This story ran in the July 3, 2006 issue of Old Autos newspaper, along with about 40 photos. Old Autos newspaper may be subscribed to by calling 1-800-461-3457 or by writing Old Autos, PO Box 250, Bothwell, ON N0P 1C0 or email The cost is $38 for one year (24 issues) or $70 (48 issues) in Canada.
Wow! What a show! What a party! The Fleetwood Country Cruize-In was promoted as the summer’s most unique car show . . . and it definitely was!
The beautiful 120 acre country estate of Steve Plunkett located on the west edge of London was packed to capacity on June 10 with show vehicles, displays, thousands of people and the largest tent ever erected in Canada. Even the area roads were plugged at different times as hobbyists and the curious from all over came to partake in this enormous event and fundraiser. It is reported that participants from seven provinces and seven states attended along with numerous hobbyists and local media from all over North America.

Organizer and popular area hobbyist Steve Plunkett stated that the overwhelming turnout this year was beyond his wildest expectations. Until this year, it had been a “word of mouth” event which started with a visit from the Historical Car Society in 2003, grew to 400 in 2004 and last year 900 vehicles arrived. But this year, Steve decided to go all out as he could see the fundraising possibilities as well as creating a memorable event for car hobbyists . . . and he succeeded big time.
This year, about 2300 antique and collectible vehicles of all eras and types arrived along with over 10,000 spectators. Even many more were unable to get in . . . and this is Steve’s only regret. He thought they were prepared, but had no idea the response was this big and feels very bad for all those who came hoping to be part of the show and couldn’t be.
In fact, plans are already underway for next year and top priority is correcting the traffic and parking problem, so no hobbyists will be turned away. Twenty-three more acres have already been purchased, another parking area will be used and solutions to traffic flow and spectators parking will be worked out with neighbours as well as the possibility of another entrance. Keep tuned to Old autos for changes and dates.
But what a success this year’s event was! The main charity, Jesse’s Journey, was the recipient of over $55,000 alone. Many years ago in 1995, John Davidson of London pushed his son Jesse, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, across Ontario to raise money and public awareness of this terrible disease. In 1998, he also walked coast to coast and has been working ever since raising money for Jesse’s Journey - The Foundation for Gene and Cell Therapy. It was great to see both John and Jesse at the cruize-in banquet where John addressed the crowd thanking them for their participation. A painting was also presented by him to Steve. Eight other local charities also benefited from the days activities including the Komoka Optimists, London Community Players Palace Theatre project and many more.
Back to the show! Guest of honour this year was renowned Kustom Kar King George Barris of Hollywood and a lineup of his original movie vehicles he created including the Batmobile, the Munster Coach, Dragula, James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, the Monkee Mobile and the Super Van (Back to the Future).
These great vehicles were all parked in the front yard of Plunketts elegant home along with a few other unique vehicles. George Barris was on hand there most of the day for autographs and photos and all found him very accommodating.
Members of the London Community Players, who received a donation in support of their Palace Theatre restoration project, dressed up as Batman, Robin and the Munsters and patiently posed for photos with the movie cars.
Just inside the front gate, Dean Glover of Mt. Brydges had three Model T’s parked, one a Popcorn wagon. A horse drawn stage coach and a Landau carriage were brought and displayed by Tom Penhale of Springbank Farms, Bayfield, ON. In another area several beautiful custom cars, built over the years by local craftsman Ron Box of Denfield, were shown together.
Several vendors were set up in front and alongside the barn along with DJ Ken Chaplin of London who kept the show lively with tunes and announcements. Food and refreshments as well as souvenirs were also available in different areas.
At noon, everyone’s attention was to the sky where three vintage World War II Harvard airplanes put on a spectacular flying and stunt show. As a note of interest to Old Autos readers, one pilot, Pete Spence of Muirkirk is married to Louanne, one of our ad gals and typesetters here in Bothwell . . . and the heart stunt was done for her.
