Cars of the Decade
By Brian Earnest & Old Cars Staff
We know that, technically, 2020 is still in the decade of the 2010s. Somehow, though, it still feels like we’ve moved on to a new decade when we start over at zero. And here at Old Cars, we like lists, so we thought the dog days of winter would be a good time to put together a list of some of our favorite cars that have appeared in the pages of Old Cars in the past decade.
We’ve had the fun and privilege of talking to thousands of cars owners about their cars over the years, and we’ve featured tons of awesome vehicles in this magazine. Trying to narrow them all down to a manageable list is kind of an exercise in futility, but it’s been fun looking back at the past 10 years and remembering the amazing folks and wonderful cars that we have crossed paths with.
The cars on this list have been included for any number reasons. It might be their status in the hobby (i.e. Jay Leno’s Model J Duesenberg). It might be because they have really cool back stories (there are a LOT of them). And it might be just because we thought the car owner was a fantastic person and we really dug them and their connection to their car (there are a lot of them, too).
Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite rides from the past 10 years:
1923 American (Owner: Susan Manherz)
Sue calls her old orphan touring car “Bud” and jokes that he’s an old, moody and sometimes cantankerous friend. He also might be the only survivor of his ilk on the earth. “In the 1960s there were three Americans known to exist, and all the owners knew each other,” Manherz said. “One was an earlier car that wouldn’t look anything like ours. It had a painted radiator shell and it was smaller. We haven’t been able to track it down. The man who had it died in the early ’70s and nobody knows what happened to the car. The [third] car was the same year as ours, but it was pretty much a parts car. It wasn’t complete. The guy who had it sold it, I know, and we’ve never found out what happened to it.”
The Manherzes have been able to trace the long history of Bud back to his beginnings, and they have discovered they are the fourth owners.Not many people who see the car probably realize it is the ultimate orphan, the last survivor of an obscure breed. “No, he’s not for sale. You figure, I could never get another one. If he was gone, he’d be gone for good,” Sue says. “And his personality grows on you. He’s part person.”
1928 Pontiac Landau coupe (Owner: Tom Schweikert)
Schweikert and his car are a match made in Old Car Heaven. The car needed somebody to love it, and Schweikert decided to go all out, turning the ratty barn-find Pontiac into possibly the nicest example in existence. This award-winning ’28 is pretty close to perfect. The car had belonged to a family in Indiana, there was a falling out of some kind, Tom’s brother bought the car for $900, then when his health failed Tom took the car and went all in on a meticulous restoration.
“I never saw another ’28 [Pontiac]. They aren’t common, and to this day I haven’t seen a finished ’28. I just had to figure out some of these things myself,” Tom said in the story. “It wasn’t easy to get everything in place, but eventually I did get everything right!”
“There’s no money, believe, me, no money that could buy this car. It’s part of my family, and after all these years, I know this car as well as I know the back of my own hand.”
If you ever see Schweikert at a show, stop and ask him about his Pontiac. He’s a great guy and he’ll talk your ear off, and the full story of this car is worth hearing!
1931 Duesenberg ModelJ LaGrande coupe, J-415
(Owner, Jay Leno)
Thanks to the magic of computers, the craftsmanship of Duesenberg historian and restorer Randy Ema and the passion of Jay Leno, one of the two lost 1931 Duesenberg Model J LaGrande coupes lives again.
Although the chassis started out with a LaGrande coupe body, all of the Duesenberg body parts were discarded in the 1940s when a new postwar-styled convertible coupe body was installed. To recreate the chassis’ original coupe body, almost every body part had to be made new (used front fenders from another car were sourced). Ema has nearly every Duesenberg Model J factory drawing, but not those for this car, so he only had a few photos for reference. It took many months, but Leno and Ema persevered and made this deserving car perfect again. It was a great score for Old Cars to get a chance to go see the car and visit at length with Ema. This car will no doubt remain one of the most noteworthy American cars in the hobby.
1930 Ford street rod (Owner: John Zick)
Zick conjured up some crazy dreams, and then he made them a reality with this spectacular green monster. You can’t help but love this thing when you see it up close – it’s got fun, clever touches all over the place, it’s loud and it’s actually drivable. This car is everything you want in a rowdy, one-of-a-kind street rod. Zick started with an original 1930 Ford body that he inherited from his stepfather. The heart of the beast is a blown 629-horse Chevy small-block.
