2020 Fall Tech Day

On November 7th, our Motorsports Director, Mike Sutton arranged for us to visit PMD Garage, in Pontiac.

The weather has been unusually warm for the last few days, with highs around 70’s.  Unfortunately, some of our members had already placed their cars in hibernation, prior to the warmer weather, but a few diehards were looking for a good reason to drive to another event.  We had a good turnout with 19 in attendance and 9 Vipers.

Our host, Gordon Heidacker, who was a former Executive with Chrysler, and involved in the original development of the Viper.  Gordon introduced his team and gave us a very informative talk on what PMD is doing today and working on for the future.  From advanced Viper engine development to building state of the art electric karts for M1 Concourse, PMD Garage has fascinating development projects that you will never see anywhere else.  Gordon also mentioned that they are investigating creating Viper parts that are no longer available to the public.  Our members loved the idea and were quick to make suggestions of parts they are unable to find.

After Gordon’s talk, members roamed around their very unusual building to see the various classic cars being stored or projects underway.

We want to thank Mike for coordinating this fun event and Gordon for taking the time to host our group.

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2020 Fall Tech Day

2020 October Cruise Night – Luigi’s

We’ve now settled into cooler days, as the month of October comes to a close. The morning of the 21st, saw rain in the early hours but dried up by mid-day.  It actually turned out to be a beautiful day with sun and temps in the hi-50’s.

Our Cruise Director, Rick Jakacki, found us a new venue on the west side, called Luigi’s Trattoria Pizzeria, in Livonia.  In addition, our Cruise-Maestro, Bob Swartz, created a mini fall cruise to the restaurant from Waterford.

Luigi’s was very accommodating for our group with parking in the rear, our own waitstaff and tables outdoors.  Members were given the choice of inside or outside dining.  Most opted for dining alfresco.  We had 12 Vipers and 23 in attendance.

While the sun was still out, it was quite pleasant dining outside.  Once the sun set, it got a little chilly, but everyone braved the cold and had a great time, enjoying great food and great company.

Our beloved Diane Cipponeri got a little chilled and our very debonair Tony Smith jumped in to save a damsel in distress.

Traditionally there are no Cruise Nights in November or December, so it was good to see everyone for our last Cruise Night of the year.  Hopefully for the new year, we’ll have some new options for getting together.

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2020 October Cruise Night - Luigi's

2020 Lutz Do a Fall Color Tour

As Michigan heads in fall, the weather in October can be a gamble, but on Saturday the 10th, it turned out to be spectacular.  The morning started out on the cool side but the temps quickly rose, and headed to a high of about 75 degrees.

Our Coordinator, Jon Block, came up with a event, that beat almost all of our attendance records.  In addition to a fall cruise, Jon was able to have our club go to the Lutz Farm (as in Bob), and meet the legend himself.  As you can imagine, the event registration was off the charts.  There were over a 130 in attendance with 66 Vipers.

The attendees met in the morning at a central location, and headed off in their respective groups, arranged by Viper “generations”.  Each group left at 10 minute intervals, and enjoyed a scenic ride thru Michigan’s fall colors.  Eventually each group rolled into the Lutz Farm in order of production.  We were in awe of the beautiful sprawling grounds which included swans in their scenic pond, endless green pastures to park the cars, an all purpose “garage” now used for events and a soon to be finished “addition” to a barn.  Our members and their guest enjoyed lunch, salad, cake and beverages, courtesy of MCVO.

One of our invited guests, Jean Mallebay-Vacqueur, former Director of Chrysler’s Scientific Lab and General Manager of Special Projects was able to attend and enjoy this special day honoring Bob.  Our Coordinator, Jon, presented Bob with a personal gift of a Gen 1 Viper model, with all 130 names that attended that day, written on the car.  MCVO also presented Bob with a few mementos and gifts from our club.

Bob Lutz graciously autographed everything that was placed in front of him, including all manner of car parts.  With his cigar in hand, each of us will remember meeting this man who did so much for the auto industry, and our historic visit.

We want to thank Jon Block who spent countless hours and sleepless nights preparing for this event.  We also want to thank the small army of volunteers who helped with every aspect and made sure nothing was overlooked.  This is only a small list, but we need to make sure these people are recognized for their efforts.  Many were working behind the scenes and never got a chance to enjoy the cruise or gatherings.  They are: Mike/Diane Cipponeri, Bob Swartz, Mike Sutton, Susan Andring, Rick Jakacki, and Marianne Peggie.

