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2013 Fleetwood Country Cruize-In draws thousands

Rock ‘n’ roll and an eclectic mix of vehicles at annual "automotive extravaganza like no other"

Published: June 17, 2013, 10:00 AM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 12:44 PM

2013 Fleetwood Cruize-In - assorted vehicles

LONDON, ON – More than 3,000 vehicles and 25,000 spectators filled the sprawling Plunkett estate last weekend for the ninth annual Fleetwood Country Cruize-In.

The three-day event, organized by Cadillac collector and self-confessed gearhead, Steve Plunkett, is billed as "an automotive extravaganza like no other" – and that description is accurate.

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The Cruize-In always features an eclectic mix of vehicles, from vintage machines such as Model Ts and brass-era classics, to muscle cars, hot rods, customs and even classic trucks. And again this year, there was a flotilla of Amphicars for spectators to catch a ride on as they circulated through a pond and stream flowing through the 42-hectare property.

Acknowledged by some experts as the largest outdoor car show in North America, spectators are drawn to this event because of the vast number of vehicles on display.

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But a highlight of any visit is the opportunity to tour Plunkett’s personal auto salon, with a lavish interior designed t o replicate the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria in New York, where luxury automakers used to show off their latest products to the rich and famous.

Here, visitors can get up close to several gems from that era, including a couple of priceless one-of-a-kind cars that are highlights of the collection: a 1934 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Coupe built by Fleetwood and a 1938 Cadillac Series 60 Roadster with the body custom-built by Brunn.

In addition, there’s also another museum housing many of Plunkett’s collection of more than 70 vehicles, including about 40 other Cadillacs, many of historic significant to the brand.

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Of course, the Plunkett collection is only a small part of the show’s attraction. Thousands of vehicles of every style, type and era are scattered randomly across the estate’s lush green lawns and private golf course.

Vintage cars sit shoulder to shoulder with immaculately restored muscle cars. Modern performance machines share space with pristine classic sports cars. In one area there’s a gathering of beautiful old commercial vehicles, including the Labatt brewery’s sleek Streamliner transport truck.

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In the paddock beside the horse barn, a trio of vintage military vehicles attract a crowd. Elsewhere, numerous car clubs have set up displays featuring members’ machines – Corvettes, Thunderbirds, Mopars, Mustangs and more. Indeed, this is a show that literally has something for everyone.

In addition to the cars, the Fleetwood event is also a tribute to the tunes and people of the rock ‘n’ roll era. Celebrities from the ‘60s and ‘70s drop in, some to smile and sign autographs; others to entertain at a couple of fund-raising concerts held under a huge big-top tent.

This year, Mary Wilson from the Supremes, Mitch Ryder, the Association and Paul Revere’s Raiders jammed for the crowd Friday evening, with one-time teen idol Bobby Vinton rocking under the canvas Saturday night.

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Special guests during the weekend included actors Bo Hopkins and Candy Clark from the classic movie American Graffiti; California customizing legends George Barris and Gene Winfield and motorsports marketing legend Linda Vaughn, better known by racers and racing fans as Miss Hurst Golden Shifter.

Proceeds from the event, which has generated more than $1.5 million to date, help support more than 30 charities in the London area.

Be sure to check out our full gallery of photos from the 2013 Fleetwood Country Cruize-in.

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