Light glinted off a deep red 1951 Ford Mercury Saturday afternoon at the 36th annual Roseburg Benefit Car Show at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
The paint has crushed up jewelry in it to make it sparkle, owner Wayne Williams said. The Mercury was used in the classic 1973 movie “American Graffiti” and has been restored to its original glory.
The car was one of 75 vehicles on display in the annual benefit organized by local car clubs, the Stray Angels and the Umpqua Flatheads. Cars from as far back as the 1910s lined Douglas Hall.
Proceeds from this year’s show will benefit the United Community Action Network and Casa de Belen.
Stray Angels chairman Don Larson said the group chose those two causes because they are local and in need right now.
“This year those two are in trouble with the way the economy is so we figured we would try to help them out,” he said.
He said exact fundraising figures for each year are unclear, but explained the benefit has raised $145,644 for various local charities over the last 35 years.
Casa de Belen is a Roseburg transitional home for homeless teens and families with teens and UCAN helps low income families in Douglas County.
Umpqua Flatheads member Bob Nichols said the groups are trying to get the younger generations involved in classic car restoration.
“We’ve relaxed the standards to get younger people into the show,” he said. “Youth are the future of this thing and we’re trying to get them more involved.”
The show offers trophies in categories such as people’s choice, best overall display, kids choice, best motorcycle and best new generation car, he said.
The new generation prize goes to someone younger than 25 who entered a vehicle.
Stray Angels member Dick Thornley, 82, went to see the cars although he did not enter one this year.
“It’s amazing what people have done to a piece of junk,” he said. “You gotta support them to make them think their efforts are worth it.”
Coquille resident Leon Brown, 73, drove his bright red 1960 Chevy Corvair to the show.
“I like the peace and satisfaction of bringing the cars back and the camaraderie with the fellow restorers,” he said. This was his kickoff show for the year, with many more to come, he said.
“Now they start hot and heavy,” he said.
Williams said he plans to take his Mercury to approximately 20 more car shows this year.
“I travel all over the USA with the stars of American Graffiti,” he said. “It’s just fun. I’m retired and I enjoy doing it. I enjoy doing benefits.”
Nichols said he likes car shows because they bring unlikely friends together.
“It’s really fun, there’s lots of terrific cars out there,” he said. “It’s the first show of the season, the one that gets them all started.”
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4211 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.