Lastly, our sincere thanks go to Bob Lutz and his wife Terri, who let us come to their farm and entertain well over a hundred people.  Years from now, our members will still be talking about this day.

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Mike Doljevic consistently takes some beautiful photos and this event was no exception.  You may click here to be taken, to his collection.

2020 Lutz Do a Fall Color Tour

2020 September Cruise Night – Little Daddy’s

The weather in Michigan has been gradually cooling with temps in the 60’s to 70’s. Mother Nature apparently wanted us to have a beautiful cruise night and provided us with a high of 82 degrees and sunny skies all day. Even as we went into the evening, it was still very pleasant. The very next day, the temps dropped back to being only a high of 60.

Little Daddy’s loves classic cars and has hosted many local clubs with their large parking lot and excellent service. They even offered us inside seating and outside tables, near our cars, for those that felt more comfortable being outside. We had our own waitress outside, Dawn, who took fantastic care of everyone.

We had a great turnout with 17 Vipers and 30 in attendance. We had a couple of notable “news” items: Paul Choukourian stopped by in his beautiful Ford GT. We had a couple, Jim and Kathy Kos, who recently joined our Facebook group. They saw our post and decided to come mingle with the group. Hopefully, they’ll decide to join our club.

The club purchased humous and pita as an appetizer, and everyone had a great time catching up with their Viper club mates.

We want to thank our Club Cruise Night Director, Rick Jakacki, for a fantastic evening. We know it’s a difficult task to find restaurants, that have great parking, food and service for a group to meet, during the pandemic. We also want to thank Ann Rappaport for the photos.

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2020 September Cruise Night - Little Daddy's

2020 Lighthouse Tour

Overcast skies greeted us Thursday morning as thirteen Vipers rolled into the meetup place. At the last minute, two of our members were not able to bring their Vipers due to mechanical issues. They were able to bring their daily drivers and still enjoyed the tour. Hopefully we will see them soon in their “good as new” Vipers.

Temperatures were comfortable, sometimes requiring a light jacket, sweater or long sleeves.

Overall, we had a great time with minimal issues, some light rain and mostly overcast skies.
We had such a great group that were able to make it the best MCVO Lighthouse tour of the year!

Lighthouses visited:
St. Joseph North Pier Inner Light
South Haven South Pierhead Light
Holland Harbor – “Big Red” Lighthouse
** USS Silversides Submarine & Museum **
Muskegon South Breakwater Light
White River Lighthouse
Little Sable Lighthouse
Point Betsie Lighthouse
Mission Point Lighthouse

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2020 Lighthouse Tour

2020 Snakes in the Grass

This was our third Snakes in the Grass, at Canterbury Village, where we partner with the Cobra and Shelby Clubs.  This year we were surprised that the Jaguar Concour & British Showcase, would be held at the same time on the grounds of Canterbury.  I was truly impressed with the care they took in restoring and maintaining these vehicles.

It was a beautiful day, with temps starting out in the high 50’s but quickly rising as the sun came out.  The grounds were fully filled with beautiful classic cars everywhere you looked.  MCVO was there with a stunning display of Vipers.  We had 33 in attendance with 22 Vipers.  As I browsed around the grounds, on numerous occasions, I heard people saying “I’m going over to see the Vipers”.

I have to say, this was by far, the best year yet for this event.  We want to thank Bruce Heckman and George Acree (Cobra) for coordinating a fantastic gathering.

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2020 Snakes in the Grass

2020 August Cruise – Tedson Industries

On August 12th, our Cruise Night Director, Rick Jakacki, treated us to a very special evening.

Rick teamed up with our host, Steve Marek, of Tedson Industries, to show us their state of the art 25,000 foot facility.

From small fasteners to full-scale vehicle builds, Tedson Industries can create it all. Their vast experience allows them to turn your vision into reality.  We even got to see Rick’s classic truck being updated with a hand-built headliner.

Founded in 1985, Tedson Industries, Inc. has been a staple of the machining and prototype world for over 35 years.  They have vast experience in the fields of automotive concept & advanced product development, marine, industrial, visual imaging, sports & leisure, and aircraft—just to name a few.  Tedson Industries, also has design capabilities and consistently seeks new challenges.

We had a fantastic turnout with 40 people and 23 Vipers in attendance.  It was a perfect summer evening for the event, where MCVO provided the attendees with beverages and dinner.  Our thanks to Bob Swartz for coordinating the dinner, and Rich Maccani’s “delivery” service.

I’m told that some of our members headed off to Woodward after the event, for their own mini-cruise.

