TRAVERSE CITY — Peter Low’s 1968 Dodge Charger RT didn’t look so good when he found it stashed away in a barn more than 10 years ago.
“It was under a couple of tarps literally rotting away,” Low said.
But the Charger now shines like new after years of restoration, and on Sunday Low displayed his vintage automobile along with more than 200 other classic car enthusiasts at the National Cherry Festival Old Town Classic Vehicle Show.
Low, of Traverse City, first learned about his “barn find” from a newspaper advertisement in 1999. He drove out to the seller’s Kingsley home south of Traverse City, looked the car over and asked to take it for a test drive.
The engine still worked, but the brakes were shot.
Low returned to the seller and asked about the bad brakes.
“He said ‘you didn’t ask if the brakes worked. You asked if it ran,’” Low said. “True story.”
Still Low purchased the car, stripped it down and built it back up.
He wondered on Sunday what the former owner might say if he could see the Charger now.
“I would love some day to drive out there and say ‘this is the hunk of junk I towed out of your yard for practically nothing,” Low said. “I think he would be in awe.”
The Charger was more than just a project for Low. He drove a car just like it as a teenager growing up in Evanston, Ill.
“It’s part of me reliving some of my high school years,” he said.
Classic car owners throughout Traverse City’s Old Town neighborhood told similar stories of personal connections to their cherished vehicles.
Jim and Erika Goss, of Kalkaska, showed off their 1984 20th Anniversary Ford Mustang, which Erika bought from a dealership in Ann Arbor following the model’s very limited release. She’s had the car ever since, and her sons were lucky enough to drive the Mustang to their high school proms.