By Scott Hammers

The Bulletin

Jutting tailfins, whitewall tires and gleaming chrome filled Bend’s Drake Park on Saturday, for the Central Oregon Classic Chevy Club’s Flashback “Cruz” car show.

Now in its 29th year, the Flashback Cruz is the biggest car show in Central Oregon. Joan Spongberg, chairwoman of the show for the past 21 years, said the show that once opened its doors only to Chevy owners has changed a great deal over the years.

“People started to say, ‘Well, I want my Ford friends to come,’” she said. “So that changed.”

Today, the show welcomes cars of all makes from 1979 or earlier. Though Chevrolets and other American makes from the 1950s or earlier predominated, Saturday’s show included a handful of Austin-Healeys and MGs and other British sports cars, a Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia modified to run on electric power, ’70s-era Datsuns and a 1976 Dodge motor home, its top lopped off and upholstered throughout with pink and orange faux fur.

Scott Beach, of Tuscon, Arizona, brought his 1955 Chevrolet 210 by way of Seattle, one of a series of road trips he expects will put roughly 5,000 miles on the car this summer.

Beach said he’s never understood why so many of his fellow classic car enthusiasts are reluctant to take their vehicles out on the road.

“My philosophy is, they build ’em to drive ’em, so that’s what we do.”

Beach said he had the same car as a high school student, albeit modified with a jacked-up, dragster-style rear end and slick racing tires. The current car is modified as well, though with an eye toward comfort — air conditioning, power steering, a modern stereo and a host of other upgrades unavailable nearly 60 years ago.

“I wouldn’t say it’s as nice as a 2014 car, but it isn’t a 1955 car either,” he said.

At 19 feet long, the pink 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville owned by John and Karoline Beck casts a sizable shadow, and Saturday, the Bend couple settled in behind the car for a little afternoon shade.

Karoline Beck said her husband, John, bought the car for her as a 10th anniversary present at an auction in Reno. When he handed her the title, tears streamed down her face.

“My dad drag-raced Cadillacs. I grew up with Cadillacs,” she said. “This was my dream car when I was about 6 years old.”

John Beck said he’d actually planned to surprise his wife with a different car he’d purchased at the Reno auction, but he had to pivot and quickly resell it when they discovered the pink Cadillac.

“I didn’t know it was there. I just got lucky,” he said.

Cruz participants have one final event today, a drive up the Cascade Lakes Highway to Mount Bachelor starting at 9:30 a.m. at Riverfront Plaza.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387,