The 2016 North Oaks Corvette Generations Car Show drew thousands of car lovers and shoppers to Birmingham.
Les Perkinson III of Troy stopped to admire a “money-green” Corvette in downtown Birmingham, Mich. during the North Oaks Corvette Club’s Fourth Annual Corvette Generations Car Show on July 23.
“I like that one and the yellow one up there,” the 48-year-old said, gesturing toward a sleek Corvette parked near Old Woodward Avenue and Merrill Street. Both roads were closed to traffic during the Saturday day-long event.
“I like poppin’ colors,” he added.
Perkinson, and his 22-year-old son, Les Perkinson IV, share a love of sports cars. Both said they’d be happy with any of the more than 100 gleaming rainbow of ‘Vettes lined up on display along Old Woodward.
“I always have wanted to get a Corvette,” said Les III. “We are the Motor City. Why not have something that represents the city.”
North Oaks Birmingham Corvette Show closed Old Woodward and Merrill Street to traffic for the big event.
The Corvette show is a major element of Birmingham’s “Day on the Town” where the city’s merchants offer sidewalk sales, music on three stages and giveaways. The event is sponsored by the Birmingham Shopping District.
North Oaks Corvette Club member Skip Hartlerode, co-chair of the Corvette gathering with Sue Miller, counted 40 members of the club – all in bright neon-green T-shirts - in attendance. Matick Chevy in Redford Township, Mich., sponsors the North Oaks club.
Congratulations to members of the North Oaks Corvette Club for hosting another successful Corvette Generations Car Show.
Many other clubs joined the party, including the GMC Corvette Set club. Member Robert Jason drove his 2013 torch red Corvette to the show. “Clubs support one another,” he said.
The Washington Township resident declared the Birmingham show “awesome.”
“I like the downtown atmosphere, people are wandering around and it’s neat to see,” Jason said.
Pat Bean with the North Oaks club sat under a show’s canopy selling club raffle tickets. “I like the camaraderie of the club,” said the Milford resident. “We give back to the community.”
Part of the raffle proceeds go to Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition, a non-profit group that works in drug and alcohol abuse prevention among teens.
Bean, who came in her Matick Chevy Corvette, looked around at the crowd. “Everybody down here has been absolutely wonderful.”
With temperatures in the steamy 90s, people at the show carried water bottles or bought cold drinks.
Chef Adam Galloway with The Bird and The Bread restaurant was selling watermelon-and-hibiscus drinks under a canopy on the street.
“I mixed strawberries, peaches, watermelon, vanilla, lime juice and hibiscus for the tartness,” he said. “We just started and I think it’s going to go fast.”
Across the street, Toledo Corvette owners Don Beam and Steve Kosik smoked cigars in the shade.
“We got here at 7:30 a.m.,” Beam said. They won out with their early arrival.
“We got the tree,” he said, pointing out one of the few trees along the wide street.
Beam ventures out in his 2007 victory red Corvette up to 30 times during a summer. “We’re in Michigan more than Ohio,” he said.
“I love it here. People are friendly. There are gorgeous flowers, and good restaurants.”
Kosik, who drove a 1991 black Corvette to the show, added that Birmingham was “nice and clean.” Both men, members of the Glass City Corvette Club, won trophies in the 2015 show.
When questioned what they love about Corvettes, Kosik quipped, “Is there any other car?”
Lolita Sierens of Rochester Hills showed off the family 2003 electron blue Z06 Corvette.
“I like this location,” she said. “Women who come like that there are stores (for shopping).”
Sierens said she snagged a good sale on shoes at one vendor’s sidewalk sale tent.
She and her husband Dennis, who joined the GMC Corvette Set club in 2002, own two other Corvettes – a 1996 and a 2007.
She walked over to point out the 2003’s snazzy painted engine covers that Dennis, who retired from Dura Convertible Systems, designed.
“He comes up with special things like this,” she said.
Wandering through the show were Pokémon Go players Ricky Kevonian and Tony Fabbri, both 17. The two laughed, talked and stared at their cellphones.
They said they had been searching for the game’s characters since mid-morning.
“We caught an Eevee (a Pokémon character that resembles a long-eared dog) on one of the (Corvette) cars,” said Fabbri.
More than 100 colorful Corvettes lined both side of Old Woodward Avenue through downtown Birmingham.
Andrew Sulich of Birmingham sat near his 1965 Nassau blue Corvette convertible with son, Evan, 17.
Sulich, a North Oaks Corvette Club member, purchased the car a year ago from a Chicago resident.
“I don’t take it out in the rain,” he said.
Andrew and Evan take a ride in the Corvette every Saturday night.
The car has a 365 horse powered engine. “That wasn’t standard,” Sulich said.
Andrew, a physician, loves the Birmingham show.
“Corvette people are the most gracious and they seem to be happy,” he said. “Every car here has a story and people swap stories.”
He also appreciates the father-son time with the car.
