What’s better than riding a horse through downtown Calgary? How about riding in a 1966 Nudie Cohn Pontiac Bonneville convertible? That’s what Jann Arden and Paul Brandt will take the streets in for the 2016 Calgary Stampede Parade.
To say this car is a ‘sweet ride’ would be a bit of an understatement. Here are a few tidbits about this custom-designed vehicle:
- Nudie Cohn, the car’s designer, was born in Kiev as “Nuta Kotlyarenko” in 1902. He and his brother were sent to America to escape the pogroms against Jews in Russia. He got his start making undergarments (g-strings) for burlesque dancers in New York before moving to North Hollywood where he gained traction designing his signature rhinestone covered, custom stitched suits. His customers included Elvis, Hank Williams, John Lennon and John Wayne.
- As described by Driving magazine, the 1966 Bonneville features “Chrome-tipped longhorns, chrome-plated six-shooters, rifles and horses…and hand-tooled leather seats.”
- The dash is covered in more than 300 silver dollars. A special cover is used on sunny days because the sun’s reflection off the dollars makes it hard to see out the windshield.
- A cassette tape (a cassette tape!) plays sounds of horses neighing and cows mooing.
- Originally owned by Bill Herron, who started the white hat tradition for Calgary.
- Herron, a man about Calgary, ordered the car from Nudie in 1966 with the thought that it would be a great feature for Calgary Stampede parades. Since then, the vehicle has indeed ridden in many a Stampede Parade.
- Other famous passengers: Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and 1957-1963 prime minister John Diefenbaker.
- Only 18 western Nudie Cohn cars were ever made. As far as we know, only 9 are left.
- Dick Koetsier currently owns the convertible. At his recent wedding, the car brought his lovely bride to the ceremony.