Under The Hood

MSRA’s Back to the 50’s: Time travel at its best

The 390 engine in my ’62 Cadillac is just cooling following my return from the Minnesota Street Rod Association’s Back to the 50’s car show in St. Paul. While the coolant temperature drops, I thought I’d take a moment from our weekly Old Cars Weekly deadline to drop a few photos from the event on my blog to whet your appetite for the coverage coming in a future issue of OCW.

If you didn’t make it this year, you missed a great event with perfect weather. The 39th annual Back to the 50’s had about 12,000 cars and, from what I am told by State Fairground employees, record attendance on Friday. From cruising my ’62 around the grounds Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and from what others said, there were Saturday-size throngs of people all day Friday. Sunday afternoon seemed just as packed. Here’s a sampling of what packed the crowds last weekend, June 21-24:

After registration at the Mermaid Hotel, I kick off the weekend at the Dari-Ette Drive-In on Minnehaha Avenue on St. Paul's East Side.

The MSRA's Back to the 50's event really begins to turn back the clock Thursday evening with a stop at the Cottage View Drive-In in Cottage Grove, Minn. With a Walmart expected to take over the property soon, 2012 is expected to be the last year for this Back to the 50's ritual. That's a 1957 Chevrolet in the best color combo available that year (in my opinion): A Two-Ten in Harbor Blue with a Larkspur Blue fin and roof.

Hot rods, customs and stockers begin parking in front of the Cottage View Drive-In's screen before sundown.

Duesenberg Murphy Convertible Coupe at Back to the 50's.

Back to the 50's is the great melting pot of automotive history. Although the majority of the 12,000 cars are rods and customs, there are plenty of stockers, including "big C" Classics. This Duesenberg Murphy Convertible Coupe is owned by Minnesotan Joel Nystrom and in its own way, calls back to Minnesota during the 1950s when there was more than a handful of Model J's in the state.

Ford Model A truck hot rod.

This Model A Ford truck is more typical of what lines the tree-shaded roads around Back to the 50's in June. This red hauler caught our eye as being a little sharper than most.

Mild or wild, take your pick. The gasser '57 Chevrolet One-Fifty "Black Widow" clone packed a loud bark and a mouse motor.

Mild or wild, take your pick. The gasser '57 Chevrolet One-Fifty "Black Widow" clone packed a loud bark and a mouse motor.

1955 Ford Crown Victoria

Perhaps the most pleasant color to decorate Ford's prettiest 1955 model is Regency Purple on a Crown Victoria. Yeah, I'll drive that home.

Two 1934 Ford coupes

Before and After: Both are sweet rides, but I'll take the "before" 1934 Ford three-window coupe.

1949 Cadillac sedanette

This primo 1949 Cadillac sedanette boasted the first-year overhead-valve V-8. It had plenty of '49 brethren on the fairgrounds during Back to the 50s.

Would you believe there were TWO 1954 Buick Skylarks at Back to the 50's? And both were this color? The likewise beautiful 1956 Imperial hardtop is only slightly more common than the Skylark with 2,094 built versus 836 Skylarks.

1936 Ford three-window coupe with Harry Westergard-style grille treatment.

If this 1936 Ford three-window coupe won't throw you back into the '50s, there's no hope for you. The lowered Ford sported a Harry Westergard-style grille treatment right out of sunny So-Cal in the early postwar custom years.

1953 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Holiday Coupe.

Mmmm. '53 Olds 98 coupe. Tasty.

Related stories:

Read some of my favorite past Old Cars Weekly 1950s car and truck stories in “Just ’50s.”



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