June, 2012 Year


Paula Vopelak, our Allanté Atlanta Car Club Vice President of activities wanted the club to do something special to celebrate the Allanté twenty fifth anniversary this year. We tossed around a few Ideas , then thought about the Cadillac & LaSalle Club Grand National being the largest Cadillac club event of the year, perhaps we could incorporate something there special for our car. We called Tom Rohner, the president of Allanté Club Of America. He liked the idea and put us in touch with Bob Kloppfer, President of the Allanté-XLR Club chapter of CLC. We offered to have our club give a Ken Kogge award if he would get the okay from CLC. Bob thought it was a great idea and did get approval and put us in touch with Gary Fisher who was in charge of the awards banquet. With all the conversations about the silver anniversary of the Allanté and the awards banquet, an idea occurred to us. The location of the Grand National was being held in St. Augustine, Florida and Bill Buschmann lives in Florida. We hoped he might honor us in presenting the award, and what better person than the GM senior executive that ran the Italian manufacturing of the Allanté. We called Bill and after checking his schedule, he agreed to come to St. Augustine . We reported back to both Tom and Bob of Bill’s willingness to attend the CLC and present the award and to get the word out so we would have a large Allanté attendance.

Paula, being the great activities person she is, suggested we see if Bill would come in on Friday. We could have an Allanté dinner and ask him to have a questions and answers session. Paula contacted Bill and not only did he agree to come he also has a slide show presentation on the manufacturing of the Allanté that he would present if we could provide a projector, which we did.

With all of the elements in place we had to get the word out so we posted it in our newsletter. I put it on the Allante’ Net website and Paula sent out to all our members on Evite. I emailed everyone having anything to do with the Allanté for whom I had email address .We had eleven cars from our club make the trip. After all the preparation to make the 25th anniversary of our cars a really special event, it was disappointing that there was not more participation from other clubs.

On Wednesday, June 13 at early varying times, the Allante’ Atlanta Car Club members caravanned to St. Augustine, FL for the 2012 CLC Grand National Meet. We had 10 members attending. We arrived at the Renaissance Resort in the World of Golf Village about 20 minutes from historic St. Augustine. We picked up our Registration Packages, draped our name packets around our necks and headed to the CLC Welcoming Reception. It was a fun time socializing with members from various regional chapters of the CLC, including the Peach State CLC Chapter of which some of us were members. We had a late dinner in the Villago Italian Grille located adjacent to the hotel lobby after which we headed to our rooms to prepare for Thursday’s activities.

Thursday was acclimation day…..surveying the competition, exploring the convention center and watching the big Cadillacs drive in and park around the circle at the hotel entrance. It was a spectacular sight!! Following breakfast, we drove to the private Serenata Beach Club owned by the Resort for a nice morning at a private beach. We enjoyed walking in the surf, digging our toes in the sand and appreciating the beautiful Atlantic. We next traveled to the historic St. Augustine Lighthouse prior to luncheon at the Blue Oasis. The Live Oaks at the Lightkeepers Cottage were so very beautiful and graceful. The historic property was a photographer’s treasure.

Thursday evening the 12 Allante’ Atlanta members staying at the Renaissance caravanned into historic St. Augustine for dinner at the beautiful Raintree restaurant. The restaurant was located in a converted early 1900s home. The dinner and cocktails were delicious but the service was SUPERB!!!! We all agreed that our Waitress was truly the best server any of us had ever enjoyed. While there was a good gratuity provided due to our party size, all of us added an additional and generous gratuity for her service. It was a fantastic evening allowing us to return to the hotel close to midnight.

Friday morning we breakfasted at the Legends Grille behind the Golf Hall of Fame with the members staying at the Bluegreen Condos on the Village property. Around noon, the Allante’ Atlanta Club welcomed Bill and Judy Buschmann to the CLC Grand National. Bill Buschmann was the Program Director for the Cadillac Allante’ program in Turin, Italy. Because 2012 was the 25th Anniversary of the Cadillac Allante’, the Allante’ Atlanta Car Club invited Bill and Judy to join us in celebrating the Allante’ Silver Anniversary with a special presentation on the Allante’ Friday evening at a private dinner for Allante’ owners. The invitation was extended to the Florida Allante’ and XLR Club, the Allante’ Club of America, the Cadillac Allante’ Club and Peach State Chapter of the CLC about four weeks before the event. Twenty-eight Allante ‘owners joined us for the dinner and presentation. Not only did Bill entertain us with memories of his and Judy’s eight-year build program in Italy for Cadillac but he shared the special relationship he developed with the Pininfarina family as well.

Bill presented many pictures and discussed the actual body building processes of the Italian craftsmen, the loading and racking of Allante’ bodies in the 747 aircraft contracted for the 687 Cadillac Air Flights to Detroit. This was the largest air freight contract in the world at that time While some members were aware of the Italian build program, most Allante’ owners learned more about the GM/Cadillac process and program initiatives through Bill’s presentation. Cadillac and Pininfarina developed and built the Allante’ as a direct luxury-market competitor to the Mercedes luxury roadster. Bill shared the pride and enthusiasm he felt when in the 1993 model year build program, the Allante’ program scored the highest quality levels in all of the GM/Cadillac Division. Bill and the Italian team were very proud of their record.