Zick, went through a lot to get this thing built, and now he is having a blast.
1932 Buick Model 32-67 sedan
(Owners: Chuck and Dianna Nixon)
We were blown away by this fantastic Buick, which went from basket case to show-stopper. We featured this car on the cover of Old Cars and several other publications. The car had been sitting for decades, abandoned and alone in a Connecticut warehouse, and it needed a full restoration. In the end, the Nixons “swallowed hard and said OK,” according to Chuck, and thus began a three-and-a-half-year odyssey that ultimately produced a breathtaking result — a concours-quality specimen and surely one of the nicest, most-elegant prewar Buicks on the globe.
“Someday when I’m retired and wondering where all my money went, I’ll just look at the car and say, ‘Wow, there it is!’” Chuck joked. “But in no way could we be any happier with the car and the result. It’s been great.”
1936 Auburn Speedster (Owners: Curt and Janine Schulze)
This green beauty wasn’t one of those “numbers-matching” cars that are so coveted among collectors, but you’d never know it at first glance. The car was incomplete when it was purchased by the Schultzes, who own and operate their own Auburn parts and restoration business. Curt then found out the car had been in “some kind of horrific accident, because the frame and cowl had been changed, but the rear parts of the front fenders and the doors were still there and the Speedster rear fenders and golf door were there,” Curt recalled. “When I took the cowl off, I found the car was originally red and there had been a fire. And then what I suspect is, because it had some sheet metal flooring in it — makeshift stuff — that it probably sat outside for some time and rotted. The wooden sills were rubbish and a guy put new wood in the back and put some metal floors in that were very unprofessional. Whoever built the car, and painted it what looked like yellow refrigerator paint, was trying to build something on the cheap. He was doing the best he could in the ’60s or ’70s, or whenever the car was rescued from whatever fate had befallen it.”
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, as they say, and the couple managed to pick up all the pieces, and find a lot of new ones, to make the Speedster great again. Curt did most of the work himself, and as Angelo Van Bogart pointed out in the story, this car was lucky to land in the hands of a restorer who was willing to do whatever it took to make the car correct and concourse-quality again. This car deserved a great restoration, and the Schultzes deserve the great car they wound up with.
1942 Chrysler Town and Country sedan
(Owner: Jeff Larger)
Larger’s Town and Country woodie is truly a unique survivor — you won’t find anything else around quite like it.
“Everything was totally original on it when we got it in the ’60s,” says Larger. “That’s really been a key and crucial thing with this car. Other than my dad putting tires and a battery in it in the late 1960s, he hardly did a thing to it. He actually ran on the original tires — which were really very unsafe — for the first couple of years he had it.
“The wood on the car is just perfect everywhere. It’s aged and has a patina that can only exist through time … You can see the grain of the wood. It’s not pretty and show-class like stuff that’s re-done. The age is all there. The leather, the cracks, the smell of the car. It’s a richness that only time can deliver.”
A 1941-’50 Chrysler Town and Country woodie of any kind is a prize, but the Larger family’s car is truly unique on many levels. To begin with, it’s a stunningly original and low-mileage car. When our story on the car appeared a few years back, the odometer showed just 24,000-plus miles, and only about 2,000 of those have come since Jeff Larger’s father Richard bought it second-hand in Cleveland back in 1966. The interior and wood are all original to the car. The drivetrain is also authentic, although at one point, it did have its Fluid Drive transmission rebuilt.
It is one of only 999 Town and Countrys built for the 1942 model year, and one of only 150 six-passenger versions.
Simply an amazing car. For car lovers who covet originality, this is a dream machine.
1947 Studebaker M-5 pickup (Owner: Terry Frye)
When Frye bought his used-up pickup in 2003, he realized he had so many things to fix that he wound up buying a second Studebaker pickup as a donor truck. From that point, he combed the country tracking down parts and networking with Studebaker enthusiasts to figure out how to put an authentic M-5 back together.
Frye is only the third owner, and his Studebaker is truly spectacular — an almost perfectly restored truck, and a very rare one at that.
