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Brantford Piston Pushers’ Car Club on eve of its 70th anniversary  

Community ProfileBrantford Piston Pushers’ Car Club on eve of its 70th anniversary  

After close to seven decades in existence, the Piston Pushers have become one of the oldest and most respected car clubs in North America and it all started in Brantford.

Brian Bowerman, who has been the President of the club for the past six years and a member for close to 16 years, discussed its early beginnings.

“It was established in 1954 and today it is still one of the largest clubs in North America. There are some other clubs around [such as the] Kohler Dragway…we were one of the nine clubs in Ontario,” said Bowerman. “The club itself was involved in drag racing for quite a few years.”

This is a picture of the original Piston Pushers Car Club building circa the 1950s. Photo courtesy Brantford Piston Pushers Car Club.

Bowerman, like many past and present members of the club, has had a life-long passion for cars—especially in restoring them—and in his case, started when he helped his father build a 1927 Dodge when he was a child.  However, Bowerman further discussed the club’s history.

“They used to have the car club out in a number two highway, they’re just outside the city. And then once that went away, due to cost…the club diminished a little bit, [but] it never did disappear. It always had several guys involved in the club,” Bowerman continued. “Then we’ve got lots of members that have garages, and shops. And that’s what we do. If you’ve got a specific problem or something to do, and then we’ll get together at an individual’s garage and go and help them work on this stuff.”

This is a vintage picture of many of the original members of the Brantford Piston Pushers circa the early 1960s. Photo courtesy Brantford Piston Pushers Car Club.

However, one of the major goals for the Piston Pushers is to be involved in charity work in the Brant County community and beyond.  

“We pretty much try to find a different [charity] each year, but [we have worked with] the Crossing all Bridges. It’s an association that helps people with Down syndrome…and we’ll put a car show on for them. And whatever money we can raise will go to them. The club is [always] looking to help people out…We also do a lot of the homes for the elderly [and] we’ve had a couple of three of them this year…we just try to put a smile on people’s faces by having them look at the old cars [and] maybe go through their old memories,” stated Bowerman.

The Piston Pushers are also active in various other events throughout the year.

“We put together shows car shows [and] work with vendors that have flea markets and swap meets, and that type of thing we get quite involved with that. We’re involved with a lot of the car shows that go on. Pretty much coast to coast. We had guys that were involved in the cruise that started in Newfoundland and went right out to Alberta…. There was about 150 cars involved….picking up people as they went across the country,” Bowerman explained.

Various members of Piston Pushers are pictured here at the 40th annual Waterford Pumpkin Fest/ 31st annual Pumpkin Fest Car Show. The club is involved in many events including charity initiatives throughout the year. Photo courtesy Brantford Piston Pushers Car Club.

Bowerman, noted that the Piston Pushers, which currently boosts close to 100 members and even some original members in their 90s, have a rigid application process.  

“Being a club member isn’t just a matter of somebody coming by and simply joining the club. They have first of all there is a there is an application form [and] have to know somebody in the club for a year. And there’s a year’s probation about getting involved because if you’re going to be a member of the piston pushers…you’ve got to get involved with the club,” said Bowerman.

The Brantford Piston Pushers Car Club were heavily involved in dragster racing and competition in the 1950s and 1960s. Photo courtesy Brantford Piston Pushers Car Club.

Nevertheless, Bowerman and the Piston Pushers Car Club will be celebrating its 70th anniversary in the New Year and are focused on making it a memorable year.

“We are working right now on putting together the venue for [our anniversary.] And it’s coming together nicely but a little too early to give any real specifics on it,” said Bowerman.

Brantford Piston Pushers Car Club periodically get together at one of their members’ garages or workshops inviting speakers and talking about their projects. Pictured here is a Shop Talk held at Nick Schira’s in 2022. Photo courtesy Ray Smith.

He then discussed an annual event which will promises to be bigger in 2024 because of the Piston Pushers’ 70th anniversary.

“Twelve years ago, we started what we call a ‘Remember When Cruise’ and what we do is we all gather at the Canadian Tire lot in Brantford…and we registered there and then we have the cars driving through the city. We [had] a specific route [with] checkpoint where you go in you check your car in and stay in chitchat with people for a while. It’s a bit of a car show at each location,” Bowerman continued. “And then come back and then about eight o’clock at night. In the Canadian Tire we got together there we parked the cars. We have upwards of 300 to 400 cars all together at one spot at the end of the night…we have music and draws…If you’re a car enthusiast or even just want to come out and have a good evening. That’s what that evening is for.”

Here are a few pictures of vintage cars from various Piston Pushers members. From Top to Left: Harold Aasla’s 1954 Cadillac; Pat Giles 1930 Ford Woody; Doug Woodley’s 1929 Model A; Murray Tuck’s 1929 Roadster; Dan Bratina’s 1972 Nova SS & Don Blake’s 41 Mercury Coupe. Photo courtesy Harold Aasla, Pat Giles, Doug Woodley, Murray Tuck, Dan Bratina & Don Blake.

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