Classic cars take center stage

Jayden Steele, 4, of Highland Park, poses in front of a 1948 Chevy Deluxe Fleetline at the 19th Annual Cruise Night along Brand Blvd. in Glendale.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

After her husband died in 1999, Sandy Norris began fixing up his 1951 Ford Convertible.

She fixed the engine and painted the exterior Georgia peach.

“I didn’t have any choice,” she said Saturday afternoon at Glendale’s 19th annual Cruise Night.

Her husband had upholstered the seats a similar color before he died of esophageal cancer, and she wanted the inside and outside to match.

Ever since the La Crescenta resident upgraded the car, she’s been displaying it at shows, her husband’s wish. He had bought her a pearl-white 1949 Ford and then got the convertible so the two could show off the classic cars together.

Norris’ convertible was one of roughly 400 cars on display along three blocks of Brand Boulevard in downtown Glendale. In the past, the event took up five city blocks, but as the city faced financial constraints, the event’s budget was slashed to $42,000 from its previous $103,000.

Glendale kept the same number of pre-1979 cars on display, but trimmed entertainment costs.

A few blocks down from Norris’ Ford, 9-year-old Anthony Valentino checked out a 1970 Chevelle SS that matched his yellow T-shirt. He liked the Chevelle because it looked like a model car he had at home in El Sereno.

It was Anthony’s first time at Cruise Night, but he is no stranger to classic cars. His father, Tony Valentino, owns two Chevrolets — a 1931 and a 1951.

“It looks like a Munster car,” said Valentino of the ’31 Chevy, adding that one day he may take the 1951 Chevy to a car show.

While Anthony perused a line of Chevelles, Liz Lee of Pasadena eyed a sky-blue 1957 Ford Thunderbird. Lee and her two daughters, Irene, 4, and Lahee, 2, shouted “cheese” as they posed for a photo in front of the car known as “baby bird.”

Arnold Bercovitz, who bought the car in 1970, had wanted a Thunderbird since his cousin got one as a high school graduation gift in 1957. A few months ago, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) waved from the car’s parade seat during a Burbank procession.

On Saturday, a stuffed panda named Pookie sat in Gatto’s spot next to a framed copy of the car’s factory invoice. The invoice included a $2.30 charge for 10 gallons of gas.

“Gas was 23 cents a gallon back then. Can you believe that?” Bercovitz said.


Follow Brittany Levine on Twitter and Google+