For as long as he can remember, Mike Bear has always been a ‘car guy.’
It was only fitting, since his father, Mike Bear, Sr., has always been involved with cars; and is the driving force behind the popular, ‘On the River’ Car Show, which will be held this Saturday in the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park.
For Mike, this will be his first car show with the car of his dreams – a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SuperSport 454.
“When I was a kid, this was the car that I had a poster of up on my wall,” Bear says as he looks at the gleaming red paint scheme shining in the afternoon sun.
He bought his first car when he was just 14 years old.
“I bought my first car when I was 14 for $800,” he said. “It was a 71 Chevelle off of Travis Reed. I played with it until right before I got my license, when I ended up selling it, for whatever reason; and bought something more economical at that time.”
A couple of years later, Mike bought a 68 Chevelle; and then a couple of years after that, it was a pair of 69s.
And the passion was born.
Bear and wife, Brandi, have only owned the car for a few months, having purchased the vehicle from an owner in Springfield, Ohio; who bought the car years ago from an owner in Arizona. The car itself was built in California originally, so this Chevelle has seen some miles making its way to Vevay.
“There were five or six different plants,” Bear said of where the Chevelles were built. “Kansas City. Michigan. California. They even built some in Canada and shipped down here. This one was built in Van Nuyes, California in October of 1969, and it sold in April of 1970. I’ve been trying to trace down the history as best I can with it. The history’s a big part.”
Bear also wanted something that held that historic value and importance.
“I wanted something that was original stock,” he said. “I wanted it as it came off of the assembly line, how it came out of the showroom.”
This 1970 Chevelle actually came after more than a decade of working to restore a 1969 Chevelle.
“The 69 that I was building, it was going in a different direction than what I actually wanted,” Bear smiled. “I’d had it for 14 years. Things with the kids and stuff, it just catches up with you. You have less time and less money. This was a better investment.”
It was Brandi who finally convinced her husband to begin the search for another car.
“He was actually building two cars,” she said. “I just told him, ‘Why don’t you sell both of these and buy one that’s already the way you want it, so we can enjoy it?'”
The chance to again share that common bond of a love for cars with his dad also drove Bear to search for this vehicle.
“Me and him’s never been able to go to a car show together with him having his car and me having my own personal car,” Bear said. “I’ve taken his to quite a few of them, but it’s just not the same. I wanted something that I could take that was my own and be proud of it – and now we get to.”
Bear purchased the car in June of this year, but he hasn’t taken it to any car shows until he drives into the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park this weekend. He notes that since his dad is the host and he helps with the show, their cars won’t be judged (“I don’t think that would seem fair to people,” Bear says), the Chevelle will be on display.
Brandi says “she’s getting there” when it comes to being a ‘car person’, but notes that she really loves riding in the Chevelle, as it has become a real family bonding time, along with daughters Mallory and Brinley.
“But he won’t let me ride in it right now,” Brandi laughs.
“That’s because I’ve got it all cleaned up for the show,” Mike smiles back.
“He won’t even take me through town in it,” Brandi continues with a smile. “I haven’t ridden in it for over a month.”
“I’ve got it all cleaned up, so let’s just wait til Friday when the cruise in’s going on; then we’ll take a ride through town.”
And Brandi understands the connection that her husband has with his car.
“About a month ago, it was a nice night so we decided ‘It’s Friday night, let’s go out’,” she said. “So we drive all the way to Carrollton. We’re going to go eat Mexican. But then we saw some clouds, so had to turn around in the parking lot of Kroger and come all the way home because he thought it was going to get rained on.”
“We may get back there,” Mike laughed again.
‘Car guys’ understand those things.
“To me, this is what I’ve been waiting for,” Bear says. “We wanted something nice that we can go to a show or a cruise in and enjoy it. I’m still not afraid to put the kids in the back. We go as a family. One time I got back and there was ice cream all over the back seat from the wind blowing at them, because it doesn’t have air.”
So what is it about the Chevelle?
“Any time you’re at a muscle car event or something like that, you’ve got the Hemi guys and you’ve got the Ford Mustang guys; but the 70 Chevelle, to me, that was it. When I think about the muscle car era, the 1970 Chevelle is what I think of. I’ve always been a Chevy guy at heart.”
So is this the first in a long line of more cars?
“I have to have something to piddle with,” Mike laughs while Brandi shakes her head no. “Right now, this is it.”
The ‘On the River’ car show, cruise-in and parade has been set for tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday at Ogle Riverfront Park.
Tomorrow evening will kick off around 6:30 p.m. with the cruise-in followed by a parade down Main Street and back to the park.
Saturday morning, the car show begins with registration from 8 a.m. until noon. Over 150 trophies will be given away throughout the show; along with several other giveaways. The trophy presentation starts at 4:30 p.m.
This event is free to the general public.