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My Star Collector Car





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We were lucky enough to cross paths with Rick Orza and his stunning 1941 Dodge in the summer of 2010.

Rick was a part of a 2010 cross-Canada tour with the Coasters, a friendly convoy of vintage vehicle adventurers that take a coast- to- coast look at Canada behind the wheel of their rides.

They take most of July and August to make their journey and are some of the nicest car people we have met thus far at MSCC.

You can add "talented" to Rick's resume because his 1941 Dodge cab-over resto-mod is his babyRick took two solid years to construct his amazing truck and his patience and abilities are obvious in the build.

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The Dodge rests upon a Dakota chassis and is powered by a 360 Dodge, so he can run with any big dogs on any road. It was rusting in peace in a field when Rick discovered it and saw his vision of the perfect street machine.

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Rick really liked the look of the cab-over design and was very confident that he could refine the Dodge into a one-of-a- kind beauty that could take him anywhere he wanted to go- including a cross- country tour of Canada.

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Rick is a master metal worker, so he knew that he could stretch the cab by five inches to give him a more comfortable cab size. The trucks were originally designed as working stiffs, so creature comforts were not a big- ticket item for their original purpose.



Rick's Dodge has all of the creature comforts (up to and including power windows) so it now has all of the classic looks of the original, plus the upgrades to take Rick on a long trip across a big country.


The unusual add-ons include Honda mirrors, a Chevy bumper, Caddy tail lights and Harley headlights. But its main components are pure Mopar,heart and soul, because Rick wouldn't have it any other way.


MSCC congratulates Rick for his amazing truck and the fact that it is definitely a driver in his world.

An entire country worth of driving and still counting.





sept11jim pix 233-1We used to see plenty of 70s era station wagons on the road. They were part of the fabric of a bygone era when wagons ruled the road.

The 2010 Coasters cross-Canada tour included a 1975 Dodge Coronet that looked like it came straight out of the Brady Bunch.

Incidentally, the Coasters Tour is a journey across Canada for a dedicated band of vintage vehicle owners and not a musical act in this case. They see the country in the best possible fashion: behind the wheel of a vehicle that was king of the road a long time ago.


Joan and Gordon Brown left Nova Scotia on the 2010 tour with 3 grandchildren and a small trailer in tow. The kids were lucky enough to spend their summer holidays on a once- in- a- lifetime car trip in a Brady- mobile with their grandparents.

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That is better than a lottery win in the grand scheme of life-much better.It was due to Joan and Gordon's desire to see Canada with their grandkids as a 65th birthday retirement gift to themselves.

Gordon managed to locate a rusty 1975 Coronet that needed floors and rear quarter panels. It now has Pontiac quarters and Ford Taurus trim under the doors. We learned rather quickly that Gordon was a practical man with practical solutions to a problem.

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Quite frankly we would not have known that Poncho metal was on this Mopar. Gordon operated within a budget and constructed a practical way to join a Coasters adventure.

He was not interested in a show car, he was interested in a car that showed up for the tour.

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Mission accomplished for the Browns and their band of young travelers. The Coronet delivered the same level of reliability that made Pa Bradywant one in his driveway. Its 318 engine had performed with trouble-free loyalty for the Browns.

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Our conversation indicated that the Browns would like to be on the next Coasters tour in 2017.

We predict that they will drive their 1975 Coronet wagon on that tour with a few more grandkids and the trailer in tow.

Jim Sutherland

More stories at - 

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The old car hobby is heavily steeped in nostalgia.

Logically, it makes no sense to invest in outmoded technology-if it did; we would have seen a huge spike in stagecoach sales and service by now.

But this isn't about logic-it's about a yearning for the warm and comfortable fit of the past.


A kinder, gentler past where we can cherry pick memories from our childhood and turn the 1950s and 60s into golden ages.

Golden ages where life was much simpler, family units stronger and community was a concept, not a sales pitch for a new condo development.

That 50s sense of community comes alive every 10 years when The Coasters cross Canada in classic old vehicles-this is Shangri-La for anybody who misses the good old days.

The Coasters are a group of people who love old cars and trucks and they love traveling. A natural marriage of these two passions is a trip across Canada in classic old vehicles-many of these vintage rides are hauling trailers in this rolling Norman Rockwell exhibit.