Studebaker dabbled in commercial cars and various express and delivery bodies during its early days, but didn’t officially launch a pickup truck until the car-based Coupe-Express arrived for the 1937 model year. The trucks sold in small numbers until 1941, when Studebaker took a big leap forward and launched the M-5 series of half-ton vehicles. They were not overly fancy — no truck on the market at the time was, but they were handsome by almost any measure, at least for a pickup. Their classy, vertical grilles were painted to match the body, the fenders were nicely integrated into the fenders, the windshields were raked and there was hardly a sharp edge on the truck — everything was rounded and seemed to flow together.
Frye figured he’d need to do some serious parts hunting to get his truck finished, and that proved to be the case. Fortunately, he was able to get assistance from fellow Studebaker buffs, who are generally a very accommodating bunch. “Through the network, through the Studebaker people, I found a few older gentlemen that had them, and I started talking to them and asking for advice,” he said. “I adhered to that and the project went real good, and once I got to know these older gentlemen, I could call them and they’d say, ‘I don’t have that part, but call so-and-so.’ So once I got in the network, parts came to me pretty readily.”
When it comes to pickups, this was definitely one of our favorites of the past 10 years.
1948 Buick Super (Owner: Tom Pfeiffer)
Pfeiffer passed away a few years ago, but we really enjoyed getting to know him and hearing about his love affair with his beautiful Buick. Pfeiffer was actually a retired Ford employee, but he always had an affinity for Buicks. He had pretty much given up on ever having one of his own, but then a friend put his ’48 up for sale and Pfeiffer jumped on it. He eventually gave the car a complete restoration, doing much of the work himself. He drove the heck out of the car after he got it back together, piling up 25,000 miles in more than a decade while sharing seat time with an Edsel.
Hopefully, whoever wound up with Tom’s Buick is giving it as much attention as he did.
1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible
(Owner: Ken Buttolph)
We couldn’t do a “Best Of” list of any kind without somehow involving Kenny, the beloved late former Old Cars staffer who had a million friends, a million stories, a small stature, and a big personality. And Kenny went through cars faster than most people go through socks.
Buttolph actually owned this car twice, buying it for the first time in the early 1960s from a Wisconsin go-cart track owner. “We pulled a pop-up camp trailer with it,” Buttolph said. “We would take the Town and Country nameplate off the back bumper and put a hitch on there.”
He eventually sold the Chrysler and it sat mostly untouched in a nearby barn for almost 50 years. The car was so well hidden, a local woodie restorer internationally known for Town and Country restorations and reproduction parts did not know of its existence. It also hid underneath the nose of the nearby Old Cars staff, yet all the while, it was owned by the family of an employee working for a sister magazine to OC. Well, it eluded everyone but Buttolph, of course. In 2010, Buttolph had the chance to buy back the Town and Country he first purchased in the early 1960s, and he didn’t hesitate. “When the [owner] died, it was in the will for them to offer it to me first,” he said at the time.
Buttolph owned more than 1,000 cars in his lifetime, and this was one of our favorites. At one point, he actually owned two original, unrestored Town and Countrys. This one he owned twice!
1949 Ford Deluxe two-door sedan (Owner: Bob Brown)
Bob’s wife, Judy, became a first-ballot Wife Hall of Famer back in 1994 when she snuck off to the bank, borrowed some money and bought Bob a 1949 Ford two-door sedan for Christmas. That loan, and a meticulous, 10-year restoration, resulted in one of the nicest 1949 Ford Deluxes you’ll find — a squeaky clean black beauty that has become a bit of a show piece in a Lewistown, Mont., car/truck/plane collection at a gathering place known as Jack’s Hangar
Brown had the car in the shop for a full decade before it was done, along the way changing the paint from its original rust color to black, like Brown’s earlier ’49 Ford.“My original car was black and I wanted this one to be black, too,” he said. “We actually changed the color number on the firewall so it would match the color of the car.”
“It was fun to put it all together. Probably my biggest joy was just working on the car and working on the restoration. You realize when you do one of these projects … you think about the guys that were putting these things together originally in a few hours in the assembly plant. For them to get it all to fit together as good as they did is amazing.”
Another wonderful guy with a wonderful car.
