Parking lots C and D at Stevenson High School, usually inhabited by tame-looking cars, trucks and SUVs belonging to staff and visitors, got a racy upgrade Saturday when 18 custom cars pulled up to stage the first car show in the school’s history.
The show was brainchild of Shelley Frain of the school’s administrative operations department and co-sponsor of the school’s Operation Click Program, which promotes safe driving for students. The event was in celebration of Stevenson being named School of the Year by Operation Click.
Given the mission of Operation Click, the car show seemed like a good idea, said Frain, who helps direct the program with Kim Covelli, a Lincolnshire police officer assigned to Stevenson.
“We never had a car show at Stevenson,” said Frain, who drives a shiny red Corvette and dabbles in the custom car scene herself. “We have 4,000 students here. Lots of them have nice cars. This is a way of bringing the community together.”
Twenty-three owners signed up for the show, including Jim Elija, a recently retired counselor at Stevenson, who showed up Saturday with his 1956 blue Ford Thunderbird. He also owns a 1966 Thunderbird and a 1979 Continental Mark 5.
Elija said collecting cars came naturally.
“My family always had a lot of cars, growing up on a farm in Iowa,” he said.
All told, they had eight vehicles, he said, so when the chance came along to pick up the '56, he jumped at it.
Back in the day, the Thunderbird rolled off the assembly line at a price of $3,400, according to the original gate receipt Elija has stuck to the car. Today it is probably worth around $50,000, he said.
Rich “Spicy” Lahm of Hanover Park showed off his loud green 2005 Chrysler, which he bought in April of 2009.
The car is outfitted with custom features throughout, including the “spicy” green and black paint job, oversized sunroof, Lambo doors that open vertically and a heavy duty grill.
An insurance adjuster, Lahm said he drives the car to work every day, thinking “please don’t hit me” when he takes it out in traffic.
Scott Brady of Lincolnshire, whose two children, Allie, 17, and Connor, 15, attend Stevenson, brought a bright yellow 2008 Pontiac GXP Solstice, which he originally bought as a graduation present for his wife.
“But when I started playing (customizing) with it, she said, ‘Take it. I don’t want it anymore.’ ”
More than $65,000 later, the car, customized by noted car designer Chuck Mallett of Concord N.C., boasts enough interior and exterior modifications to fill the 8-by-10 laminated card Scott proudly shows onlookers.
Features include custom seat embroidery, fiberglass fenders, Lambo doors, engine and body lights, a custom painted and upgraded instrument console, and a jazzy audio system that includes a 500-watt amplifier and, of course, a four-cylinder turbo engine capable of delivering 455 horsepower.
Cipriano Montiel of Glendale Heights brought his 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe, which he bought two years ago and has been customizing ever since.
The car was a standout with its flaming custom red and white paint job and 44-caliber bullet door handles. Inside there are six television monitors.
Montiel figures he’s spent $30,000 on the vehicle, but that doesn’t stop him from driving it.
“I just need to be very careful,” he said. “I spent a lot of money on it, so why not."