The trip laid out like this-leave St. Johns Newfoundland on July 7th 2010 and arrive in Victoria British Columbia on August 20th 2010. That's a distance of over 4500 miles-not counting side trips. There were 120 vehicles registered and 83 completed the entire trip-others joined it in progress. The oldest cars were from 1931 (Chevy and a Dodge) and the newest was a fill-in 2nd stringer vehicle from 1990 (Chevy Suburban).

Believe it or not, they had only one major casualty-a 59 Caddy died minutes into the trip.

This is one of the most interesting stories we've ever covered at simply because (for a few weeks) these people are truly living an idyllic 1950s lifestyle in the 21st century.

That long forgotten lifestyle where parents and kids sat down together for every meal and if a kid was late...a simple yell out the front door brought him home at full speed. Most car guys are in awe when they hear about this trip and to a person-they are envious.

The Coasters travel in short bursts and they are welcomed at every stop on the way because this rolling caravan represents every corner of Canada (plus a few Americans and even New Zealanders) . The concept really works because somebody in the group lives near or in the daily des tination town so the red carpet is rolled out-it should be because these people leave Bill Gates money behind-along with a lifetime of goodwill.

What really jumps out in NBC living color when you see The Coasterssetting up camp is that you've gone back in time. You'll see 1954 Chevys or late 50s Ramblers hauling trailers with bumper hitches-this is a visual image straight out of the late 50s.The pre-Elvis- gets- drafted, Eisenhower, hula-hoop, AM radio late 50s era. It was a true Perry Como magic moment.

Except for the Pontiac GTO or Dodge Super Bee pulling a trailer-that was more like a 1960s Jimi Hendrix "magic mushroom" moment. But it worked.

Quite honestly, everything worked in this idyllic automotive world including a 1931 Dodge hauling a trailer-that old war pony was really working hard. Stay tuned in a few weeks for a full feature on the hardest working 31 Dodge in show business.

The Coaster cars are absolutely amazing-it is the world's best rolling car show and shine but the true essence of the trip is found in the people involved in the tour.

Canada is a country that has a tremendous amount of difficulty putting a stamp on its national identity. We're just too big, far-flung and sparsely populated.

As a Canadian, I've seen this "what the heck are we?" theme played over and over and it's getting worse.

As a result, to define us as an entity Canadians automatically go to our tried and true, recklessly overused default position-our hockey heritage.That's tragically wrong.

The Coasters tour is a genuine testimony to what can really define Canadians because you have Albertans establishing lifetime friendships with people from Quebec, Saskatchewan farmers bonding with Newfoundlanders and big city Toronto folks hanging with people from small townNova Scotia.

In many ways, that's a lot like North Korea inviting South Korea over for cocktails.

French and English conversations flow effortessly and concurrently without the aid of legislation.This is  bilingualism that works-car guys are car guys. In every language.

The common denominator is a simple hobby steeped in a collective fondness for the best facets of the past.

This is a deceptively simple concept-old cars crossing this incredible country bring us together far better than any misguided multi-million dollar tax funded "Canadian Unity" program ever did. Or will...

A natural byproduct of this gathering is the time travel sensation-to an era where you didn't have to worry where your kids were-they were in the neighborhood. They were somewhere within ear shot-doing real kid things...outside.

And if the kid got out of line it wasn't socially unacceptable for a neighbor to give a kid the same discipline that his mom would have supplied. Moms used to back each other up a lot better back in the 50s.

The 2010 Coasters rolling neighborhood really had that 'back there' feel-the parents were considerably older, but you still get that overwhelming feeling of nostalgia the minute you pull into their camp. Plus you didn't feel like back talking the older Coasters either-the hard-wired reflexes never die for us baby boomers and "getting smart alecky" with our elders sure wasn't on the agenda. Then or now.

This trailer community in 2010 was a microcosm of the warmest and coziest 50s and 60s memories. The denizens of this camp could easily have been living next door in that 1950s and 60s subdivision.

And the denizens aren't reinventing the past-they're recapturing it. These people are like their rides-completely old school. You can practically smell the apple pies baking in the vintage trailers. The ones with the old-fashioned gas oven, hand-pump faucet, wood floors laptop or handheld device plug ins. Texting at that dinner table is punishable by lots of dishwashing.


Some of The Coasters are kids- extremely fortunate kids because they're riding with their grandparents. That in itself is priceless, but they also get to experience a trip across the whole country traveling and living like kids did in the late 50s.  

Their grandparents- the same people who were doing the same thing with the kids' parents in the same type of cars-over 50 years ago.

No 21st Century history class (with all due respect to virtual reality)could touch that hands-on experience. These kids are getting a priceless education about their country past and present. This is clearly the world's best summer vacation- no apologies necessary to Disneyland.