1951 Buick XP-300 concept (Owner: Sloan Museum)
GM bigshots Charles A. Chayne, Harley J. Earl and Ned F. Nickles all had a passion for beautiful cars, and that led to the creation of the Buick XP-300 (originally labeled XP-9), a true dream machine.
In 1951, it was hard to imagine a 16-ft.-long convertible that glided only 6-1/2 inches above the ground. Part sports car and part space ship, the car had an “electric shaver” grille, a wraparound windshield, a tri-finned tail with the electric radio antenna protruding from the center fin and flashy side trim that would have looked right at home on Buck Rogers’ interplanetary cruiser. It even had push-button power seats and windows!
The XP-300’s beauty and innovation went beneath its aluminum skin. Four hydraulic jacks were hidden under the body work and elevated either the driver or passenger side of the car. Upon shutting the doors, steel bars hydraulically slid out so that the car was more rigid, as these bars completed the rollcage-like framework within the body.
Chayne reported that he attained a top speed of 110 mph in the car, which bears his initials on the trim panels at each front fender. It was also reported that Chayne and GM president Charles Wilson drove the car 110 mph, and he also wrote that Buick general manager Ivan Wiles then took it up to 140 mph.
1951 Dodge mail truck (Owner: John Butner))
Butner is a big ol’ bear of a guy with a soft spot for basket cases and projects that nobody else would want to tackle. He almost met his match trying to resurrect this lumbering 1-ton beast. “I really didn’t want to see it go to the crusher, and that’s where it was going,” Butner noted at the time. “I worked on it about a year and a half. I had times when I put it in a corner and walked away; I had to go think about it. I’d leave it sit for a week and then say, ‘Well, I gotta do something with it’ and I’d get back to it. I couldn’t just let it sit there.”
Even some of his best car buddies told him he had bitten off more than he could chew when he rescued the old Dodge, which was half buried and had to be excavated out of the dirt. There wasn’t much left to save, they told him, and what was left was not worth the time and effort.
“Guys laughed at me. They really did. They laughed. They said, ‘What are you going to do with that thing?’” Butner recalled. “I like it because every show you go to you see a lot of Tri-Five Chevys, and you see a lot of Camaros and Mustangs and all that stuff. And I appreciate that stuff, I really do, because I know what these guys have went through to put this stuff together. Still, I like to look at something different.”
Not long after he got the truck finished, Butner received a special request to be part of a funeral procession for a former postal worker who had just died. Butner didn’t know the man, but he happily obliged. “I told them as long as we weren’t trying to go anywhere fast,” he says. “This thing only goes about 45 mph.”
1953 Chevrolet resto-mod pickup (Owner: Don Boxx)
Boxx says he got totally carried away hot-rodding his ’53 Chevy hauler, which was actually pretty nice before he started monsterizing it. Once Fred Kappus and the boys at Fast Freddie’s Rod Shop in Eau Claire, Wis., got ahold of it, all bets were off. Soon, the 383 stroker was gone in place of a modern Chevy crate motor. That was quickly followed by all-new modern suspension and brakes … and, well, the genie was out of the proverbial bottle. Kappus has always envisioned building a uber-modern hauler with a steely gray paint scheme. This custom pickup was meant to look cool, but mostly it was designed for driving fun and exhilarating weekend runs on open roads. In that regard it seems to be living up to the hopes of both builder and owner.
“I like everything, but I guess the thing I like best about it honestly is just the speed,” Boxx says. “It’s just so quick, so fast. There is just nothing on the truck that is less than 110 percent. Inside and out, it’s flawless.”
1954 Lincoln Capri (Owner: Dan Staehle)
Staehle says he didn’t even know what a Capri was when he first heard about the beautiful, black 1954 coupe that he wound up buying. “A woman I used to work with inherited it,” he recalled. “When she first told me in ’88 that she had gotten this big Lincoln, I asked what kind of Lincoln is it and she said it was a Capri. I thought she’d say something like a Continental or something like that, because that’s what we associate with Lincoln. I thought, ‘Capri?’ So I went to the library, and I did some research from these cars.”
