April 28 2010 12:00 AM

Conquerers II, hosts of Lansing’s first Autorama, are ready to roll again



When Ray DeBar and his friends formed the Conquerors car club, the decision was simple.

“It started because we all liked cars,” DeBar said.

In 1957 the group of men, barely out of high school, wanted to bring a car show to Lansing. DeBar recalls auto shows were scarce during that era, and the club believed Lansing deserved its own.

That year, the group successfully held Lansing’s first Autorama at the Lansing Civic Center and followed it up again in 1958 before the club’s members disbanded to start careers or leave for college.

Now, more than 52 years later, the Conquerors II is continuing the tradition with its fourth car show, which will be held at the Lansing Center.

In 2007, marking the Conquerors’ 50th anniversary, DeBar decided to commemorate the event with a three-day car show at the Lansing Center — and three years later, DeBar is at it again.

This year’s show will be held April 30 through May 2 and will feature more than 120 hot rods, custom cars and classic cars. The show will also feature several unique scenes to show off special vehicles.

An 80-foot-long Rosie’s Diner car will be on hand complete with sidewalks and cars parked out front in a drive-in setting. In addition, a 1933 Ford will be featured in a barn scene, having spent 40 years in a barn in storage.

Although the show is in its fourth engagement, the first show in 1957 almost never happened.

On the day the show was supposed to open, the civic center’s general manager and the Lansing police chief showed up to shut it down. When the Conquerors signed the contract with the civic center the eldest members were only 19 years old, well below the 21-year-old age limit to sign a legal contract. The officials hoped to close the show on a legal technicality.

However, the show did not shut down after Richard Drake, the club’s attorney, told the officials the contract had already been signed and the show had a legal obligation to continue.

Now, in 2010, the only thing that has changed is the club’s name — another club took the Conquerors’ name after its 1958 show.

Besides displaying classic cars, the show will feature a live D.J. playing music from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, as well as vendor booths and a slot car track for kids.

Conquerors II Auto Show

4-10 p.m. Friday, April 30,
10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, May 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 2

Center, 333 East Michigan Ave.

$6 adults, $12 children under 12