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Grandpa still loves playing with toy cars



Published: Sat, June 23, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By ASHLEY POWERS

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- A few streets over from the chaos and hubbub of the Hot Rod Supernationals, Jon Michael Dana is transfixed in silence.

The car he sits in is a shiny flame red, its white seat buffed clean. The 5-year-old grips its steering wheel and pleads, "Grandpa, I want to sit with you."

"No," says Jon Falgiani. "You sit in your own car."

The 1957 Thunderbird really is Jon Michael's now, Falgiani explains.

How it started: He purchased the miniature electric car, which is about 5 feet long and 3 feet wide, about 15 years ago. The car sat neglected and covered with dust until Jon Michael discovered it.

Grandfather and grandson share a passion for cars. Falgiani has been restoring the Thunderbird for a month and a half.

Although he won't show it off along with the big cars swarming the A & amp;W parking lot, he will display it on his front lawn on Ron Park Place in honor of the Hot Rod Supernationals going on this weekend at the Canfield Fairgrounds.

Think of it as a minimuscle car show.

"I can set it down here, put Jon Michael in it, and he can wave to the cars that drive by," Falgiani said.

The car started life as part of a dealer promotion, meaning that the original owner had to win it in some sort of contest.

To the pair, the car is something special.

"When I saw it, I kinda fell in love with it," Falgiani said. "I thought, 'I'm gonna have to buy that.'"

Day-to-day responsibilities distracted Falgiani, and he put little effort into the battery-powered car until Jon Michael found it.

"Once he saw it, that was it," Falgiani said.

The Thunderbird was restored for about $250, which covered the ongoing repairs to the motor and taillight holders carved out of wood and encased in plastic.

Thrilled with the results, Falgiani purchased another minicar, a gas-powered 1959 Ferrari, about a month ago.

His favorite: When Jon Michael is asked which car is his favorite, he stares at the ground, smacks his head twice and answers, "The Ferrari."

"That's because it runs," Falgiani says.

At his age, Jon Michael can almost steer by himself when pushed, though occasionally he mixes up turning to his right with turning to his "other right."

Amid his enthusiasm for his cars, he suddenly looks up.

"Grandpa," he cries, "The car show's tonight."

Falgiani smiles.

Despite his own minishow, he still knows where he'll be the majority of this weekend -- at the fairgrounds.




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