ISHPEMING - Model A Fords of all colors and types made their way through Ishpeming and Negaunee Thursday as a parade of cars for the Model A Ford Club of America's national convention.
The 155 cars that were projected to be in the parade were led by one particularly famous vehicle - the 20 Millionth Ford, driven by its owner Rod Liimatainen.
"It's kind of overwhelming for me," said Liimatainen, who now lives in Chassel. "It's very exciting."
Model A's line the streets of Ishpeming during a parade on Thursday. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
Once thought to have been lost in a fire, the 20 Millionth Ford had been purchased by Liimatainen's father after it had been taken off of display at the Henry Ford Museum. Owned by his family for more than 70 years, the car spent much of that time in a garage in Aura.
Now fully restored, it is leased to the Ford museum and was trailered to Marquette County as a special attraction at the convention.
Painted black and labeled "20 Millionth" on the sides and top, the car is a big part of Ford's history and connection to the Upper Peninsula.
"I hadn't driven it in 50 years," Liimatainen said. "I drove it last when I was 18."
The long time between drives wasn't an issue, however, and after a brief test drive earlier in the day, Liimatainen was set to lead the parade.
"It was wonderful. It was just great," he said. "It drives very well and rides very well.
"It's just amazing to see the quality of these cars and the number of them in the U.P."
Prior to the start of the parade, Ishpeming Mayor Pat Scanlon, on behalf of the Superior A's chapter of MAFCA, presented Liimatainen with a special "20,000,000" Michigan license plate, as was done during the 20 Millionth Ford's original tour of the United States in the 1930s.
The parade ran from the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum parking lot through downtown Ishpeming to Negaunee and back, with the Model A drivers sounding a variety of different horns - from the traditional "aaaooogah" to ones that sounded like whistles.
Area residents lined the parade route, admiring the vehicles, many of which were painted in bright colors, and waving at the visiting Model A owners.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.