100 Years of Wheels & Wings

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) turned 100 in October and to celebrate numerous events were held on the campus, but the one that caught my attention the most was (of course) a car show. I actually found out about it through a post from the Ferrari Club, announcing that some of their members’ vehicles would be taking part. Given what I saw in that ‘teaser’, if you will, I knew I had to make my way over.

It wasn’t the biggest show ever but it wasn’t meant to be. The vehicles were selected to represent each decade of SAIT’s history and the resulting collection showcased a good variety of styles, genres, and stories as well. Because of the smaller size I could take my time to read each car’s information sheet, take in the details, and also read some of the additional information boards that were set up to tell more of the institution’s history. While many of my friends attended SAIT, I didn’t – so it’s rare for me to be on their campus and I enjoyed the chance to visit and learn a bit more about it and its past 100 years.

I could have easily spent the entire day at SAIT with how much was going on – and it would have been amazing to given the significance of what they were celebrating – but I ultimately didn’t. Most of the time that I did spend there was at the Wheels and Wings show though, and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you all today. Let’s get to it!

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Walking in, I first did a quick lap to see what was there and then out came the camera to start grabbing a few photos.

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Located in the second of the two rooms that the show occupied was the dyno, on which was posed this RB25-swapped Silvia (yup, RHD). With that big ol’ turbo you see lurking in the engine bay 450whp was the reported figure.

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In the interest of showing everything I’m including these next few photos, but I’ll be the first to admit that I know practically nothing about airborne transportation in general so I can’t really offer much here beyond whatever was explained on the signs – such as that this is a Starduster Bi-plane.

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Next to it was this little helicopter which was used for flight training among other things. Seriously, I wasn’t kidding when I said I know almost nothing.

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Moving further down the first row, a couple of engines were on display as well. This one in particular had been repurposed in the early 90’s as a cutaway model. I have no idea what it was from but it probably wasn’t a Civic…look at me, so helpful.

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Again, I know nothing. It takes diesel fuel though, so there’s that.

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And now, we can move on to things for which I can actually offer some more information. First up was this 1964 International D-405. Bought new by SAIT for its heavy equipment program, it now belongs to a collector and has just 2200 original miles on the clock!

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Maybe I spoke to soon though, because next up was this 2016 Bobcat, and that’s all I have for it. Moving on…

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Now this was pretty neat. Antique vehicles of any kind really interest me – just the idea that people built this over 90 years ago is something I find insanely cool, and I always wonder just what something like this would have seen or done in its lifetime. This is a 1923 American LaFrance Hose Tender, though not fully original. The engine had been replaced in the late 50’s and then again in 2013 with a small block 350. I’m not sure how I feel about that honestly.

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The Freightliner stuffed in the corner is the only one I didn’t get a proper picture of due to no clear access, so we now move over to the start of the second row, and what should be for most some more recognizable machinery.

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Starting it off was this 1992 Alfa Spider Veloce. The owner had received it as well as a Ducati 998 in trade for a Ferrari 308GTSi a few years ago.

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Parked next to the little Alfa was this 2009 Vantage which I recognized from World of Wheels. It features some subtle modifications and had even picked up an award from the show a couple of years ago.

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This 2006 S4 Avant (wagons for the win!) with plenty of modifications and even a manual transmission (manuals for the win too!) was apparently one of 6 in North America in this spec. I maintain that ‘superwagons’ are the perfect all-around vehicles.

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And then, bam. 599 GTO – one of my favourite Ferraris ever made, and in red too. This was definitely a highlight of the show for me.

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However, even with that 599 GTO as competition I was probably the most excited about this M4 GTS. I had only seen one prior to this, at the auto show back in March, so I was happy to have the chance to get another look.

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Coincidentally BMW also celebrated their 100th this year, having been founded about half a year prior to SAIT.

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Closing off this row was this ’10 Legacy which had been repaired by students of SAIT. The repairs looked great naturally but the mismatched headlights (one new and one slightly weathered) bugged my OCD. Haha

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One room completed, on to the next…

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…but not before reading the information boards in the joining hallway, noting some of the significant events from SAIT’s history. Getting the chance to see some of the archival photos was especially cool, such as the one on this first board (1916-1930) showing the 1917 automotive class!

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Moving to the next room now, first up was this dark red 1986 Countach.

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The info board noted it as being 1 of 5 in its specification. It has been with its current owner for 13 years now and has been driven throughout Western Canada as well as the USA.

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Parked next in the row was this 1981 Corvette; 1981 coincidentally (or purposely) being the same year the owner of it graduated from high school.

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Keeping with Chevy, the Corvette’s neighbour was this 1972 El Camino SS.

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This ’79 F150 appealed to me as my grandfather actually had one of a similar year when I was super young (which was yellow as it happens…). This example was a one-owner truck and nearly all original!

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Finishing off this third row were two final muscle cars; this 68 Camaro RS, the restoration of which was completed a few years ago…

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…and this ’68 GTO from Jack Carter’s collection. There was no further information on this one so I can’t share if it was original/restored/etc but it was gorgeous regardless.

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We now switch to the fourth and final row of vehicles, starting with this 1955 Bel Air. It was fully restored for its owner (a retired SAIT instructor) by his son (a SAIT graduate) and was only recently completed.

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Without intending to play down the rest of the vehicles, I was the most shocked at the sight of this – a 1956 300SL Gullwing! Wow. Just, wow. Its current owner has had it for 14 years and not only driven it throughout North America, but also Australia!

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Further adding to the variety was this 1949 Ford Woody Wagon. It was driven as an original example until 2007 when the wood was restored. The V8 under the hood is good for 100hp apparently…

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This 1947 Chevy Fleetline was the owner’s first vehicle which he purchased back in 1973. Perhaps just as cool was the fact that he took it to World of Wheels in 1976 and won a trophy! It’s history like that which I always enjoy learning about older vehicles.

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A peek into the engine bay of this ’37 Chevy Coupe revealed a Cadillac Northstar engine. Normally for a FWD Seville, it was spun 90 degrees for this RWD custom that was a 15-year build.

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This 1932 Ford Victoria was listed as a reproduction so I guess it’s a “1932”. Either way a ton of work had gone into it and many kilometers had been put on since the build was completed. It also had 350 horsepower courtesy of a Chevrolet heart.

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Moving on, next was this 1928 Ford Model A which had been dropped 4 inches, had its top chopped, and more. A 4 year project, it was completed in 1997.

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Nearing the end now – this 1926 Ford Model T was found in Montana and taken from a “sad state” (their words) to something that the owners now enjoy using on various adventures. The top speed is 60mph!

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We now go back a bit further with this 1917 Model T – the oldest vehicle of the show. It had 20 HP and its list of standard equipment included luxuries like a tail lamp, hand crank starter, and a “magneto powered” electric horn. It was restored to its original condition, but that restoration was in 1963!

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And finally, contrasting just a little bit as compared to its neighbours, was this 2013 Fiat 500E. If the name and all of the precautions didn’t tip you off, it was an electric car. I have a sneaking suspicion that they didn’t want showgoers to touch it. Just maybe.

So there it is! I hope you enjoyed this look at the Wheels and Wings show; like I said it wasn’t the largest event but again, it wasn’t meant to be. It was fun taking a look at what the organizers had brought together for the occasion and of course, congratulations to SAIT on 100 years!

-Bill

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