For the first time ever, the Oak Park Vintage Car Club and the Oak Park River Forest Museum are teaming up to put on a free vintage car show. Everyone is invited June 11 to step into the past, visiting a time when the Ford Model T and other historic automobiles ruled the highways.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day, fully operational and beautifully restored vintage vehicles will line the streets outside the museum at Lake Street and Lombard, allowing attendees to marvel at the incredible feats of machinery. All the featured cars belong to Oak Parkers. The owners will be on hand at the outdoor show to answer questions and share special stories about their vehicles.
Those stories are often times just as special as the cars, some of which are almost a century old. Take for example Dan Lempa’s 1925 Model T, which will be on display at the show. The automobile originally belonged to Lempa’s father, who purchased it when Lempa was 8 years old.
“I watched him restore it,” he said. “I myself restored it again 30 years later.”
Lempa also plans to park his 1939 Pontiac and 1942 Buick station wagon. A long-time member of the Oak Park Vintage Car Club, Lempa has restored many cars over the years.
He bought his first car three years before he was legally able to get a driver’s license. Lempa repaired and repainted that car, a 1926 Model T, over a period of years and spent many of life’s milestone moments inside it.
“My wife and I actually had our very first date in that car,” he said.
The Oak Park Vintage Car Club has about 50 members and, like Lempa, all have extraordinary stories to share, as well as extensive knowledge of the history of automobiles.
That shared appreciation for history makes the Oak Park River Forest Museum a natural fit to co-host the vintage car show.
“There is no doubt that the history of automobiles is a fascinating story that has many facets and that many people are interested in, even if they don’t personally own a vintage car,” said OPRF Museum Executive Director Frank Lipo.
“People often reminisce about their first car, their old family car and about what car they always wanted as a teenager or even as an adult.”
Free admission to the museum is also being offered during the event. Inside the museum, visitors can see photographs of the vintage vehicles taken in Oak Park during their heyday. They can also check out an automotive directory from 1918.
Museum volunteer Kenn Sinko has also developed a special slide show for the event, detailing the history of Oak Park’s “Auto Row,” the length of Madison Street that once served as a major car-buying destination.
The show is expected to have 60 vintage cars on display, weather permitting. The outdoor exhibit begins on the corner of Lake Street and Lombard Avenue, extending onto South Boulevard between Lombard and Harvey. Those interested in showing their own vintage car should email Lempa at email@example.com.
For safety reasons, riding in the vehicles will not be permitted. However, the event is still sure to be a gas.