I started writing for OCW around 1976, although it was not until the fall of 1978 that I moved to Iola, Wis., to work for the magazine. For a couple of years my friend Mike Carbonella and I had read about the Iola old Car Show that is held the second weekend of every July. In July 1978, we started thinking about driving out from Staten Island, N.Y., to attend the show and see all of Ken Buttolph’s Chevys. (Back then Ken had mostly Chevys.) When push came to shove, the trip was too long for the time we had and we went to the AACA meet in York, Pa., instead. As a result, the first Iola Old Cars Show I attended was in 1979. The show was a large one then, but nowhere near as large as today. If I remember correctly, the 1979 theme was Wisconsin cars and I can remember sitting on State Street and watching all the Nashes and AMCs roll in. One non-Wisconsin-built car that really stood out was an orange Packard Panther Daytona. At the time that car was part of the Calvacade of Cars Museum that a collector named Gene Grengs had in the Eau Claire area and he DROVE it to Iola. Back then the campgrounds for the show was where the car corral is today and some of the OCW staff would go there at night and joke around with visitors by their campfires. I remember some people from the “big city” of Milwaukee kidding us about what we did in Iola for fun. “We watch the potato trucks go by,” I said. Then, I told them that it was my first year in Iola after living for 32 years in New York City. Then I said, “What do YOU do for fun in a small town like Milwaukee.” It’s all in your perspective, isn’t it?
Gunner’s Garage with John Gunnell
"Gunner" is one of of the most prolific authors and most visible characters in the old car hobby. He has written dozens of books about old cars for Krause Publications and is the former editor and publisher of Old Cars Weekly. His collecting pursuits range from old Pontiacs, to MGs, to retired police cruisers, to Indian motorcycles. He remains a frequent contributor to Old Cars Weekly and owns and operates Gunner’s Great Garage, a classic car restoration and gift shop in Manawa, Wis.
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