When you witness this event in person you can't help come away with some very tangible emotions.

The first one is a simple car-guy reflex. Envy. As these classic old cars and trucks rolled in the feeling that overwhelms you is how great this trip would be to a true blue car guy. As car guys we always have to justify the expense of our 4 wheeled museum pieces and this trip would do it. This is truly a defining moment for seriously motivated disciples of the old rides.

You get to blow the carbon out of the old Hudson and, (even with marginal gas mileageyou get to see a huge, beautiful country in a classic vehicle. Hauling a trailer sweetens the deal because it cuts down on accommodation expenses and adds practicality to the long list entitled'why we drive old cars'.

The Coasters road trip is a Holy Grail experience for those who love to drive the old rides but it was also something else for onlookers. It evoked a yearning for the good old days.

This was a clean entry into a better past. The Coasters get it. Their encampment had the easy pace of a Henry Mancini instrumental. You can practically hear the strains of 'Theme from a Summer Place' as you roll into camp. Nobody is moving too fast. There's no need's so relaxed it's like a Jimmy Buffett experience without the tequila. This is more like an ice-cold lemonade in glass pitchers crowd and it's far more real than Margaritaville.

The Coasters camp is a place where you can still leave your doors unlocked-if you need something you borrow it. As for crime-it doesn't exist because everybody knows everybody in this neighborhood.

No matter what part of Canada they park the caravan.

One of The Coasters had a daughter visit and she was an RCMP officer-she had the same impression about the Coaster's community.

When she hit the camp she became a kid again-the last thing she worried about was law and order in the Coasters' world. That feeling is contagious.

When we came in to interview the residents, we were greeted with the best hospitality imaginable but I know the tone would have changed if I'd started rummaging through an unlocked trailer. These people clearly get the "look after your local community" concept-I wouldn't want to test the boundaries.

The last emotion is regret.

Regret comes when you have to leave this little piece of Paradise Foundand rejoin the 21st century. Sure the cars are far more efficient thanks to leaps and bounds in technology, communication is lightning fast, modern hotels make far more sense than a 50s era trailer.

6500-pound diesel trucks could haul that trailer and the car at 75 miles per hour and still get double the gas mileage-but it's not the same.

A brand new Ford diesel would smoke that 1954 Mercury and 3 of its buddies in an automotive fistfight.

But that really doesn't matter because the real first place prize goes toThe Coasters-they get it. Not only do they get it-they get it in style. So the last impression you'll have when you leave this very real trip back in time is simple.

You'll want to be part of the next one-from coast to coast

Please visit their website to see how The Coasters crossed Canada-

 Jerry Sutherland

We're going to be doing features every week on some of the participants in this incredible Coasters adventure at


COASTERS story #1





Fraser Field spent 30 years as a Paramedic so he's no stranger to driving an ambulance. The "strange" enters into the equation when he's still found behind the wheel of an ambulance-a 1969 Pontiac Bonnevilleambulance.

But it all starts to make sense when Fraser discloses that he was the tour coordinator (Wagon Master) for the 2010 Coasters tour.

This is Fraser and Dorothy Field's 2nd trip across Canada and he's truly enjoyed every mile-as he points out, "the big Pontiac is really comfortable to drive". The car has been relatively trouble-free with a coil problem and a separated tire being the two biggest issues.

That's not a bad record for a 41-year-old (in 2010) vehicle because theCoasters have to make daily deadlines and destinations. Nobody knows that better than Fraser because he was heavily involved in the logistics planning of the tour. That meant that his ride had to be the equal or better of any on the trip because The Coasters do like to poke fun at each other around the campfire.

This Bonneville has the monstrous 428 cubic inch motor. These old"pre-Paramedic" ambulances were known for their "snatch and go"strategy where high speed meant more than any kind of pre-transportation medical stabilizing. As Fraser pointed out "what they lacked in medical knowledge, they made up in horsepower".

The Pontiac has been upgraded with far more modern equipment so this ambulance doesn't reflect the barebones lifesaving technology seen back in 1969. Fraser's favorite patient these days is a stuffed ape on the stretcher because as he explains, "it's a great patient because it doesn't complain too much".

Actually the most common occupant in the patient area is Fraser and Dorothy's grandson As Fraser pointed out, "he lives back there with all that room, and we barely see him". If harried parents hear that it might start a spike in used ambulance prices.

