Fred Cini of Wasaga Beach with his new Foose 69 Camaro
Fred Cini of Wasaga Beach with his new Foose 69 Camaro. Click image to enlarge

Story and photos by Jil McIntosh

Photo Gallery: 2007 Performance World Custom Car Show

I may spend most of my time driving new cars these days, but my first love is old ones: I started writing about cars back in 1983, not long after I bought my first hot rod. So it’s only natural that a recent Friday night found me prowling the halls of Performance World, an enormous Toronto-area show dedicated to all manner of rods, custom and muscle cars, racers, motorcycles, and even the tuner and urban lifestyle scene.

This show, now in its 18th year (it was renamed after 25 years as Motion), drew over 600 vehicles, most of them Canadian. While some are strictly for the show circuit, the majority of them are daily drivers, built and used by their owners: the odd stone chip just adds to the vehicle’s integrity.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the 1932 Ford – affectionately known as “The Deuce” to hot rodders – and there was a specific display dedicated to them; the show also included numerous 1957 Chevrolets, to mark that special model’s golden anniversary.

After having interviewed him by telephone regarding his car, I finally got a chance to see Fred Cini’s Foose 69 Camaro, one of only twenty built and undoubtedly the only one in Canada. The cars were designed by legendary builder and designer Chip Foose, and built by Unique Performance in Texas, using original 1969 Camaro bodies. Cini, who owns a number of cars including a 1970 Hemi Cuda convertible and 2005 Mercedes SLR McLaren, read about the Foose 69 in a magazine while on vacation; once he got home, he phoned up and said, “Where do I sign?” That was in 2004; he took delivery of the hand-built car on Valentine’s Day 2007.

Golden Chariot, a 1956 Chevrolet built in 1962 by the Alexander Brothers
Golden Chariot, a 1956 Chevrolet built in 1962 by the Alexander Brothers. Click image to enlarge

His big-block version features a 572 cid engine that makes 620 hp, along with an adjustable suspension, keyless entry, custom hood, and hideaway headlights that were optional on the original 1969 car. Foose himself made an appearance in Toronto in January at the Speedorama custom car show; Cini got Unique Performance to send him the car’s glovebox, which Foose signed. Cini then returned it to Texas, where it was incorporated into the car.

Cini’s only time behind the wheel so far was when he moved it a few feet into position in his display, since the winter weather has prevented any outside test-drives. But like all of his cars, he plans on driving his showpiece regularly come spring. (For more information on the Foose 69, visit UniquePerformance.)

Kopper Dust, a 1951 Oldsmobile built by George Barris in 1959
Kopper Dust, a 1951 Oldsmobile built by George Barris in 1959. Click image to enlarge

The show always pays tribute to history, and this year, two famous custom cars were on display. The Golden Chariot, a 1956 Chevrolet customized by the Alexander Brothers in 1962, took top honours in its class in the Detroit Autorama show in 1962, 1963 and 1964; beside it was Kopper Dust, a 1951 Oldsmobile built by George Barris in 1959 and featuring a chopped Carson top, handmade grille and 1957 Cadillac chrome.

Over in the corner, a massive cab-over truck caught my eye: I knew my friend Norm West had been building his 1944 Divco for some time and I’d seen some “construction” pictures, but it was the first time I’d seen it in the flesh.

1944 Divco COE owned by Norm West of Hamilton Ont
Perrito, immortalized in bronze on Norm West's 1944 Divco - Perrito is Norm's dog
At top, 1944 Divco COE owned by Norm West of Hamilton Ont (top); and Perrito – Norm’s dog – immortalized in bronze on the ’44 Divco. Click image to enlarge

Divco was in business from 1926 to 1986 and was primarily known for its milk trucks (Norm has one of those also, which he uses as a work vehicle in his custom glass business). The ’44 sits on a shortened Ford one-ton chassis and uses a blown Chevrolet engine for power; the paint scheme is designed to look like the truck was just pulled from a scrapyard, with rubbed-through fenders and fake rust. The handmade bronze hood ornament is modeled on Perrito, Norm’s beloved Jack Russell terrier; since Perrito is usually foul-tempered around strangers, his bronze likeness squirts water from its nether regions, operated by the key fob remote.

Rounding out the show was a demonstration of pinstriping, numerous vendors, the Funkmaster Flex Custom Car & Bike Show Tour, and several well-done car club displays. For more information on the show, visit PerformanceWorldCarShow.com

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