Our sincerest thanks go out to Steve (Marek) and his Shop Manager, Steve Legas, for taking the time to open his shop to our club.  Thank you to Rick Jakacki, for taking the time to plan and help with the event.  Rick also assisted with the tours, was very knowledgeable and did a great job of tour guide.

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2020 August Cruise - Tedson Industries

2020 LaFontaine Car Show and Cruise

Our club was invited to the LaFontaine Car Show, in Fenton.  Bob Swartz decided that rather than have a plain, boring car show, he’s liven it up with a scenic cruise with our Vipers, to the show, and make a spectacular entrance.  Bob was definitely on to something, he had 14 cars and 20 people in attendance.

We’ll let Bob take it from here:
“We cruised in as a group to the LaFontaine of Fenton dealership’s car show at 5pm sharp on August 6th.

It was a great finale to a nice, comfortable country cruise to this excellent car show.
And a good start for us to enjoy the show.

Lots of variety in addition to our Vipers. Muscle, Hot Rods, Oldies, Barn Finds, Modern – all were there in abundance.

Plus the free food truck; we love that!
Some prizes.
Good DJ music.
Fine friends and new folks to meet.
And beautiful weather for a cruse and show.

I think we had it all.
Thanks MCVO for this excellent FREE event of interest.”

We want to thank Bob for his many years of support for our club.  Time and time again, Bob has volunteered to create an event or help make an existing event even better.  We also want to thank Mike Doljevic for his beautiful photos.

(Note: To view all photos for this event, move your mouse or cursor toward the picture, then click on the directional arrows that will appear.) You may also click on a photo where you’ll be sent to Flickr and can download your favorite.
2020 LaFontaine Car Show and Cruise

2020 High Octane Cars & Coffee Viper Day – Part 2

If you recall, at the end of May, we had Viper Day Part 1.  The owners of High Octane so enjoyed having our Vipers last year, that they proposed 2 Viper days this year.  We did not disappoint for either outing.

Our second gathering, was held on August 1, and we couldn’t have picked a better morning. Our summer has been spectacular this year.  The sky was a little overcast, but temps were in the high 70’s, low 80’s.

Vipers starting arriving before 8am and continued all the way thru the event.  We had a fantastic turnout with over 36 people in attendance and 34 Vipers.  We pretty much filled their lot, and cars were stacked all over.  It was an impressive sight.

We want to thank the owner of High Octane Bakery, Tom Llewellyn, for hosting our cars and providing us with their free tasty coffee and donuts, for the cruisers.

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2020 High Octane Part 2

2020 Hidden Gems of Pontiac

Our “Gems of Pontiac” day started at the private, never-open-to-the-public, collection of Larry Smith, founder and former owner of Autometric Collision.  Although Larry’s collection is split between here and Scottsdale, we were able to see what a real collector, driving enthusiast, automotive historian, and skilled mechanic, body man, and painter, can accomplish.  Larry’s cars were, in his words, simply “Cars that I like!”  He showed us his 1935 Hoffman, with a water-cooled X-8 engine.  There is only 1 made, and little is known about it.  Looking for some speed (aren’t we always?) then some Corvette’s, Porsche’s, and Shelby’s were in ample supply! And then the spectacular 1936 Stout Scarab, shown last year (and winning) at the Monaco Concours d’Elegance.  His interest remains varied, as he told us that his first car to collect was a Triumph TR3 (also in the collection).

We then took a short drive to the PMD Garage, where Gordon Heidacker, a former Chrysler executive with ties to Team Viper, told us about their Viper capabilities!  They had 50 Viper engine blocks inside, and are in the process of acquiring all of the existing Viper parts stock from Chrysler, for a full-service one stop shop for all Viper owners, for both stock originality and performance engine build!

Our last stop was at LBI Limited, a national sales organization of fine collector and sports cars, and where else could one go to find 4 Vipers for sale…but not average ones, low mileage, a GTS, and at the top of the heap, the Team Oreca Viper that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans!  Don’t we hope that one stays in the Detroit area!  A fun day for MCVO members with a turnout of 26 car enthusiasts and 16 Vipers.

We want to give a quick shoutout to our pop quiz winner, Tony Smith.

Editor’s note: We want to thank Jon Block for taking the time to create this truly unique event, and authoring this abbreviated article. The full article will be published in our next upcoming Newsletter, along with photos from Jon and Bruce Heckman.  We also want to thank Jason Pontello for taking the time to photograph the event and send them to the club.  Jason’s photos are highlighted here.

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2020 Hidden Gems of Pontiac