjet cutter to make stainless steel exhaust flanges and 2-inch stainless steel tubing to make the manifolds and entire exhaust from heads to the bumper.

So simple, reliable and made in our garage with the help of friends and family. Many thanks Jo, Gerry, Barney, Dennis, Greg, Corey and Jamie.


Peter and Lisa Hyde with their memory-making Mustang.


A news-generating ride

Peter and Lisa purchased this 1965 Mustang GT convertible from John Bettridge in 2002. John had restored a similar car for Lisa’s father, Earl Ramseyer, in the late 1980s and the couple had always liked that car. John found this one in 1998 in California and was working on it for himself when Peter saw it and convinced him to sell it. John completed the restoration work and held to his word to let them have it.

One of the couple’s more memorable times was driving Lloyd Robertson, former CTV news chief anchor, in the Stratford Canada Day Parade shortly after they got the car. It overheated, stopped running and Lloyd got out and pushed. He said it would be great press.

The car only has 12,000 miles on it and Peter and Lisa have enjoyed every single one of them!


Effie & Ken’s daughter Krysta and their now son-in-law Steve on their wedding day with the much-loved Malibu.  


Memories and rites of passage

We bought our 1969 Chevelle Malibu convertible 25 years ago. A friend asked if we’d be interested in purchasing his “old convertible” since he was planning on selling it with the thought of buying an engagement ring with the money. We didn’t take long to say yes and now we have 25 years of memories.

It has been a wonderful addition to our summer fun. We love our quick convertible runs to the beach and further trips to Manitoulin Island and the Niagara region. What amazing adventures we’ve had along the way. We’re always so surprised by the attention the car gets and from people in every age group.

Our children, Krysta and Jonathan, still remember the first time they were each able to drive the Malibu. It was an exciting time and a family rite of passage – although the steering took a bit to get used to! The Malibu was also a star in our daughter and son-in-law’s wedding photos.


 Sheldon Hahn getting a helping hand from his granddaughter Allison.


A car that’s hard to let go

Sheldon Hahn enjoys getting his ‘Shine On’ with the help of his granddaughter Allison. This 1917 Chevy 490 Roadster is perhaps Sheldon’s favourite antique car.

The Chevrolet Series 490 was produced from 1915 to 1922 and when it was introduced in 1915, it sold for a mere $490. It was an immediate success and a suitable competitor to Ford's Model T. Powering the 490 was an overhead valve 171 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine. This would become Chevrolet's main engine until the 'Stovebolt' straight six replaced it in 1929.

Sheldon purchased this car at an estate auction here in Ontario. In 2008, he sold the majority of his vintage collection of farm tractors, machinery and collectible cars. Included in this collection were 14 vehicles. This was the only car he had in the entire auction with a reserve bid. He still owns it today. Sheldon and Jessie have taken this car to many weddings over the years. It’s been a great backdrop and prop for photos, including at many of their own children’s weddings.


Michael Hahn in the car he had dreamed of ever since he was a young man.


Boys and their toys

When Michael was ready to buy his first car, this 1987 Buick Grand National was exactly the kind of car he had in mind. These cars were extremely popular in the ‘80s. In 1986 and ‘87, an intercooler was added to the engine package, which raised the output to a dramatically underrated 235 hp. This is the version on which the legend is based. For domestic U.S. production, the Grand National was the fastest-accelerating American car you could buy. Yes, faster than the Camaro, the Mustang and the Corvette.

For this reason alone, Michael’s father stepped in and convinced the lad that a pickup truck would be a far better and more practical choice for a young man on the farm, not to mention a safer option.

So, in 2000 when the day came for a much more mature Michael to purchase a second vehicle, the choice was clear and the time was right. Michael has since carefully restored this car using all factory original parts. Thirty years later, his 1987 performer still turns heads.