It didn’t take long for Staehle to dig into the Capri’s performance history, and read up on how the Lincolns cleaned up in the Panamerica race from 1952-’54. The races lasted five days and covered 1,908 miles, and established the Lincolns as some of the hottest street cars of their time.
This Capri had been rarely driven in the previous decade and remained in remarkably good shape. It needed a little bit of body and paint work, new wiring and some beautifying in the interior, but its overall condition reflected the low mileage on the odometer.
Staehle isn’t kidding when he says you can barely hear the Capri run. You need to stick your head under the hood to hear anything at all. “I did all the work on it … and when you do all the work yourself, it grows on you,” says. “It’s something I did, I really like the car, and I want to keep it.”
1955 Chevrolet Cameo pickup (Owner: Jeff Ralph)
Ralph had no real experience restoring an old car or truck, had never owned one and had no clue how rare a Chevrolet Cameo Carrier pickup was. All things considered, he’s kind of glad he didn’t know what he was working on when the whole saga first began. “When I first bought it, nope, I was totally clueless,” Ralph chuckles. “Now it’s a big deal!
“I had never restored a car before, and I said, ‘Well, it’s too late now, it’s gotta start going back together,’ so I’d take a piece, sandblast it, prime, pack it away, and I just kept doing that piece by piece. Pretty soon I got to the frame, and then it was just like a big Lego set — just start putting everything back together one piece at a time…I guess when it was done I still really didn’t understand how important it was or how rare they were, but as I started getting into it more and more, I kind of found out.”
Before he bought the truck from his boss, Ralph had been the one tasked with pulling the Cameo out of the shed where it had been sleeping for years. He’s not sure how long it had been since the pickup had moved, but it had clearly been in hibernation for an extended stretch.
The truck was a very low-option example. It was ordered with radio delete and has basically no factory options. “It’s got no power steering, no power brakes and bias-ply tires,” Ralph says. “It’s kind of a handful.”
1957 Chevrolet custom (Owner: Ray Hott)
Hott at one time had a collection that numbered nearly 100 cars. There were a bunch of show-stoppers in the fleet, but none of them sucked your eyeballs in more than this spectacular ’57 Chevy sedan. There isn’t much left on this car that was original, but we’ll forgive him for that. Hott and the crew at RPM Customs in DeKalb succeeded in putting together one of the most awesome customs we’ve featured in Old Cars in a long time. “We looked at the car — and it’s a post car,” Hott said, “which isn’t the most desirable of the ’57s,I just thought,‘What can we do to make this car really special? And this is what we came up with [laughs].”
Under the hood, the fancy Chevrolet has plenty of extra fabrication and custom shrouds to hide some of the mechanicals, and the 396 V-8 is sourced from a 1970 Chevelle. Inside is a custom, plush, ultra-clean tan leather interior that’s classy and cool. “It kind of kept evolving and we did a lot of things not really necessary, like we boxed the frame,”Hott added. “And the underside of the car is as perfect as the top side. It’s hard to find a flaw in it.”
1958 Dodge Lancer (Owner: Chris Cutts)
We’ve spotlighted a lot of big-finned MoPars over the years, so it was tough to narrow it down. We picked Chris Cutts’ car for this list because it was an old-school backyard restoration that he did himself the hard way. He had help from a local shop with the final bodywork and paint, but Chris put a lot elbow grease into his project, and the end result is a gorgeous Desert Rose and Gun Metal Gray cream puff.
“You see so many advertisements or old pictures of demolition derbys and you’ll see all these Dodges upside-down,”Cutts noted. “That’s what everybody was doing – ‘just get rid of ’em.’ They weren’t on the road for very long, which doesn’t help with availability of parts… It’s very hard to find stuff, which is why I have a few parts cars tucked away in the woods. With a restoration these days, you need two or three cars just to make sure you can finish one up.
“This is a 3,800-lb. car, and it floats down the road. It’s a little more nimble than a Chrysler would be. For an old car, they are a floating magic carpet ride.”
1958 Jaguar Mark VIII (Owner: Mike Kurtzweil)
We had to get at least one European car on the list, so we’ll go with one restored not far from Old Cars HQ in Central Wisconsin. Kurtzweil spent four long years doing a complete makeover of his stately Jag, and its truly one of the most beautiful cars of its kind you will see anywhere. The end product would make any high-end restoration shop envious.
