GT-40 Frankenmuth, MI USA

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It's been a crazy year. PRNCZ was on jack-stands up until a couple of weeks before we departed and then only with a tad over one hundred new miles on the odometer; less miles than we would have liked. This was Steven's last semester in college, studying for a music degree, and the college's Continuing Education Department offered him a job as a music instructor. Things kinda got lost in the fray.

GT40 Dash Plaque

This year's GT, GT-40, was hosted by the Michigan Rowdies in Frankenmuth, MI, Michigan's Little Bavaria. Steven developed and maintained the GT-40 website, while Diane edited the site and the GT-40 registration form. The Rowdies have hosted GT-10 in Plymouth, MI; GT-20 in Lansing, MI; GT-30 in Mackinaw City; and now GT-40. Will they host GT-50? We hope to be around to tell you!

Steven decided to gas-up the night before our departure. Returning from the gas station, he was informed, by someone yelling from a passing car, that PRNCZ had a burned out headlamp. Once back in the garage, a quick walk to the front of the car confirmed the problem. Of course, there was no spare in the parts bin, which necessitated getting into another car and traveling to the auto parts store. There, Steven learned that the headlamp that he paid $7.50 for twenty years ago was now $16.50! Once home, he removed the burned out lamp with the new lamp, only to discover that the new lamp didn't work either. A quick check with a voltmeter determined that there was no power to the low beam side of the lamp socket... great. So out comes the floor jack and off comes the left front wheel to gain access to the wires under the left front wing, to discover, of course, that the problem was actually in a connector under the right front wing. After an hour, all the old connectors in the electrical path had been replaced, the original headlamp had been reinstalled and the new lamp is now in the parts bin. If that is all that happens on this trip, it will be considered time well spent.

Saturday morning we began the journey. In the rain, of course. We headed due south to pick up secondary roads that would avoid Chicagoland. About twenty miles out, the rain was gone, to be replaced by fog. It was early in the morning, so there was little traffic. By the time we stopped for breakfast somewhere in Indiana, we felt confident that we could stow the side curtains and drop the hood. We headed northeast towards Michigan on Indiana secondary roads.


Nearing the boarder of Michigan on Old Chicago Trail, what little traffic there was began to slow. Diane thought there were a couple of dogs in the road, but Steven was not so sure. Once we arrived at the spot, we were accosted by a group of pigs: brown, fuzzy pigs. Too cute! We've been trapped in a herd of long-horn cows, a flock of sheep, and surrounded by sand-hill cranes, but we've never been penned by pigs. Eventually, we nuzzled our way through and were off again. About noon, we reached Coldwater, MI, where we stopped for lunch at a local drive-in, Short's Root Beer. Our destination today was the Best Western in Whitmore Lake, MI, which we made without any further adventures.

That evening we were to meet some high-school sweethearts, like ourselves, at a restaurant just up the road in Brighton. It's just a short hop on US-23, a four-lane, limited access highway, but we decided to use the service road that travels along side it. As we neared our destination, we encountered four rotaries, well marked if you live in the area. The last rotary we encountered managed to route us onto northbound US-23 with the next exit being nineteen miles up the road. Needless to say that if we didn't figure out something, we were going to be a tad late for dinner! At the next opportunity, we executed an illegal maneuver. This time when we arrived at the rotary, we were wiser and avoided the opportunity to return to US-23. The couple was patiently waiting. We had a lovely evening, reminiscing about high school days.

Steven, Rob, Diane, Linda

When we returned to the hotel later, we put up the hood and installed the side curtains. The amount of humidity in the air suggested that there might be a bit of rain overnight and likely most of the next day. We weren't disappointed. The next morning we headed out in rain, stopping nearby for breakfast and gas. The plan was to head west a bit and catch secondary roads heading north, avoiding traffic around the metropolitan areas.

Steven uses mapping software to plan our routes, and Diane is responsible for providing the detailed instructions to the driver en-route. But with the hood up, the side curtains in and the rain, we were missing a lot of turns. It was in a forested area, so a lot of the time we couldn't even determine what direction we were headed. After a while, enough was enough, and we pulled out the mighty GPS unit and told it to take us to our next destination and avoid highways. Damn, if it didn't put us on the route that Steven had mapped, with a lot of effort.

Eventually, we reached Bay City where we antiqued and wasted time while waiting for a parade to finish in Frankenmuth so we could reach the Bavarian Inn. After checking in at the Bavarian Inn, we registered with the GT-40 Host Committee and retired to the lounge for refreshments and dinner.

GT39 Postcard GT39 Postcard
On The Back

Mouse Over to See Back

The next morning we had breakfast at Oma's in the Inn with Ken and Kathy Nelson. After catching up on family and travel news, we more closely checked out the Inn and then walked around town, specifically River Place Shops where we enjoyed an ice cream. On the way back to the Inn we stopped to observe the peacocks in a pen on the grounds of the Inn. They do make a racket! In the evening we were invited to the First Timer's Reception where we met many NAMGAR members who were enjoying their first GT. After a pizza and salad supper, we adjourned to the Composers Rooms for the GT Orientation, given by the GT Host Committee. The entertainment for the evening was the octet, Etcetera, which sings the old Standards. Their program was car-focused and very entertaining. Bill and Mary Ellen Weakley of the Michigan Rowdies are members of this group. To top off a fun day, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the third time in six years!

