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Sun, Fun, Tunes And Classic Cars
Escalon resident Manuel Conde does a little touch up work on his 1968 Chevy Nova, purchased new from the old Friendly Chevrolet in Escalon and shown in the Lions Club Autumn Cruise for the first time this year.Times Photos By Marg Jackson

Saturday had it all if you enjoy spending some time strolling among shiny classics.

The annual Escalon Lions Club Autumn Cruise saw nearly 350 vehicles entered, filling up the city’s Main Street Park from First to Fourth streets and even some spilling out onto a portion of Main Street.

“Everything went well, breakfast attendance was good, lunch attendance was good, a lot of cars,” said Lions Club member and cruise coordinator Doug George.

The downtown cruise, hosted in the park the second Saturday of September, draws entries from throughout the Central Valley and raises thousands of dollars for Escalon High School scholarships. From Fords to Chevys, from fully restored to still-in-progress, car owners bring their prized possessions in for a day of sharing with others, talking some shop, enjoying the music, food, vendors and taking a chance on a wide variety of raffle prizes, silent and live auction items.

George said those attending were very pleased that the breakfast returned this year, served up by the American Legion Riders of Legion Post 263, and the Lions Club luncheon also was a big hit. Cruise T-shirts, calendars, hats and more were available to purchase and many trophies were given away, presented during the ‘cruise’ of vehicles on Main Street. A ’61 Buick was voted Best of Show.

Modesto resident Don Schrein had his 1927 Ford T-bucket on display and was also planning to take it to his Modesto High School Class of ’61 reunion later that same night.

“It’s just fun,” he said of taking part in the car show. “I like the camaraderie and I think each vehicle is unique, special to the car owner’s personality.”

Ron Virden of the Misfits Car Club had his 1957 Ford F100 – which is definitely a work in progress – on display, right down to the bumper being held on with baling wire.

Sharing some memories as they looked over a calendar were Ernie Hoff of Oakdale and Chuck Walker of Modesto. Both had vehicles entered this year and Hoff also spied his ’53 Oldsmobile in the calendar.

“Guess I better buy it now,” he said, chuckling.

Stockton residents Wendell and Dottie Haley were there with their 1966 Corvette, still in pristine condition, with all original parts. Also there, for the first time, was Escalon resident Manuel Conde, after getting his ’68 Chevy Nova into show-ready shape. He finished the final touches just a few hours before show time and said the car, which he bought new for $2,700 and then invested $300 more for tires, probably cost about six times that much to restore.

“I rebuilt the motor, took it down to the bare chassis and worked on it for about a year and a half,” Conde said of getting the Nova built back up. The car has 77,000 miles on it.

New to the show as well was Jesse Talamantes, likely one of the youngest exhibitors. The 2015 EHS graduate has had his ’66 Ford Falcon for about three and a half years and went to a couple of the Friday night pre-cruise events at Hula’s over the summer before entering his vehicle into the downtown cruise.

“This is cool, I like it,” he said of being surrounding by classics and fellow auto enthusiasts. “I’m trying to take mine to several shows.”