Under The Hood

A Back to the 50’s blast

As someone who spent tens of thousands of dollars and several years of his life getting a journalism degree, I hate the MSRA’s Back to the 50’s event. As a car enthusiast, the event is like Christmas in June.

I’ve been going to the show since ’84 or ’86, an age when all I cared about was if I had enough money to buy a pack of gum after I spent my allowance on a car magazine. Today, I worry whether I have enough money to afford groceries and magazine subscriptions after I buy car parts, and if I’ll have enough time to visit with all my family and friends during Back to the 50’s weekend.

As an Old Cars Weekly staffer, I should be finding the next story while walking among the 12,000 cars on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds during Back to the 50’s. Instead, I am finding old friends, family members and new friends I have made while working at Old Cars Weekly. My “happy medium” is a mix of walking and talking, and pointing my lens toward the extra-cool cars on the fairgrounds, even if the owner isn’t standing nearby (and they rarely seem to be).

For your viewing pleasure, I have included some of my faves from the show below. If you were at the show, don’t be surprised if your phone rings. Now that I am back in the office with my reporter’s hat on, I’ll be following up on some of the hot iron that was at the show. And that hot iron may very well have been your car or truck.

My friends Roy and Cindy Mastel, whose muscle car restoration shop has been featured in Old Cars Weekly, have been hard at work bringing “The Blunder” back to life since last winter. This is Roy’s first race car (it’s a ’50 Ford), which he began driving in the early 1970s when he was just a teenager. The car has come and gone from the Mastels’ garage a couple times, but the vintage gasser is back to stay now. Amazingly, it still retains its original 1962 paint job from its first driver and this year marks the first time Mastel has driven it on the street.


There’s just something about those “Ford’s Better Idea” models that makes me stop and point my camera to them. This 1955 Crown Victoria was a stunner. Someday, I hope to have one in my garage.

I counted two 1956 Plymouth Fury two-door hardtops at this year’s event (and a third phantom “Fury sedan”). One of the legit Furys was this mostly original example, which is just how I like ’em — lots of patina. Dig the “Mountain Fury” can propped by this car’s front tire (pic below).

Straight ahead of the ’56 Fury was this 1959 Dodge convertible in the same two-tone pink as my buddy Jerry Kopecky’s two-door hardtop. Maybe ol’ Jerry will bring his ’59 to BTT50’s one year and park it next to this drop top.

The show is Back to the 50’s, but this ‘Vette is more “Back to the ’60s” with its heavy metallic paint and late-Roth-esque pinstriping. Lots of people dropped their heads to pop around this time capsule ‘61 Corvette roadster. A particularly nifty touch was the period “Coolerator” emblem on the console, likely nabbed from grandma’s heavy-as-a-tank, Kelvinator-style ‘fridge.

When’s the last time you snapped your neck around for a Hupp? Yeah, before Back to the 50’s, I couldn’t remember, either. This bright white ca-1935 Aerodynamic Hupmobile sedan was slow and low cruising the grounds among all the hot rods and other pre-1965 cars and trucks.


Packing plenty of Poncho power was this crazy-cool 1961 Pontiac coupe sporting a 421 aspirated and juiced by a dual fours on a wicked cross-ram intake setup. The car also had an aluminum front bumper and work Arnie Beswick’s name above the doors. Righteous.

Nope, this photo isn’t misplaced, there really was a Duesenberg Model J with Murphy coachwork at Back to the 50’s, packed neatly adjacent to a tubbed straight-axle Corvette roadster and down the road from several street rods. Actually, there were several Duesenbergs in Minnesota through the 1950s, including a Beverly sedan, the Twenty Grand and several others. I have to say, in at least 25 years of going to Back to the 50’s, this is the first time I have seen a J at the show, and I hope there are plenty more.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.