“It came off the truck with no brakes on it, looked at the interior and thought, ‘Oh my God,’” he chuckles. “It had mice in it and everything else. You couldn’t hardly stand next to it because it smelled so bad from the mouse excrement. I knew it was a project. All the rust spots and everything had been puttied up so it looked halfway decent, but there was putty in the front and damage in the front of the car,” he recalled. “They had packed so much putty into the holes there was just clumps of Bond-O in the rocker panels and everywhere else. It had had a hard life.”
Queen Elizabeth was said to have one of these Jaguars in her garage. She would probably have no qualms riding in this one — it’s nice enough for royalty.
1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk (Owner: Joe Parsons)
This Studebaker was in Parsons’ family right from the beginning, first at his dad’s Studebaker dealership, and then with his uncle, who bought it back as a used car. A few years later, Parsons’ uncle won a new 1961 Plymouth Valiant in a raffle, and he didn’t have much use for the Golden Hawk. Eventually, the car was parked and left to sit at Parsons’ grandparents’ house.
In 1966, Joe was drafted into the U.S. Army and a year later his uncle died. “My grandmother was executrix of the estate, and she asked, ‘What do you want to do with your uncle’s car?’” he recalled. “I said, ‘I want it! I want the Hawk. I’m going to restore it!’”
“My goal was always to restore the Golden Hawk, and I had the foresight to go to South Bend in 1966 when Studebaker went out of business, and with all the parts books and stuff, I had written down all the pieces I needed for the car, from bumper to bumper. So I bought all that, put everything in boxes, sprayed all the fenders in oil and all that and hung them. I just rounded up everything I needed and kind of stored it all away.”
His Hawk was originally gold with white fins. It was repainted Red and Jewel Beige, a much rarer factory choice for the cars — only five were painted that way in 1958, according to Parsons.
The car has been a frequent guest at concours events and is an AACA Grand National winner with many best of class awards to its credit. “The Hawk will stay with me as long as I’m alive,” he says. “We have a couple people that want the car badly. One guy keeps saying, ‘Sooner or later I will own that car!’ but I’m not ready to let it go.”
1959 Ford Galaxie 500 (Owner: Tim Benson)
It seems only fitting that Benson is the stunning car’s proud owner, although it has been anything but a quick and easy journey. The car first belonged to a family friend, then went to Tim’s dad, Jim, and eventually to Tim. Then it endured a rather lengthy — and expensive! — stint off the road being restored. In the end, though, Benson achieved his goal: preserving the venerable Galaxie and getting to add to all the great memories he has of the car.
Benson found out just how challenging it can be to restore a 50-plus-year-old, full-size, chrome-laden 1950s cruiser. Even though the Ford was complete and in good shape for its age, there was nothing easy about bringing it back to like-new condition.
“Once you start a project like this, you don’t know where to stop. Basically, four years later, we redid the whole car. I’ve got about $60,000 or $70,000 into it. I probably spent way too much. There were times, I’m telling you, about halfway through it, where I wanted to call it quits because, ‘I’m getting buried here.’”
We really enjoyed learning about all Tim’s memories of the car from when he was a kid, and the deep attachment he has to the big Ford. It’s a great car that is in very good hands.
1959 Chevrolet Impala convertible “fuelie”
(Owner: Tom Dietz)
The red top-of-the-line Chevy is equipped with power windows and power seat and a 3.55 Positraction rear, as well as its two hottest options: thefour-speed manual transmission and, of course, that ultra-rare passenger car Rochester fuel injection unit on its 283-cid V-8.
“It is one of 26 made,” Dietz said of the fuel-injected full-size Chevy, “And from the last year for the fuel injection(regular production option 578) and the first year you could get a ‘four on the floor’ for a passenger car.”
Although the 1959 Impala has been perfectly restored, Dietz hasn’t let its primo condition stop him from enjoying the 283 engine’s 290 horses from time to time, or the car’s top-down pleasures.
“It’s like driving on your sofa, but once you put the top down and the boot on, there is nothing like it.”
1963 Chevrolet Corvette roadster (Owner: Steve Stone)
This is probably the highest-mileage Corvette that ever lived. In the fall of 2018, Stone was closing in on 600,000 miles!