“It keeps my son from the electronics. I’m glad he’s not at a (phone or computer) pressing buttons,” he said.
North Oaks Birmingham Corvette Show visitors could walk main street while shopping during Birmingham's Day On The Town.
Just up the street, retirees Jim and Arlene Schwab talk with neighbors near the Schwab’s 1982 silver-and-dark blue Corvette.
“We’re out every week in it, maybe three times a week,” said Jim. The Clinton Township couple, which take part in the Corvette Club of Detroit and also Holy Cross Cruisers, have owned the 1982 since 2008.
“I just love old cars,” said Jim.
Arlene laughed. “We’re living out our past.”
The Schwabs once owned a 1967 Corvette, but it was stolen in Florida.
“We flew home,” said Jim.
Mainly Jim drives the 1982.
“The first time I drove, he was more nervous than I was,” Arlene said. "After that I thought, ‘I’ll let him drive.’”
Around the town, shoppers scanned stores’ sales along Maple Road, Old Woodward Avenue (home to the Woodward Dream Cruise later this month) and Pierce Street.
Near Pierce and Maple streets, shoppers looking to cool down walked through a device spraying a light mist onto the street.
Royal Oak residents Sara and Daniela, who didn’t give their last names, pushed two-month-old Simone in a stroller.
“We are here for the Corvettes and the shopping,” said Daniela, who sipped a cool lemonade.
Birmingham Shopping District director John Heiney said the day was going well for the town’s 100 vendors.
“The shopping day is great and the Corvettes are another reason to come out,” he said.
“The cars are a great addition to our event. And we’re happy there were no worries of rain.”
North Oaks Birmingham Corvette Show 2016
Diana and John Dawson of Clarkston, who own a 2000 pewter-colored Corvette, had just joined the North Oaks club. “It’s such a nice bunch of people,” said Diana.
“We’re keeping ‘the wave’ alive,” Diana explained, raising her hand and waving. People at the event talked about the tradition that Corvette owners on the road always wave to one another.
John, a former GM supplier employee, said North Oaks is a “small, intimate club where everyone is super-friendly.”
Around bustling Birmingham, people walked their dogs, rode bikes and chatted with friends.
At the Jabs Gym booth, one woman worked up a sweat during a boxing demonstration with a trainer.
A Chesterfield Township woman stood near her Corvette, surrounded by tire cleaners, buffing rags and special sprays.
“I’m meticulous with the car,” said Mary Beth Erne-Vanlewen about her 2011 gleaming black Grand Sport Corvette.
Wearing her blonde hair pulled back, Erne-Vanlewen grabbed a long-handled cotton swab and ran it along one of the car’s joints.
“Look,” she said, showing a tiny amount of wax on the swab’s tip.
She bought her “dream car” in 2015 and even recalls the exact date. “June 17,” said Erne-Vanlewen, who explained she is from a “car family.”
She said men often treat their cars with kid gloves “but I never met any woman doing what I do.”
She has prizes for her hard work. “I received first place for People’s Choice the first year I brought my car here,” she said. “And I just took first at the Canterbury Village Corvette Show.”
Rob Sopchak of Macomb stopped to admire a 1960 Corvette convertible – a show-stopping silver coupe trimmed with white.
“I own the 2003 50th anniversary edition over there,” he said, looking south on Old Woodward.
“Corvettes are just unique. I got mine new four years ago.”
Sopchak, whose anniversary-edition-red car won first place in stock C5s at the Birmingham 2015 show, raved about coming to town for the event.
“I love the way the streets are closed off and that the Corvettes get all the parking spots. I just love it.”
Corvette Generations Car Show 2016 Winners
BEST OF SHOW
Stock: Dennis Sierens, 2003 Modified
Matick’s Choice: Kevin Jeffery, 1969 Stock
Birmingham’s Choice: Steve Destrampe, 2014 Modified
1. Harley and Barbara Buchanan, 1962
2. Keith Honhart
1. J.T. Johnson, 1962
2. Ron and Nancy Reale, 1964
1. Kevin Jeffrey, 1969
2. Gordon Henry, 1971
1. Walt and Sheryl Weiss, 1996
2. Mark Mullin, 1993
1. Gary Woodlington, 1998
2. Martin Rosenbaum, 2000
1. Mary Beth Erne-Vanlewen, 2011
2. Robert Jason, 2013
1. Wayne Little, 2016
2. Mark Madion, 2016
C1: Jack Driver, 1960
C2: Tom and Bonnie Baiiley, 1964
C3: 1. Matt Leone, 1979, 2. Glenn Wurm, 1974
C4: 1. Steve Kosik, 1991, 2. Roger Steeley, 1974
C5: 1. Dennis Sierens, 2003 2. Alvin Kelley, 1999
C6: 1. Cindy and Don Boozer, 2008, 2. Michael Plumb, 2008
C7: 1. Jim Wolfe, 2014, 2. Roger Colosimo, 2014