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Winterfest of Wheels 2017
By Tom Olsen
It’s hard to believe, but Winterfest of Wheels for 2017 will be here soon! Winterfest of Wheels has come to be known as the premier auto show in the Sioux Falls area, and it will be at the Sioux Falls Convention Center on February 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2017. This show is the event that many Sioux Falls area car enthusiasts look forward to each year. And why not…what could be better on a cold February day than strolling through the convention center, surrounded by friends, and admiring 120 beautiful cars, trucks, and motorcycles on display?
I refer to this being the premier show in the area because the vehicles displayed each year are actually selected for the show. The committee is careful to select from a pool of entries that will give spectators a quality show experience. And, it’s not the same vehicles that you’ll be seeing year after year. Entries are selected so that you’ll be seeing a fresh collection annually. The variety of cars will include classics, race cars, original vintage models, rat rods, serious ground pounding street machines, and virtually anything else you can imagine. And, it’s not just cars and trucks that you’ll be seeing. There will be custom and vintage motorcycles on display, as well as an assortment of the latest new motorcycles from J&L Harley-Davidson. This show truly has something for every taste!
Our feature car this year is owned by Dean Van Heerde, owner of Pierre’s Body Shop. The car is a 1940 Chevrolet two-door sedan that was owned for many years by Pierre Forrette, the founder of Pierre’s Body Shop. Pierre was an active car enthusiast and hot rodder in Sioux Falls. Dean bought the car from Pierre’s estate after he passed in 2012. At the time, the car was in the process of a stock style restoration, but Dean developed plans for the car beyond stock.
Dean loves military history and he decided to build the Chevy as a World War II tribute car, but honoring soldiers of all wars. The inspiration for the build came from Dean’s father and his father-in-law. Both men served during WWII; Dean’s dad served in the Navy, and his father-in-law served in the Army Air Corps. There are influences from both of those branches of service in the car. The large “P” insignia on the rear quarters represents the Army Air Corps bomber group in Guam where Dean’s father-in-law served. You’ll also find Navy insignia on the car representing his father’s service.
At first glance, one might think that the car was built using actual panels from vintage aircraft. The aircraft look comes from the amazing airbrush artwork of area freelance artist Chad Henslin. Chad is Pierre Forrette’s stepson and, in addition to doing all the artwork, he consulted on the style of the project throughout. What you see as individual aluminum panels are all airbrush created seams. There are over 1000 airbrushed “rivets” on the body panels! Each door is adorned with vintage bomber-style “nose art” as was seen on the big bombers during the war, and the front of the car sports the traditional shark teeth as was commonly painted on P-51 Mustang fighters. Military aircraft streak across the American flag covering the rear of the car. Chad even created “exhaust discoloration” on the hood cowling representing the exhaust from the 12 cylinder engines used in the P-51.
Prior to Chad’s artwork, Pierre’s Body Shop, of course, did all the initial body and paint work. The silver was scuffed down with scotchbrite pads to give a brushed aluminum look. Later Chad’s artwork was applied, then six coats of clear were applied over the entire car. PPG paints were used throughout, sponsored by ABS in Sioux Falls.
The frame and body from the original ’40 Chevy are the basis for this build, but that’s about where the originality ends. A Mustang 2 front end from Chassis Engineering provides front suspension and steering, while a nine inch Ford rear end is used out back. A late model Chevy 5.3 LS engine supplies power routed through a GM 5 speed automatic transmission. A custom-built engine cover and coil/valve covers, along with a March pulley system, add functionality and dress up the engine bay. Exhaust is routed through headers and an exhaust system built by Buck’s Muffler Shop. For wheels, fifteen inch “artillery” wheels, painted red and with an actual chrome outer rim (not a trim ring), add a perfect military touch.
Inside the car you’ll find new, but original style, seats finished in brown suede by Terry Schulte Subaru. Vintage Air, power windows, and a VHX instrument system from Dakota Digital update the interior furnishings. An Ididit steering column topped with a one-off custom-built B29 bomber style steering wheel really finish things off inside!
This has been a three year labor of love for Dean and those involved with the car. As you look over the car you may notice that there are no Chevrolet insignias on the car, only military influences. Dean says “it’s not about the car, it’s about the soldiers that gave us our freedom.” Be sure to look Dean’s car over carefully while you’re at the show; it’s a fitting tribute to our military heroes.
This year we’re also planning to honor local first responders with a law enforcement and fire/rescue display. Details are still coming together on this, but we are planning a display from law enforcement that could contain a new patrol vehicle with “ghost” graphics, a Harley-Davidson police motorcycle, a police ATV and other cool things. The Fire Department is planning to have a 1915 Seagrave fire truck on display. Personnel from Police and Fire Rescue will be on hand during the show to greet the public, and a ceremony honoring police and fire professionals is planned.
Cars from Bob Marvin’s “The Shed” in Warroad, MN, are always a big attraction at Winterfest. The Shed has one of the finest collections of ultra-rare muscle cars anywhere, and Bob is kind enough to share several with us each year. We don’t know for sure what he’s bringing yet, but these cars are always worth the wait!
In addition to all of this, there will be the popular “Ditch Your Man” area for the ladies, a quality selection of raffle items, a kids coloring contest, and a variety of automotive and specialty product vendors. We’ll have a variety of Winterfest of Wheels souvenir items including two new shirts featuring a law enforcement or firefighter theme. Several area builders and custom shops will be on hand, many displaying their latest build. If you’re thinking of an automotive build, this is a great time to see finished products up close and visit with shops about your plans. And, for your musical enjoyment, the band Big Red Rawkit Riot will be entertaining us on Friday evening.
But Winterfest of Wheels is more than just a car show, it’s all about raising money to help Cure Kids Cancer. The Winterfest committee is committed to bringing together a premier group of vehicles in one location for everyone in the area to enjoy, all while raising money for a great cause. Profits from Winterfest of Wheels are donated to the local Sanford Cure Kids Cancer to help in this ongoing battle.
As you can see, there’s a lot planned for the 2017 Winterfest of Wheels. We hope you’ll join us at this great event and help us raise money to Cure Kids Cancer. See you then!
February 3rd 5:00PM-10:00PM
February 4th 10:00AM-9:00PM
February 5th 10:00AM-3:00PM
Ticket prices are $11, kids under 12 are free with a parent. Advance tickets can be purchased ad J & L Harley-Davidson for $10. More activities are planned as of this writing, so be sure to check us out online for more information.
Facebook: Winterfest of Wheels