The car has been driven almost daily for nearly all its life — most of which was spent in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The car has ventured to all 48 lower states — including 46 in the past eight years — and nine Canadian Provinces. It has survived trips of 7,100 miles in 2008 and 6,000 miles in 2007. And many of its miles in recent years have come with a trailer rolling behind it. The car is now on its fourth engine, it’s had the front clip wrecked and replaced four times, it’s been repainted four times and had the interior upholstery replaced twice. Even the frame hasn’t been spared; it rusted through and broke back in the 1980s.
If Stone has his way, his tireless ’63 will be still be criss-crossing North America years from now, long after he’s gone. And it’s certainly not going anywhere while he’s still around. It’s the only car he ever really wanted, and Stone doesn’t see that changing.
“I’ve had it this long and there’s no reason to change it,” he said. “It’s got what I want. It’s got power, it’s got simplicity, it’s got history. My kids were raised in it. They drive it. My grandson’s driving it now. It’s a family heirloom now. “
1965 Dodge Town Wagon (Owner: Bernie Pranica)
When Pranica needed something vintage to pull his 1964 Airstream, he found an ideal choice in his rugged and ageless Town Wagon.
“I found this in New Mexico. Apparently the truck originally came from SanDiego and spent its life on a Navy base …I think what it was used for was to go out on the flight line and take the pilots to and from the hangar … Consequently, there were only 34,000 miles on it in 2012 when I bought it.”
It wasn’t long after he got it off the transport that Pranica started remaking the big green Town Wagon. The Dodge needed plenty of work, but had no major issues and was exactly the kind of solid, rust-free, strong-running machine that Pranica had been hoping for.
The color of choice was the truck’s factory original Turf Green with white trim.Some new stainless bits and some nice-looking whitewall tires helped finish things off. If Shrek could have an SUV, this is the one he’d want.
1965 Ford Galaxie 500 (Owner: Ken Anderson)
Anderson has long been a devoted fan of the “The Andy Griffith Show” and all it stood for, but that connection reached a whole new level in 2010 when he added to his Mayberry memorabilia collection with the ultimate prize — a replica sheriff’s car. The ’65 Ford isn’t quite an exact match for the cars used in the show’s sixth season — when the series finally went color, but it’s close. Anderson’s car is a Galaxie 500, while the car used on the show was a base-level Custom sedan. But the car looks great, is wonderfully authentic, and more than fills the bill at the many appearances Anderson makes each in year, in full police uniform, spreading the Mayberry gospel.
According to Anderson, the Galaxie 500 had originally been all white and was converted to a Mayberry TV car clone by a man in Tennessee. The Ford has the proper black-and-white paint job, police decals, siren, vintage Motorola police radio, and single flashing red light on the roof. “Mt. Pilot Ford, Mt. Pilot, N.C.” is stenciled on the edge of the trunk lid for some added authenticity. He even has an authentic“JL 327” North Carolina license plates.
Many of Anderson’s appearances involve taking kids for rides and letting them crawl around in the car and test of the siren and light. “I guess I’m not as careful as I would be if it was totally restored,” he admits. “I want it to look like a police car. It’s my fun thing and I want to be able to use it.”
1970 Pontiac GTO Judge convertible
(Owner: Steve Demars)
We were smitten with this the immaculate “triple-black” ragtop and its perfect paint, perfect interior and that ominous 366-horse, 400-cube Ram Air III engine living under the hood. The fact that the car is nationally known and decorated and one the few ’70 GTO convertibles you’ll ever find with factory air-conditioning was pretty cool, too.
The Starlight Black GTO has traveled full circle in its four-plus decades of life. It began as a bit of a show piece for a Tennessee car dealership, became transportation for many years for its first owner — a woman — and was eventually taken apart and put back together again as a near-perfect specimen.The car was originally delivered to Benton Pontiac-Buick in Cleveland, Tenn., with a fully loaded window sticker and an asking price of 4,955.98. The woman who bought it probably had no idea that she was buying an unusual muscle car when she signed her name on the title, but she apparently liked the car, because she kept it until 1990. Demars kept track of it through the GTO Association of America and eventually got his hands on it.