Unfortunately, due to the economic situation being experienced by all automobile manufacturers during the 90’s, GM decided to end the Allante’ program with the last 1993 Allante’. Andrea Pininfarina, head of the Design Style Segment of Pininfarina was killed in an accident. While there were prototypes built for the 1995 and 1996 years, the program never went forward after the GM decision to cancel.

Bill concluded his presentation stating he would be available to anyone having questions relative to the Allante’. Bill and Judy would be attending the Saturday evening CLC Awards Banquet at which he will award the Kogge Trophy for the most original Allante’. The participants at the Friday evening presentation were very fortunate to share this celebration of the Silver Anniversary of the Cadillac Allante’.

Saturday was the day to clean, detail, and wipe your Allante’ dry at least twice during the morning showers. Allante’s were naturally in the final row following earlier built Cadillacs. However, their appreciation and popularity was just as crowded as the “big” Cadillacs. Many attendees voiced their admiration and awe at the beauty of the Allante’. It was very hard to state which color Allante’ was the most popular….the pearl flax, the pearl red, the polo green, the pure white, the metallic gray or the golden fawn color.

The judges were very detailed and the process proved very intensive for some Allante’ owners new to the CLC judging process. One unfortunate pearl red owner (1993 Allante’ Official Pace Car) was disqualified because he did not have a fire extinguisher for his Allante’. But experience and communication with other CLC participants will assist newer participants (especially Allante’ owners) in gaining a First Place Award at the next Cadillac LaSalle Grand National.

Saturday evening, the Allante’ Atlanta Club members met in the Social Hall adjacent to the Ballroom in the Convention Center for cocktails and wine. The 167 Cadillacs and their owners were excited and nervous about the final outcome to the judging of their beautiful and survivor Cadillacs. We filed into the Ballroom quickly to select our tables and enjoy the dinner and award process before us. Dinner was enjoyable, delicious and many social exchanges from multiple Cadillac owners were enjoyed. The tension started building around 8 pm when the President of the CLC Club welcomed the international members and guests to the 2012 CLC Awards Banquet. The program included recognition and appreciation of many aspects of the Cadillac preservation and collaboration. Flashes and camera clicks were many as the awards progressed. At the start of the Class Awards (where the cars and their owners are recognized), we noted the first award was the Allante’ award.

Norman Penfield, President of the Allante’ Atlanta Car Club, walked up to the podium to introduce the Kogge Award presenter, Bill Buschmann, GM/Cadillac Executive for the Allante’ Build Program in Turin, Italy. When Bill started his presentation, the entire ballroom was silent and listening. He shared the objective of the GM/Cadillac initiative with the Allante’ and the reasoning for the ending of the program. Bill, as a GM Corporate Executive was in his element. The Kogge Award was initiated by the Allante’ Atlanta Club to honor Ken Kogge and his legacy for the preservation of the Allante’ with the entire Allante’ community. He asked Norman Penfield to share the presenting of the award to Russell and Paula Vopelak for their 1993 Polo Green Cadillac Allante’. Russell had a smile larger than ever seen before.

Following the Class Awards for the many outstanding Cadillacs, Russell Vopelak won the Primary Class 29 for his 1993 Polo Green Allante’. Art Sevelius won Second Place for his 1993 White Allante’ and Third Place was awarded to John Nash for his 1993 Pearl Flax Allante’.

The Peach State Chapter of CLC quickly asked the Allante’ award winners to pose with other Georgia award winners for a group photograph. In all recipients from Peach State and Allante’ Atlanta had the highest number of awards for the evening, or, as Stan Tucker, President of Peach State Chapter said “we took a lot of medal metal back to Atlanta”. It was an exciting and gratifying night for Georgia Cadillac owners!

Over 21,000 Allante’s were built during the 1987 – 1993 program. Today a much smaller number of Allante’s survive. The Allante’ has become a truly classic Cadillac to be preserved and protected just as the “big” Cadillacs from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond are today by world-wide membership of the Cadillac LaSalle Club.

It behooves all Allante’ owners to participate in events that honor the Cadillac Allante’ as a Classic and recognize the significance that Cadillac placed on its entry into the luxury-market competition. The Cadillac Allante’ survives and enjoys its classic status because of individuals like Bill Buschmann, Ken Kogge, Dick Hussey, Tom Rohner, Bob Kloppfer, and John Monzo. And most importantly, You and I as Cadillac Allante’ owners.

The Allante’ Atlanta Car Club appreciates the great contribution of these individuals toward the preservation and appreciation of the Cadillac Allante’. Our Club members, and other Allante’ owners who have approached us, believe we need to do more to establish a true National Cadillac Allante’ Club closely integrated with the Cadillac LaSalle organization to preserve and protect all Cadillac Allante’s. We encourage your participation and your dialogue.

Motor on! See you next time.

Paula Vopelak - Vice President

Members on Trip

Linda and Norman Penfield

Paula and Russell Vopelak

Jim Sebastian and Sandy Harazak

Suzanne and Howard Cohn

Anna May and Doug Jackson

Brenda and Art Sevelius

Darr and Bud Neidig

Beth and John Nash

Elisabeth and Gary Schubert

Nancy and Bud German

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