One of Motor City’s younger members, Blair Trotter has a customizer’s eye that spans decades. He’s fascinated by the 1950s, but his current ride is a 1978 Cutlass Supreme and his plans are to finish a couple of 1960s cars – all Oldsmobiles.
“I grew up with Olds,” Blair says. “The first car I can remember driving was a 1979 Cutlass that my dad had, and then he bought a 1981 and that’s the body I really like. The first car I ever had was a 1965 Cutlass.”
Along with his 1978 Cutlass Supreme, he also has a 1965 442 waiting in the wings, and a 1961 Dynamic 88 “that I’m stripping to make an early 1950s or 1960s period hot rod,” he says. “I’m looking for a body. I want to do that one before the 442.”
A provincial highway construction manager, Blair is a “mechanically-minded” car fan who does all of his own work. Unlike many do-it-yourselfers, he didn’t learn from his father – “he’s big into Oldsmobile, but he doesn’t do any of his own stuff” – but from friends who shared their experiences while Blair was growing up, helping him to work on his cars and trucks.
That love of things automotive got him into mud racing, and he used to compete with a 1977 Chevrolet Blazer. He’s also a fan of boats and has a 1972 15-foot fiberglass boat that was his grandfather’s; he’s updated the motor and interior and “until I can afford the nice big boat, I’ll keep this one.” Rounding out the outdoors theme is a love of canoeing, hiking and riding his 800 Polaris ATV; another great interest is music. He played saxophone and piano in high school, and while he didn’t keep it up, he remains a fan of live concerts and keeps an extensive collection of his ticket stubs and tour books.
Motor City is his first entry into a car club. “I worked with Billy Jewel,” he says. “He’s on some of the jobs I’m on, and somehow – I don’t even know how – we started talking about cars and he gave me his card showing that he’s a member of the club. At the same time, I was reading an Old Autos article talking about the fiftieth anniversary and I was amazed that there was such a club.
“I’d been to Autofest with my ’65 but didn’t know the origin of the club or who was running it. I talked to my dad, and he knew Gary Challice and grew up with Bob Clarke, so all of a sudden I found all of these connections that I didn’t know existed, to a club that I didn’t know existed. My dad introduced me to Gary and I came to a couple of meetings and that was it. I was hooked.”
He credits the club for sharing information to help him work on his vehicles. “I’m learning a lot,” he says. “I’ve never chopped a roof, never done any of that sort of stuff. My experience is pretty primitive compared to the wealth of knowledge that these guys have.” He’s also happy to be surrounded by people who share his enthusiasm. “I grew up with friends who aspired to having cars, but I was always alone. One friend has a motor and it isn’t even touched. I’d go in with two feet and they’d go in with one. Being surrounded by twenty-six guys who want to do the same thing that I want to do is just natural.”
He appreciates factory-correct restorations, but they’re not his style, preferring to build and customize cars to the specifications he prefers. As he says, who has ever seen a 1978 Cutlass with factory brown paint and 600 horsepower? “I think it’s neat to see the look on people’s faces when you open the hood and they don’t expect it.”
While he’s from a generation more in tune with newer cars, he feels that overall, car buffs are starting to respect older cars again. “My generation and the next one are taking an interest in the 1950s and 1960s era. The new magazines are hot rods, tattoos and nostalgia, and people are starting to relive those times. When I’m done the 1978 it will be pro-street, but I want to do a bare-bones roadster, nothing newer than 1961 and I don’t even want a top. I want to do a plain, black roadster. I’m fascinated with that time period.”