June 18th, 2014
Early Iron Club – Fort Frances Times
Two years ago, Doug MacDonald of Fort Frances was bitten by a bug. And if he never recovers from the effect it’s had on him, it’ll be too soon. The “bite” sent MacDonald headlong into the world of old cars. Living proof of that sits inside his garage, where the surroundings smack of vintage restoration.
Wednesday, 22 March 2000 – 1:00am
“I’ve always had an interest in cars but never had the resources to take part,” MacDonald, 29, said Saturday. “When I was 10 years old, the Corvette was my dream car so when I got my finances in order [later on], I purchased one. “In the summer of ’98, I spent a lot of time on the road [working], mainly in southern Ontario, and ended up going to a lot of antique car shows. “I got the bug and suddenly my Corvette wasn’t old enough for me anymore,” he remarked. He now owns five special interest vehicles, including a ’47 Nash Ambassador, ’51 Buick Special, ’79 Corvette, ’81 Camaro, and ’86 Buick Regal. Number six–a 1920s Nash Roadster–is just a negotiation away. “[The cars] are almost like members of the family–significant others,” smiled MacDonald, who is single. The Nash Ambassador is in the process of being restored. Although it had 95 percent of its parts intact when he bought it, right now it looks more like the pieces of a Swiss watch. Incidentally, he has the original factory service manuals for both the Nash and the Buick Special. His interest in restoring old cars takes up most of his spare time–typically four-hour evenings, depending on what’s going on during the week, and between eight and 10 hours a day on weekends. “You rebuild it from the ground up, every nut, bolt, and screw–most every piece will come off,” he noted. “I say to myself, ‘This month I have $200 to spend on my car addiction and these are the parts I’m going to buy.’” But MacDonald isn’t the only one around here with “the bug.” And like many other car enthusiasts, he wanted to network. He found just what he was looking for when he joined the International Early Iron Car Club here just over a year ago. With more than 40 members, the club is built on experience and fun. “Most [members] have cars but some don’t–they’re just enthusiastic about cars,” said MacDonald, who was elected club president back in January. “A lot of people think they shouldn’t join until they have a car but that’s not true.” Club activities include monthly meetings, technical workshops where members visit each others’ garages to check out car restoration projects, and evening car cruises during the summer months. The club also holds a car show in mid-August in Ranier. “I go for the fun of it–a lot of camaraderie,” said Al Smith of Fort Frances, who founded the club 32 years ago with Ray Ducharme and Steve Miller. While he’s without a vintage vehicle at present, Smith once owned a ’58 Edsel four-door sedan, a ’55 Chevy pickup 3/4 ton, and a ’30 Model A two-door sedan. “One aspect that is unique about the club is that we’re preserving a part of our history and culture,” reasoned Rob Kilgour of Devlin. “We’re [saving] these classic cars that, to a large extent, are going to the crushers.” A member of the club for about as long as MacDonald, Kilgour is the proud owner of a ’69 Chevelle, which he plans to drive often once a few more touch-ups are made to it. “What I’m building is a daily driver that is reasonable on fuel but that still has a bit of snap,” he smiled. The International Early Iron Car Club meets the first Tuesday of the month in International Falls, and new members are welcomed. For more information on meeting times and locations, contact Al Smith (274-7332) or Ed Baron (1-218-286-3469).