Canadian Cruise Nights

Michael Scott - January 21, 2021

Every Thursday, from May until September, the Hyde Park Lions Club host their ‘Country Cruize Night’ at Plunkett Estate in London, Ontario. In 2019 I got the chance to attend their final event of the year - and what turned out to be the final one before 2020, and we all know what happened after that.

On a ‘normal’ Thursday, from ‘5pm until dusk’, the private Plunkett estate becomes host to hundreds of cruisers in all sorts of vehicles, from classic muscle to modern sports cars and plenty hot rods. A far cry from what we would call a ‘cruise’ in the UK, where 90% of the cars are either a Fiesta, Corsa or Polo with all the same modifications, the Country Cruize-In brings so much variety and no two cars are the same. Even the unmodified cars are usually some special, rare, well maintained or restored classics.

Very much a ‘bring a lawn chair’ event the Cruize is a very relaxed affair, with cars strewn across the lawns and ‘The Pie Ladies’ serving freshly baked peach and apple pies. The cruisers are there to catch up with their friends and talk about the stuff they love. Showboating doesn’t seem to even be a thing, each owner is as humble as the next and is more interested in what you have to say than telling you about every detail of their build - unless you ask, you won’t find out.

There was also a dude with a parrot - why not?

Steve Plunkett, philanthropist & owner of the estate, is the biggest petrolhead of them all. With one of the largest Cadillac collections in North America, Steve is usually spotted wandering around the cruise checking out the cars and catching up with the regulars. His obsession for cars isn’t only focussed on Cadillac but GM as a whole, with over 80 cars in his private collection 50 of which are Cadillacs including one owned by Johnny Cash.

Where does Steve keep all these cars? Well, with so much land available, when a building becomes full he simply builds another one! The most impressive is the Auto Salon, a stunning building designed to look like a French Coach House externally while the interior has been styled on the extravagant showrooms of the 1930’s. With chandeliers all across the 12ft high impressed ceilings, the Auto Salon is where all the 30’s cars of the collection are housed.

Plunkett Estate also plays host to the annual Fleetwood Country Cruize-In, the largest outdoor classic car show in Canada, pulling in over 3000 show cars each year. Independently organised and financed by Steve himself, the show has been running for 15 years and with its profits going to help multiple charities, has raised over $1.7m in donations.

Unfortunately Steve decided that the 2019 event would be the final Fleetwood Country Cruize-In, being the sole organiser can’t be an easy task, something we know only too well. However, this isn’t the first time Steve has announced the final show - he made similar threats in 2017. And 2018. After the year we’ve just had - giving him a year off organising - will he decide to throw another event in 2021 or 2022? Who knows, but we hope to get the chance to attend!

This body dropped Ford Anglia with a V8 turned a few heads

Photos: Michael Scott
Words: Michael Scott
Location: London, Ontario, Canada

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