“Five of them were triple-black with air conditioning, but we haven’t found another one yet,” he says. “People will say they know where one is, but we’ve never seen one. It’s got a little history behind it…. It’s not a car that people don’t know about.”
1972 Ford Pinto (Owner: Mike Christenen)
Ford cranked out more than 3 million of the economy boxes in the 1970s, but attrition has taken a heavy toll and nice specimens are fairly scarce these days, particularly in winter climates like Wisconsin. A Pinto wasn’t even on the Christensens’ radar — even though they are a die-hard Ford couple. That is, until they spotted one a few years back not far from their home.
“We had the ’66 Mustang and we were showing that, and I thought, ‘ I’d like to have my own classic car.’ I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew it had to be a Ford, of course,” Jude laughs. “I’m not a fancy person so I just wanted a nice little car and we happened to notice there was a Pinto for sale. I didn’t remember them at all. I just saw that Pinto sitting over there on the street and just thought, ‘This is the cutest little car I’ve ever seen,’ so right then it was like, “ I want a Pinto.’”
The little Ford has certainly filled the bill as a fun, bargain hobby car for the Christensens, who happily drive their shiny little Ford to weekend car shows around Wisconsin. The couple often caravans with the Pinto and one of their three other hobby cars — the ’66 Mustang, a 1973 Mustang Mach 1 and a 1974 Mustang II.
“It’s like being back in the ’70s,” Jude says. “No power steering, no power brakes … But I love driving it.”
1974 Chevrolet “Emerald Express” Van
(Owner: Scott Kauffman)
Kauffman was a child of the ’70s, so he grew up with his share of customized vans, most of them serving as daily transportation and weekend vacation machines long before minivans and SUVs took over. He dabbled with a variety of collector vehicles over the years and had some fun with a 1977 Chevrolet “shorty” custom van for a while, but nothing like the dazzling “Emerald Express” 1974 Chevrolet custom.
“The van was just so original! The tires were 20-plus years old. The [wheel] flairs had a few small chips and cracks. There were things that needed to be done. Nothing had been done to it in 20-plus years, but it was perfect because everything was there. It didn’t need anything. It had all been painted green up underneath and in the suspension. You could loosen every bolt on it … It was just an amazing example, especially for the Northeast.”
It took a little convincing and some negotiating, but Kauffman was finally able to pry loose the van and bring it home. “I said that if I can’t have it, that’s OK, but you need to do something with in it or you’re gonna destroy it,” he said. “If you just let it keep sitting outside like that, you are just going to ruin it. That paint and the lacing and everything, you can’t re-do that. If it all starts cracking and deteriorating, it would just be destroyed.”
The van was apparently a big hit on the show circuit in the mid-to-late ’70s, and Kauffman inherited plenty of plaques and hardware to prove it. The plaques show the van appeared at places such as the Susquehanna Valley Van Show, Baltimore World of Wheels, Hershey World of Wheels and others. “He only showed it in East Coast stuff, but back then there were van shows every weekend somewhere,” Kauffman said. “I’ve literally got a van full of trophies for it back in the day.”
1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS (Owner: Verlyn Rasmussen)
Rasmussen’s 1986 Chevrolet is his pride and joy and has always been coddled and babied. There are plenty of fourth-gen Monte Carlo SS’s around, but few can approach the showroom condition of Rasmussen’s car or the paltry 5,200+ miles on the odometer.
“I don’t want a restored car, I want an original car. Maybe that’s part of why it doesn’t have a lot of miles on it,” jokes Rasmussen. “I know what guys who restore cars go through. It’s not appealing to me with the waiting process. I’m not a patient person that way.”
Aside from a few oil changes, the condition of Rasmussen’s car is almost identical to the day it left the local dealership for the first time. He recalls rotating the tires once, and he sprayed the inside of the wheel wells a while back to make absolutely sure he’d have no rust problems — not that the Monte Carlo SS will ever see snow.
“I actually never did say, ‘I’ve got to keep the miles off,’ I just want to keep it as nice as possible, condition-wise,” he says. “When people see it, it’s a positive reaction to the car because it’s like looking at a brand new 1986 Monte Carlo SS, and not many people can do that anymore.”