Classic cars will line the historic highway this weekend in downtown Troutdale

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Kelly Lewis of Troutdale has driven his Pontiac Trans Am every day since he bought it new in 1980 from Jim Weston Pontiac-GMC in Gresham. He keeps it in prime condition.Barefoot and jeans torn, 21-year-old Kelly Lewis bought his first new car in October 1980 — a Pontiac Trans Am sold right off the lot from Gresham’s Jim Weston himself.

Making decent money as a welder at Wagner Welding, he paid $7,949 for it.

He liked “the way it looked, the way it ran, the way it cornered,” Lewis said.

Lewis drove it every day to and from work for 28 years, until a few years back, when he hung up the keys to start showing it at local car shows.

He’ll return this weekend to Troutdale’s 10th annual cruise-in.

Downtown Troutdale will shut down its main drag on the East Historic Columbia River Highway on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Sunday, Aug. 18.

On Saturday, the Portland Chapter of the national Buick Club will hold its annual All-Buick Car Show, lining the highway all day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with old-fashioned Buicks.

Sunday is the 10th annual All Class Car Show, open to all entries of classic cars.

The day kicks off at 7 a.m. with a pancake breakfast.

More than 300 classic cars, from Oldsmobiles, Corvettes, 1932 Fords, to Model Ts, will line the downtown highway until 3 p.m.

Registration for either day is $15 and $25 for both days.

Proceeds go to Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp and Kiwanis Club of Troutdale’s Kids Are Key programs, which fund youth programs in Troutdale.

Lewis said he’s got “no complaints” about the Pontiac Trans Am he paid $250 a month to keep.

“You take care of it and they take care of you,” he said.

Parked in his driveway in Troutdale at 211,000 miles and sporting an impeccable new platinum silver paint job, the Trans Am — complete with Firebird decal airbrushed on its hood — glimmers in the afternoon sun.

Under the hood is a stock 301 cubic inch engine.

Some other details: New diamond-tuck red leather interior; flared wheel wells; lowered car body; new shocks and springs; and double the amount of tail and brake OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - When Lewis decided to refurbish his 1980 Trans Am, he had the interior reupholstered in red diamond-tuck.

And the shifter has been shortened by more than 3 inches because Lewis said “it looks better.”

The car is capable of speeds up to 120 mph, though Lewis claims, “I never raced it.”

His daughter seemed to disagree.

“Mom and dad used to drive it down to California,” she said.

Lewis said, “We may have had to get around a few people.”

Lewis, a member of a car club in Troutdale, said he enjoys the big classic car shows. As a man who likes to customize his own car, he likes to see what other people have done to theirs — the paint jobs, engine modifications, all of it.

At the end of the Troutdale Cruise-In Sunday the public votes for their favorite car.

Lewis’s prized possession has taken home four first-place trophies in the past few years.

“I take pride in keeping it complete,” he said.

Besides the few modifications he’s customized to his preference, Lewis said everything is the same as the day he bought it.

The last Trans Am — a submodel of the Pontiac Firebird — rolled off the assembly line in 2002.

The pride that comes with caring for a classic car runs in the family.

One of Lewis’s brothers has a 1965 Ford, made into a “taildragger,” and the other brother has a ’66 Cobra.

“It’s a nasty, nasty nice car,” Lewis said.

As for Lewis’ Trans Am?

“It will either be buried with me or I worry about what happens to it when I pass.”

That or his grandson, barely standing 3 feet tall, can look forward to driving Grandpa’s Trans Am into the future.

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