Donna Oun always wanted a ‘57 Chevy.
So her husband bought her one in 1988 — with a blue bottom, pearl white top and Tweety Bird on the trunk — and they joined a local car club for 1950s-era Chevrolets the following year.
“I just liked the way they looked,” Oun said of the model.
Chevy or Ford?
That’s the way it is across Erie County, where you live in either a Ford Town or a Chevy Town.
Except Amherst. That’s where Toyotas reign.
Of 39 villages, towns and cities in Erie County, Chevrolet came out on top in 20 communities, according to vehicle registration for 657,045 vehicles filed with the state DMV. Ford stood atop the list in 18.
The affinity for Ford and Chevrolet makes sense in a region that has a Ford plant in Hamburg and a General Motors plant in the Town of Tonawanda.
If you don’t believe the state numbers, then look at the local car clubs, like the Late Great Chevys and the Ford Lords.
Rich DeMarco, a member of the Buffalo Thunderbird Club for 30 years, owns a white 1959 Ford Thunderbird with a red interior. The model is known as the “Squarebird Convertible.” He’s owned seven or eight Thunderbirds in his lifetime.
DeMarco grew up around Fords. His father had several Thunderbirds, as did his friend’s father.
“My family was a Ford family,” he said.
The Thunderbird was Ford’s answer to the Chevy Corvette, which is also is popular in the area, he said.
DeMarco, who retired from working in Cadillac sales in 2010, described himself as the kind of person who likes something a little different than what everyone else has.
Chevrolet vehicles outnumber Fords in Erie County by about 24,000, according to state DMV data. There are sizable margins in places like Kenmore, where Chevy has a clear advantage. Or Orchard Park, which loves its Fords.
But in some towns, it’s close. West Seneca has 6,375 registered Chevrolets and 6,119 Fords. In Elma, there are 1,689 Fords and 1,554 Chevrolets.
Dave Albert of Clarence worked for General Motors for 37 years.
But he loves Ford Mustangs.
He has a 2008 GT 500 with 46,000 miles on it. He also has a 2017 GT 350 on order.
Albert said there’s a friendly rivalry between Mustang enthusiasts and fans of the Chevy Camaro.
Albert and his friends await the annual listing of car shows and cruise nights and take a keen interest in events geared to Camaros.
“All us Mustang people show up, just to piss them off,” said Albert, a member of the WNY Shelby and Mustang Club.
Oun with the ‘57 Chevy also has a Malibu and an Impala parked in her family’s Cheekotwaga driveway. And she is a member of the Tri-Five of Western New York.
The car club name refers to the members’ affinity for 1955, 1956 and 1957 Chevrolets.
Most of the ‘57 Chevy 150s are two-door, but Oun’s has four. At one point, it was the only four-door 1957 Chevy 150 registered in the state, she said.
The appeal of the ‘57 Chevy didn’t derive from family members, like the car tastes of many.
“My dad was actually a Pontiac man,” Oun said.
A couple other interesting facts revealed in the state data:
• After Chevy and Ford, the rest of the top 10 list of car brands in Erie County goes like this: Toyota, Honda, Jeep, Nissan, Dodge, Hyundai, Subaru and Buick.
• Nobody has registered a Hummer in Brant, Colden, Evans, Marilla, Newstead or Wales.
• One-fourth of the vehicles are either 2014, 2015, or 2016 models. But the data also includes 580 vehicles made in the 1930s.
• Many Ford and Chevy owners agree on one thing: color. Most of them are driving gray vehicles. Gray has been the top color for Fords and Chevrolets for nine of the past 10 years. The only exception: Erie County car owners registered more black Chevrolets in 2012 than gray models.
News Enterprise Editor Patrick Lakamp contributed to this report.