As one entered the golf course, the fabulous 1000 horsepower, V-16 powered Cadillac Sixteen concept car from General Motors, which was the talk of the 2003 Detroit International Auto Show, was displayed in an open tent along with other “new” Caddies. In front, Steve had parked three of his 1930’s V-16 Cadillacs, which included his newest acquisition, a 1937 limo which was the last year of V-16s. These made an interesting comparison.
The whole North-East area of the golf course was set aside for Corvette clubs. In fact, 516 Vettes from across Canada and the US filled this area with all eras, styles and colours, making a fabulous show in itself.
The rest of the golf course and all other open areas were filled with hundreds of area and beyond antique and collectible cars and trucks. Many noted a more than normal Cadillac presence throughout the field which would be a tribute to Steve. The Labatt Streamliner and keg truck were both there as well as several fire trucks, race cars and a gasoline tanker. Both RM Classic Cars of Blenheim and Legendary Motors of Oakville displayed some great vehicles. Even an early 30’s Buick Flxible bus with wicker seats from ChaCo bus lines Chatham, was shown as well as the London Police Paddy wagon.
Enthusiasts and spectators all enjoyed the beautiful grounds with bridges, waterfalls, little creeks and even an antique boat tied up at one of the ponds, as they wandered all over the estate. Some of these can be noted in the photos.
Also overwhelming was the “Cadillac garage” where Steve stores many of his cars. A steady lineup lasted most of the day to view the Cadillac cars and others in this 31 vehicle building. It also contains much memorabilia as well as Bob Hope’s 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, Van Johnston’s 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special 4-door hardtop and Ralph Pulitzer’s custom made Brunn bodied 1938 Cadillac roadster. See Old Autos Jan. 2 and Feb. 6, 2006 issues for more info. Steve’s other Cadillac V-16s were also shown there.
While most car shows or cruise-ins start to wind down by late afternoon, this one only lulled for a short time as a full evening program followed, including supper and dancing.
The largest pole tent ever erected in Canada measuring 100’ x 250 feet and four stories high was built and put up by Raymond Brothers, of London. This big top styled structure contained a huge stage and dance floor as well as 210 round tables with 10 chairs each to seat 2100 people for a sit down meal. Linen cloths covered the tables which were set with glass glasses, linen napkins, china dishes and silver cutlery. Special “Cruize-in” wine was available in white or red to go with the full course meal.
Another special tent for preparing the meal was directly behind the giant one and once everyone was seated, what has been recorded as the largest sit down meal ever held in London began. Served to the tables of the 2100 patrons was a delicious Caesar salad, a main course of barbecued chicken and ribs with potatoes and vegetable and followed by a strawberry dessert. This was quite an undertaking as the tables were close and if you weren’t there, 2100 people is a big crowd. It took some time, but it was well worth the wait. Steve has already asked the tent builders to add another 100 feet to the length for next year, but will not increase the number of tickets. He just wants more room for his guests and a bigger dance floor.
Local car enthusiast and radio personality, Jim Chapman emceed the supper program. John Davidson, as noted before, spoke briefly and special guest George Barris was called upon for some words. He has been to shows all over the world and remarked that he’s never seen anything that compared to this. I can hardly wait to tell Jay Leno when I get back to Hollywood that he should come and see it.
Steve also had great entertainment lined up for the evening. The local warm-up group “Vintage” got the evening off to a great start and the dance floor was even full as the meals were being served. Highlighting the evening was 1960’s Canadian crooner Bobby Curtola, who, along with his back-up band the Hot Rods, entertained till about midnight. It was a tremendous wind-up for a tremendous day.
Plans are already underway for next year with some changes and improvements already in the making. Keep tuned to Old Autos for updates and promotions or you can check out their website for next years plans or reminisce previous ones at
This story ran in the July 3, 2006 issue of Old Autos newspaper, along with about 40 photos. Old Autos newspaper may be subscribed to by calling 1-800-461-3457 or by writing Old Autos, PO Box 250, Bothwell, ON N0P 1C0 or email The cost is $38 for one year (24 issues) or $70 (48 issues) in Canada.