Gunners Garage

Old Car Wisconsin

In 2008, when I started Gunner’s Great Garage in Manawa, Wis., part of my vision was a dream shared with my friend Larry Fechter of Iola to create an old car corridor in our county.

In southern Wisconsin they have the “Old World Wisconsin” living history site. In our area we’d like to see an ””Old Car Wisconsin” development where car hobbyists could come to spend a day or a week or a month and have tons of stuff to do.

Overly ambitious? I don’t think so.

I moved to this rural area from Staten Island, a borough of New York City. The “Big Apple” is an amazing place for people who like culture, great food, Broadway plays and lots more. Waupaca County, where Iola is located, is an equally amazing place for old car lovers, old cars and automotive history.

Within a 30 or 40 mile radius we have Old Cars Weekly, Gunner’s Great Garage, Kopecky’s Classics, Kasper Automotive, the historic Four Wheel Drive Auto Co., a number of large car collections including everything from a Duesenberg to a Viper-powered Dodge hot rod and three major national vintage vehicle events — the Iola Old Car Show, the Iola Military Vehicle Show and the Symco Shakedown. And this year the Masonic Temple in Manawa is going to host an all-Mustang show in August. (Believe me this Mustang event could get big, big, big!)

For many years Manawa (where my shop is located) has been famous for its rodeo, the biggest in the Midwest. Lately, it is becoming just as famous for old car stuff. In fact, if you have an old car with a Western theme (say the “Tales of Wells Fargo” Buick) you can enter it in the Manawa Rodeo Parade and win a prize. The Manawa community is also striving to build a new high school sports complex, so if you want some great advertising for your old-car hobby business, you can make a donation and get a plaque or sign put up at the new field. With all the old cars around this area, a lot of the “right” people would see your support.

Manawa has two vintage filling station buildings that make a great setting for old car photography. Any car clubs coming to this area should contact Gunner’s Great Garage to see if some great photo ops can be set up for you.

For information visit Come visit “Old Car Wisconsin” in the Iola area this summer. You’ll have a great time.

One thought on “Old Car Wisconsin

  1. John Ridge

    Some years ago as my wife and I got serious about researching and writing about the Yellowstone Trail, the 1912-1930 auto road, “A Good Road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound” and acquaintance from Madison suggest an “Old Road Wisconsin.” His idea was much like yours with an accent on road rather than auto. He suggested a partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society. That captured my imagination, but the realities of working with non-profits dampened the idea.

    Since then I have thought of the potential of a motel/hotel developer creating a 1920’s motel/hotel with appropriate camp sites and a short “old road.” Our interest is, of course, developing something like that along the Yellowstone Trail — and duplicating along the YT across the country.

    We are retired and must dedicate ourselves to getting our writing done so that people can learn about the Trail, but we certainly would like to be part of a “steering committee” to get something going.

    Any future to cooperation?
    John 715 834 5992 Altoona, WI


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