When it's not doing cross-country touring, the Pontiac ambulance is used as a PR vehicle at cat shows and parades. That's not a stretch-the big red Pontiac with all the emergency equipment could probably be spotted from space.

Dorothy Field was a willing participant in two Coasters tours (2000 and 2010). She describes it as "an awesome experience" and the people involved have been "truly wonderful". She happily points out "that wherever you are in Canada you're among friends because somebody on the tour is from that hometown area".

Car guys take note-pitching the significant investment in a classic vehicle to a wife is easy if you can point out the light at the end of the tunnel...

this incredible road trip across one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Needless to say-Fraser will have no trouble convincing Dorothy that the Pontiac should stick around for another 7 years-the 50th anniversary of the first Coasters Tour.

For more of an insight into the Coasters Tour please follow this


Jerry Sutherland







John Moore is a Montana boy with a proud military history of service to his country.

He also loves the old iron and is the proud owner of a rare 1955 Chevrolet Cameo pickup truck.

He liked the look, but his Chevy truck is no museum piece or trailer queen.

John drove several thousand miles east and then turned north to join the Coasters for their cross-Canada vintage vehicle tour.

The trip began on the Canadian east coast and headed west to Vancouver Island.

John is no stranger to life behind the wheel as a former Montana open wheel champ, but this journey was not a race. It was just a great way for John to see his neighbors to the north and make some new car guy friends.

The Chevy Cameo is essentially an original rig, although the engine is a replacement mill from a newer 50s-era donor vehicle. It will tour all day at 55-60 mph with a small trailer, but John can run it at 80 if pushed-probably to appease his racer's need for speed on occasion.

The trailer is a rare U haul holiday trailer that was available to the public from 1982-86, according to John. It is a functional conversation piece for John that serves him well in his travels.

Despite that fact that the military may have dragged John kicking and screaming out of the service because of mandatory retirement John still likes to find adventure in his life. A Canadian cross country trip in a 55-year-old truck fit the bill.

The truck has been a trooper during the entire journey, but John believes in maintenance. "You don't love cars if you don't change oil",according to John. A chance conversation with a guy who bragged about 11,000 miles between oil changes nearly caused a scrap between John and an irresponsible owner.He's that passionate about protecting the iron.

John is the clear winner in this debate because he respects his vehicles and they reward him with a trouble-free journey of a lifetime.

It seems like an equitable trade.

Jim Sutherland  

For more Coasters information please follow this link



Coaster Story #3




As part of our blatant and obvious attempt to lure female readers to mystarcollectorcar for Valentine's Day here's car # 2 in the wedding car series.

This is a really nice blend-another story about a Coasters vehicle and a happily ever after story for a married couple and their beloved car. AHollywood ending with a 1967 Meteor in a leading role-you can't make this stuff up...

Who says we can't lure that Valentine's Day demographic over to

For John and Maria Snyders, marriage has always meant a long-term commitment to each other. But the Snyders have added one more ingredient into matrimonial mix: a 1967 Meteor that they have owned since day one when John picked it up from the factory.

Wedded bliss struck twice in the Snyders' household when their daughter used the venerable old family chariot for her bridal car.  

Meteor is essentially a Canadian Ford model that came from an era before the Ford brand became more of a universal North American label found in both countries.

This was the Snyders' courting car, family wedding car (twice) and years later, their cross Canada adventure car. In baseball terms-that's a grand slam home run.

Ownership of the 1967 Meteor was never intended to be a lifelong commitment similar to the Snyders' marriage vows- it just worked out that way.

John reflected that he "would have put in more options if he knew that he would keep the Meteor that long".

The car is essentially original except for new paint in 2000 and disc brake conversion.

The paint job was necessary because John and Maria's daughter used it as a wedding car and wanted it to look as it did for her parents in their newlywed days.

So the car has been a big part of the family for over four decades and it was a big part of their cross-Canada journey with the Coasters during the summer of 2010. It had performed flawlessly throughout the trip.

Clearly, John and Maria look after their vehicles. John apologized for some clutter in the immaculate trunk even though we reminded him that he was on a long trip and the trunk was not exactly messy.

But maybe the key to a successful marriage is the same as the key to a long relationship with a car. Look after the things that matter in both and they will last-if John, Maria and their beloved 1967 Meteor are an example.

Happy Valentine's Day

Jim Sutherland

For more Valentine's Day Wedding cars click here-








A 1959 Imperial convertible evokes thoughts of a guy like Bob Hope-flashy yet dignified. It's pretty easy to imagine the legendary comedian touring around Palm Springs in comfort and style during the latter stages of the Eisenhower administration in a red Imperial.

