I have a friend who helped start the Citrus MOPARS car club and who is a real car enthusiast or, as some would say, a true “car guy.” His name is Mike Bonadonna and he owns a number of classic cars, two of which he purchased new many years ago, a 1986 Chrysler Fifth Avenue and a 1977 Dodge Charger. Before he moved his family from New Jersey to Florida about 13 years ago, he ran his own business repairing TV’s and radios. Since much of that business started to fade away with the era of throw-away electronics, he decided to head for a warmer climate and brought his classic cars with him.
Although Mike is basically a MOPAR guy, he also owns a 1966 fully restored red Mustang. The Mustang was originally purchased for his wife Laura but she prefers to drive their new car so Mike takes it to cruise-in’s and shows. Some of his other MOPARS are a 1965 Plymouth Sport Fury, a 1965 Plymouth Fury III station wagon and — my favorite — a 1959 Chrysler New Yorker. This car is a real beauty with light green exterior paint, great sweeping tail fins that seem to extend forever, lots of chrome and it is in great shape. It draws a lot of attention whereever Mike takes it. He usually wins an award for his cars when he takes them to shows.
Mike is the type of guy who buys a car and never wants to sell it. As you can imagine, it can be very difficult to get parts for cars more than 30 or 40 years old and they can be very expensive. He is always looking for deals on rare spare parts for his cars at shows and swap meets. Mike’s garage attic is full of such parts just in case he or one of his car enthusiast friends needs them in the future.
He has done much of the restoration work on his cars himself, including a very good job painting several of them. It seems like he can repair anything related to cars, particularly the classics.
Many of the car enthusiasts in the MOPAR and other clubs are always asking Mike’s advice on various problems they are having with their cars. He usually has a solution for them because he has probably experienced the same problem in the past and, many times, he ends up helping the MOPAR club members with the repair. He is the type of car guy who is always willing to help someone with a car problem.
Mike also has two cars waiting in the wings for his restoration magic — a 1983 Chrysler LeBaron convertible and the 1977 Dodge Charger. Since his other classic cars require a bit of regular maintenance and repair, he has not been able to progress very far on restoring the LeBaron and the Charger but I know he will get started soon. He has a four-car garage that obviously cannot fit all of his cars. He leases several local storage units to protect two of his cars from the weather. Unfortunately, many classic car owners rarely take their cars out of the garage or drive them for fear of rain or putting too many miles on them. Not Mike — he drives all of his fully-restored cars regularly to cruise-in’s, events and shows. In fact, he has driven the two 1965 Plymouths to events in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
For these reasons and his passion for cars, I consider Mike one of the few real genuine “car guys” I know.
♦ April 26 and May 3: Cruise-in hosted by Citrus County Cruisers at Wendy’s on U.S. 19 in Crystal River at 6 p.m.
♦ April 25: All American Muscle Night cruise-in at Arby’s on U.S. 19 in Crystal River at 6 p.m.
Ken McNally is a car enthusiast from Citrus County and his Car Corner columns appear twice each month on the second and fourth Fridays of the Hernando Today. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (352) 341-1165.