Under The Hood

Buick club brings 'em in

One of the greatest car shows in the Twin Cities area is the Spring Extravaganza on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minn. I don’t praise the event because it’s early in the show season and we Upper Midwesterners are begging for a decent meet. I call it one of the greatest because it attracts great cars, has an excellent swap meet and a healthy car corral. And that’s always a great thing.

This annual event is hosted by the Gopher State Buick Club, a region of the Buick Club of America, but it’s not limited to Buicks. Sure, there are lots of “Tri Shields” around, from prewar cabriolets to Grand Nationals, but the event has a section marked off for every marque with a fair amount of representation. There’s a Studebaker section, a Cadillac section, a Mopar section, a Ford section and, well, you get the picture.

I give credit to the club for putting on a great event, because the venue has not been kind to car shows. The Minnesota State Fairgrounds once hosted a variety of car shows in its race track and surrounding areas, but once fairgrounds management decided to eliminate the decaying but historic race track, it left many events trying to find the perfect floor pan for an event. Many events once held in the race track withered, but the Spring Extravaganza remains strong.

Good weather helped the show attract nearly 1,000 cars and fill its swap meet and car corral sections to capacity. Here’s a few of the cool bits I saw while searching for rusty iron for my own junk:

It only took 7 G’s to park this 1924 Chrysler in your garage. The cute little coupe appeared to have fresh paint, decent rubber and good proportions. Not bad for $7,000.

If you think your restoration is taking forever, don’t feel too bad. The restoration of this 1935 Ford Tudor “slant back” was started in 1969, then took a hiatus for more than 30 years. Its current owner picked up the painted parts of the partially restored car and made it whole again. Not too many partial restos can claim completion.


The owner said only three 1939 Buick Century 61C convertible sedans are known to exist, and that’s not surprising. This body style was always expensive, and always low production, and after 1941 Buick became one of the last manufacturers to offer it.

Many Chrysler have the Highlander plaid-and-leather interiors, but not all of them were originally equipped with it. This 1950 Chrysler two-door is legit, and it has the emblem behind the front wheel to prove it. The window cooling unit, however, is after market. According to the owner, the original owner sold this car in his later years only to buy the John Deere tractor he dreamed of someday owning.


There were three 1957 Chevrolet four-door station wagons in the swap meet at the Spring Extravaganza. This Two-Ten and a Bel Air were the best deals at $1,500 a pop. The third was the worst of the three and was priced at $3,500. Its seller clearly didn’t do any comparison shopping.

Spotting one of these little California Specials is always a treat, and to me, they look best in this bright metallic turquoise. I’d follow those taillamps anywhere…

Here’s a sharp ‘Cuda, and decked out how you want one: Go-Wing, road lamps and packing a 440 Six Pack. It’s hard to beat that color on a ‘Cuda, too.

Here’s the opposite of the ‘Cuda above: a 1974 Barracuda with a slant six, and that’s cool, too. I’ve been following this gold Barracuda to car shows before it was old enough to wear collector plates (and before I was old enough to have a driver’s license). The original owner still has it, and it still has very low miles (less that 25,000). It was sold new by the long-gone Civic Center Chrysler Plymouth in St. Paul, Minn.

The Studebaker was out in force for the Spring Extravaganza. There aren’t many shows to spot Studebakers in the Twin Cities, but this Buick club-organized event attracts rarely seen cars all of the time, whether they’re prewar cars (including big “c” Classics) or late-model rarities (Grand Nationals).


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