Of all the distinctive and symbolic vehicles to see along Woodward Avenue Saturday, the Ford roadster that Chuck Caswell showcased drew a steady stream of curious admirers outside the in Bloomfield Hills.
The replica 1932 model stood out because it is painted fatigue green and camouflage. But it isn’t until one sees this historic vehicle’s trunk to fully appreciate who and what it represents.
Standing out in silver marker on the curved green steel are the signatures of all 29 living U.S. Medal of Honor winners. The award is the highest military decoration issued by the federal government for soldiers that distinguish themselves by going above and beyond the call of duty in battle.
The vehicle will be auctioned off early next year at the Barrett-Jackson/Scottsdale auction to help raise college money for the children of slain or paralyzed soldiers. Dubbed the Metal of Honor project, the effort is a culmination of 18 months of planning, fundraising and coordination with 60 different businesses across the country.
Each part of the vehicle and the time needed to assemble it was donated from manufacturers and auto suppliers, as was the effort to reach all the living honorees. Donated too are the truck, trailer and diesel fuel needed to showcase the vehicle in different cities across the country, said Caswell, a board member of the IronMen Foundation. The church group, based in Barrington, Ill., formed a tax-exempt organization in 2007 to assist with educating children of soldiers that made the ultimate sacrifice.
The effort has come a lot further than Caswell said he ever anticipated when the board members first set out for a meaningful project.
“We’re touring the country and will continue until January when it’s auctioned off,” he said. “There’s just been an unbelievable amount of work and effort put into this over the past year and a half and we’re very close to our goal.”
Caswell, who personally shepherded the vehicle to several car shows and special events around the Midwest, said he’s attended his first Woodward Dream Cruise with hopes of drumming up attention among car buffs.
“Maybe I’ll find a bidder,” he said motioning to the throng of classic cars lazily moving along Woodward Saturday afternoon. “It’s an unusual event because you’ve got some of the show that’s moving and some that’s staying still, and it’s impossible to see everything.”
The vehicle left an undeniable impression on several Dream Cruise gawkers that took a moment to look it over.
“The car was gorgeous itself, but to then see those signatures and learn the story was amazing,” said Kurtis Morris of Waterford. “That’s definitely going to stand out to me after today’s over.”
Visit the foundation's website for more information about the Metal of Honor effort and to see the tour schedule.