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Vets and Vettes at VFW Classic Car Show

The Bremen Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2791 in downtown Tinley Park hopes to make Sunday's car show for the troops a yearly event.

Tom Miller, 58, of Tinley Park, is proud of the original steel body on his bright red 1934 Ford three-window coupe and he chafes when people ask who "made" what they assume is a fiberglass replica.

"I know who made mine," he laughs. "Henry Ford made mine."

Miller was one of about 80 car owners who brought their classic cars to downtown Tinley Park Sunday for the first "Support Your Troops" car show put on by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Bremen Post 2791.

All proceeds from the event, which organizers hope to make a yearly one, will go to the care packages the post ship each month to troops stationed overseas.

"There was a handful of club guys sitting around the club bar and we're all in that age group – late 50s, early 60s – and we were talking about old cars," club manager Roger Barton said.

The idea of a car show was floated, with all proceeds going to the troops. Members who had classic cars brought fliers to other shows, spreading the word through the classic car circuit. Bettenhausen Dodge and Allegiance Community Bank signed on as corporate sponsors.

Barton said two of the most involved organizers – Joe and Jim Piech – weren't even VFW members. Their late father was, the brothers staying involved in his honor.

Combining the event's focus on the troops and on cars, Wayne Cole, 66, of Orland Park, displayed his 2001 Corvette, which he had airbrushed two years ago to honor the 40th anniversary of his younger brother's death in Vietnam.

Lance Cpl. Thomas Cole died April 27, 1968, after catching shrapnel from an exploding mortar. He was 19.

"I wanted to put it on the car so people can see it, so people don't forget why we can have car shows and nice things like that," Wayne Cole said.

While car owners like Miller pride themselves on the purity of their classic cars, Jim Altman, 58, of Tinley Park, prides himself on how impure his 1927 Ford T Roadster is.

After buying the body from Pennsylvania, Altman built the rest of the car from whatever worked. It is made of parts from Corvairs, Cutlasses, Econolines, Cherokees, Escorts, Continentals and Volkswagen Beetles, not to mention mopeds, boilers, grocery store shopping carts and office chair armrests.

"I'm a boilermaker, so fabrication is my game," Altman said.

It took him three years to build the car in his garage.

When Dan Podrazik, 68, of Tinley Park, finished the 1925 Ford T-Bucket he had been building in his garage for six years, he soldered a half-dollar coin onto the Edelbrock engine.

"When I was a kid, my mom told me never go anywhere without any money, so I had a place to put a 50-cent piece," he said.

The Bremen Post's next major fundraiser will be a Nov. 8 motorcycle run through the area.

They pack the shipments to the troops the first Tuesday of every month at the post, 17147 S. Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park.

To volunteer or donate, call 708-532-2333 or visit www.VFW2791.org.

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