Classic Cars

Triumphant return for a vintage vehicle

Triumphant return for a vintage vehicle

Ahead of the Super Run auto show, event organizers held a special 65-year-old throwback to Murray Chevrolet in Brandon over the weekend.

For over 40 years, Ernie Gruhn has been the owner and manager of Ernie’s Auto shop in Winnipeg. Over the weekend, Gruhn brought along a prized possession passed to him by his family – a 1957 Buick Special Riviera coupe that shared a connection to the Murray family.

Clair Murray, one of the dealership’s three founding brothers, sold the car to Gruhn’s father in Souris in February 1957. The vehicle was brought to the dealership alongside a series of vehicles to promote an indoor display of what spectators can expect to see at the 2022 Super Race in Brandon.

Gruhn, 68, said his family had just moved from Winnipeg to the Minto and Boissevain area shortly before in 1956.

“The thing about this car that’s unusual, my dad didn’t like automatics, this car has a three-speed manual…99.5 percent of Buicks and Oldsmobiles were automatics,” Gruhn said. “My father was in Souris, he went to the lot, Clair was going to get him a better deal to buy an automatic. It’s only one of two I’ve ever seen.”

Growing up, Gruhn said he remembered the Buick becoming a family car, driving kids to school for three years. The dark burgundy color was originally meant to be two-tone.

“I have a bill for 34,000 miles in 1960. Now it’s almost 95,000 miles,” Gruhn said.

“It was my mom and dad’s only new car that they bought together.”

In 1975, he said his father stopped driving the Buick and took it to a car show in 1978, where it was last driven. After her father’s death in 1980, Gruhn said her mother would never let anyone in the garage come to see her, and the car began to deteriorate.

“That car sat there for 27 years in a damp garage with no cement floor, and she didn’t care,” Gruhn said.

In 2007, the car passed to him after the death of Gruhn’s mother. Over the September long weekend, he visited his family’s old estate in Westman and picked up the Buick. Gruhn said in his entire life that the car has never failed to start up to this day. He couldn’t explain why.

“The day I picked her up from the farm, she wouldn’t start. She was blowing flames on the carburetor. It’s like saying, ‘I’m not going anywhere, I’m staying here,'” Gruhn mentioned.

Gruhn repaired the vehicle in Winnipeg and fixed the engine problem. It wasn’t until 2011 that he started driving the Buick, and the car received a paint job, matching the color closest to its original burgundy look.

Looking ahead to Super Run, Gruhn said the car has served him well over the past decade and he’s excited to have it part of the feature showcase in July.

“Reviewing a car after 65 years, I don’t know if it’s the oldest, but I think so, being driven here is amazing,” Gruhn said.

“I always tell people, it’s not my car, it’s my dad’s car.”

Dave Burba, one of Super Run’s main organizers, said he recently launched his vehicle registration website and more than 50 vehicles have been registered.

With the tours now finalized, Burba said he is working on another showcase to take place in April as excitement builds for the show’s return.

“We’re definitely expecting over 800 cars this year,” Burba said.

“This show was an indoor show to get people excited for Super Run.”

He said the group was looking forward to having a big downtown presence this year in the run-up to July’s affair, with parts of Rosser Avenue closed for a big car showcase. Burba said they expect people from as far away as Surrey, B.C., Minneapolis, Thunder Bay and a group of south Chicago vehicle owners to attend the event. of 2022.

“We’ll see the fruits of labor so to speak over the last couple of years of people working on their cars,” Burba said.

Gruhn told The Sun he was excited to see all the different hotrods and thinks all cars are meant to be driven to avoid breaking down.

“When I left the store on Friday to come to Brandon, it was snowing. The guys were like, ‘Aren’t you afraid to take it out?’ I said he survived 17 winters, he was not afraid,” Gruhn said with a laugh.

The 1957 Buick Special Riviera Coupe and others will be available to Westman residents to view the showcase at Murray Chevrolet through the end of the day Tuesday.

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Twitter: @JosephBernacki