On Tuesday Steven attended tech sessions, did some tyre-kicking and socialized with friends from forty years of NAMGAR. Diane and Linda Holle went to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland for a little retail therapy. This time Diane got a map and was amazed at how much this establishment had changed over the years. The first time we visited Frankenmuth, probably back in the eighties, Bronner's was located in the middle of town, on the four corners of the main intersection. You walked through at least four different storefronts that were loaded, floor to ceiling, with Christmas stuff. It was charming. Today, Bronner's looks like the Mall of America, with a detailed Store Directory, and shopping carts. The charm is gone, but the merchandise is interesting to peruse. Also on the property is the Silent Night Memorial Chapel, a replica of the chapel near Salzburg, Austria where the hymn Silent Night was first sung. There are plaques around the building with the words in many languages, including Lithuanian. Then it was time to search out the Marv Herzog Motel which contains a museum of memorabilia about musician (accordionist)-bandleader Marv Herzog, a native of Frankenmuth. Along the way we stopped in shops to sample sausage, cheese and wine. Willi's Sausage Company had the best Ukrainian Sausage along with a display of the owner's accordions.

Bavarian Belle

The evening's entertainment was a cruise on the Cass River aboard the Bavarian Belle Riverboat. It was fun to see how the smokestacks are lowered so that the boat can scoot under the covered bridge when the river is high. After the hour long narrated tour, Steven and Diane walked over to Zehnder's restaurant for dinner, across the street from the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. As we left the restaurant, we heard accordion music so we headed over to the outdoor pavilion in the Bavarian Inn Restaurant parking lot to hear Linda Lee, accordionist, sing and play polka music.

Wednesday was car show day at the Heritage Park which happened to be the grassy area behind the Bavarian Inn on the Cass River. It turned out to be a perfect day for being outdoors and looking at beautiful cars. There were 179 cars, arranged by class on the grass. Everyone especially enjoyed Lloyd Herring's MGA (Chicken Shift) which won third place in its class. Also of note were the two MGs that Neil and Thelma Griffin drove to the GT. Neil and Thelma have been Rowdies since the beginning of time, and Neil is 90, though you would never know. They are still as active with the club as ever. In the evening we walked over to the Frankenmuth Brewery with Bill and Trudi Gallihugh to enjoy a brewery dinner. On the way back to the Inn, we stopped at the pavilion to hear a concertina player. Everyone enjoyed a polka, or two, again.

Some Car Show Images
car show car show car show
Lloyd Herring's
Chicken Shift MGA
GT-40 Car Show Field Nice Example of an
MG Magnette ZB Varitone Sedan


Thursday morning we decided that Oma's for breakfast was not on the agenda. Diane had noticed a crepe restaurant in the River Place Shops, so we headed over there to find it closed. It was 8AM and nowhere within walking distance for breakfast. We asked the manager at Zehnder's, and he pointed us to T'Dubs, which turned out to be very good, but we never would have stopped there on our own. Back to the hotel to check out the vendors and chat with anyone and everyone in the lobby. Then Diane decided to get a head start on packing while Steven took in a tech session.

Bruce's Mac Spears Founder's Award
and Daughter Robin

Thursday evening was the banquet. We were greeted by the Manager of the Bavarian Inn, Judy Keller-Zehner, who entertained us with her own personal car stories. The Inn is known for its hospitality, and we can say that we heartily agree. After a luscious buffet with what else — chicken! and other delectables, the awards were distributed.

We were all very excited that our own Bruce Nichols won NAMGAR's prestigious Mac Spears Founder's Award. There is no more deserving person than Bruce. To quote the current Michigan Chapter Chairman, Dave Qinn, "Bruce spearheaded the recruiting that formed the Rowdies in August 1976 when the Chapter was born. In its formative years Bruce carried the entire load; he produced and mailed the entire newsletter, handled dues, etc; but more importantly, he established the club’s foundation by insisting it be a low-key funloving club dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of MGAs. After the first year membership doubled and it doubled again the next. And so it went. His enthusiasm and down-to-earth manner was the catalyst that brought new members into the fold. Under his leadership 'People First' became the Rowdies slogan."

After a quick stop in the hospitality suite, we hit the sack.

Terry, Pam, Diane, Steve

Friday morning, after the requisite coffee and donuts, we headed west out of town, on the way to Big Rapids to have lunch with Steven's youngest sister and her family. PRNCZ ran well and really enjoyed the sunshine and cool temps.

Then we headed west again towards the lake and Pentwater where we met up with another high school classmate, Pam, and her husband for dinner.

After a lot of laughs we headed south to Grand Rapids for two nights. We visited relatives at the cemeteries, had ice cream at our high school haunt, visited our elementary schools and Diane's church. The last stop before dinner was Long Lake where our parents' companies' summer picnics were held in the fifties. Diane has a picture of herself with her dad, mushrooming on the hill at Long Lake. She commented that the lake, hill and park are alot smaller than when she was five years old! We then had dinner with Steven's oldest sister at the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner in 1970. There were many "memory lane" moments on this trip.

The next day we headed south and west and were soon home after a lovely week with PRNCZ. The GT was certainly one of the best organized and executed, thanks to Larry and Mitzi Pittman and their Rowdie volunteers. Thank you for a most memorable GT!End Column