Bob Hope was a classy guy consequently this car would fit like his golf glove in the glamorous Hollywood world of late 1950s Palm Springs.

The Imperial was a presence car even back in the fin heavy year of 1959.

In the cookie cutter car world of 2011 it's like setting the Statue of Liberty down in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Less likely is the possibility of somebody using a 1959 Imperial to haul a travel trailer right across Canada over 50 years later...


J.P. Viau is a hardcore Chrysler fin car guy and he has a fleet of Virgil Exner styled cars to prove it-56 Desoto56 Dodge and 1960 Plymouth Fury...all convertibles. He wanted to join the Coasters tour in a fin car and he wanted to travel in complete comfort-enter the 59 Imperial. 

He had only owned the car for a few months before the giant tour across Canada but J.P. had no reservations about handing a big job to this 51-year-old car. The car has an interesting history. A Saudi Arabian purchased the brand new Imperial (clearly Arabs haven't had cash flow problems for quite awhile) but since then it was repatriated with its North American home. 


The massive Mopar was a dream to drive on the giant road trip. J.P. said that "they had the roof down as much as possible" and that "the car drew a crowd everywhere they went". Not surprising-you have a better chance of playing cards with E.T. the Extraterrestrial than seeing a giant red, mud-splattered 1959 Imperial convertible hauling a trailer over 4000 miles one way across Canada.


J.P. is the perfect guy to own this classic-he doesn't hide his Imperial in a climate- controlled tomb. He drives it in real weather on real (sometimes) crappy roads. That's the measure of a real car guy and, as a result, tens of thousands of Canadian were privileged to see this historical car in the real world.

There was only one minor issue with the Imperial as J.P. reported, "I bought some bad gas in Saskatchewan and ended up bending a butterfly valve" but he was very philosophical about that-"the gas mileage suffered but with a 59 Imperial it's not a giant fall".

That's the kind of guy who joins the Coasters tour-philosophical, easy-going, realistic and above all...a sense of humor.

Sounds a bit like Bob Hope.

Jerry Sutherland

For more information about the Coasters Tour please follow this link-





The Coasters Cross Canada tour is one of the classiest road trips in the world. It takes you back to a simpler era when a summer vacation was a huge event-not something expected and taken for granted.

There's a stylish, understated flair to this retro-journey in our modern, noisy 21st Century world. It's like bringing classic Sinatra to a Lady Gaga concert-the differences are painfully obvious.

This was really evident with Lester and Millie McKay, their 54 Mercury and 1952 'Snapping Turtle' holiday trailer.

The story begins, like most car stories with a yearning for a long lost car. In this case, the McKays owned a 1954 Mercury when they were married They celebrated their 40th anniversary by purchasing this 54 Merc.

They've owned it for over 15 years and it's a veteran of the Coasters tour-they made the 2000 Coasters trip in the very same car hauling the very same trailer. That's a feat in itself but this old warhorse also turned into a tow truck for another vintage car... plus another trailer. Millie reported that the Mercury "pulled it about 80 miles without a problem".

Millie and Lester are from the Atlantic Maritimes region of Canada-known for its legendary hospitality. They brought their hospitality with them-even though Millie was extremely busy.She said, "a woman's housework is never done" but she still had time for a detailed, guided tour of the vintage trailer despite the fact that she was actively preparing supper that night.

Millie also explained how the trailer nearly burned down, "we plugged in a TV and it started a fire that burned the wall and roof. When the fire department got there they did more damage with the water but the trailer was saved". The damage repair was done really well because Millie had to point out where the actual fire occurred.

The trailer has its own artwork thanks to a friend's daughter and the McKay's own grandchildren. Millie loves the personal touch, plus as she says, "it's like taking family along".

The Mercury has performed flawlessly across Canada twice because as Millie explained, "we never push it past 50-55 miles per hour because it's not good for the car". It's been driven through every type of weather from sleet to desert heat with a heavy early 50s trailer behind it and the car has never missed a destination. If Mercury still existed this 54 would be a poster car...

Millie's strongest attachment to the Coasters tour comes directly from the people involved in the trip. As she explained, "it's a wonderful life, you couldn't buy it, the people, the friends..."

That's the difference between memories of a Lady Gaga in 2 years versus memories of a Frank Sinatra in 100 years.

Jerry Sutherland

For the Coasters website please follow this link-