Back to the 50's - 2008

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Flamed Fords, patina-ed Plymouths and stock Studebakers were just some of the righteous machines that rolled into the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for the 35th annual Back to the 50’s event, held June 20-22 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minn.
The show packed in a gate-busting 11,711 1964-and-older cars and trucks, surely a record for this event and helping make this one of the biggest car shows out there. And if it’s not the biggest, it’s certainly one of the best.
In addition to the show, manufacturers set up around the tree-lined fairgrounds, there is a Mecum auction and a Sunday-only swap meet. One auction consigner with two cars in the auction reported that his cars met their reserve, as did many others, and there were many great deals for buyers. Watch for a more in-depth report by B. Mitchell Carlson in an upcoming issue of Old Cars Weekly.
For now, enjoy this selection of cars from the event!

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Back to the 50's always starts with a double-feature at the Cottage View Drive-In in Cottage Grove, Minn. I grew up in Cottage Grove and have fond memories of the drive-in, so I snapped this pic of my car about to enter the field before the movie. There have been threats that this landmark, the only cool thing in an otherwise soul-less St. Paul suburb, may soon be gone.


Anyone who knows me knows I love Willys vehicles. How often do you get to see a 1939 Willys like this one with a '39 nose, rather than a 1940-'42 nose? Not often.

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Here's another Willys, this time stock. The car is a sport coupe and proves that you can find more than hot rods at Back to the 50's.

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I'm sure a ride in this 1932 Ford three-window coupe feels like a "skyride."


While cruising around the fairgrounds in the back of my uncle's 1961 Ford unibody pickup, I snapped this sweet 1932 Ford truck stocker. I always enjoy seeing this truck, which regularly appears at Minnesota State Fairgrounds events.

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You don't see 1934 Packard Twelve victorias every day. I'm not sure if this one is a stocker, and I haven't got a glimpse under the hood to verify there's still a Twelve under the hood. Either way, it's a great ride.

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This sweet little 1939 Chevy coupe doubtessly has a lot of man hours into its build. The effort was certainly worth the reward.

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A 1940 Ford Standard or a '39 Deluxe with '40 Ford headlamps? I'm not sure, but I do know this: it's one "deluxe" fat-fendered Ford that anyone with taste would love to own.

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This 1939 Plymouth coupe was recently restored by owner Howard Cassidy and one of his friends. (Howard is also a friend of former OCW staffer Keith Mathiowetz.) The machine sure turned out sweet!

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This 1947 Chevrolet sedan delivery is still powered by the big-block Chevy 454 V-8 I helped install as my first engine transplant. That was about 17 years ago...

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This 1956 Chevrolet Sport Coupe has been cruising around my hometown for as long as I have admired it. I've never been able to catch up with the owner to learn its story, but I believe the slick custom began as a Two-Ten model, rather than a more common Bel Air.

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Call it a "puppy in a pound" syndrome, but I'm a sucker for a distressed Cadillac. This solid 1959 Cadillac Coupe deVille has patina in spades, and I know it would look good next to my 1955s and '62...

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Sorry, the photo ain't great, but how often do you get to see a 1960 Edsel station wagon? Note the second '60 Edsel behind it.

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I really dug this Model A coupe with a Deuce grille shell. Just the right look and amount of patina (it doesn't look like you'll get tetanus from just opening the door). Note the car is tastefully chopped and channeled and it sports a flathead - perfect!

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My uncle's longtime friend, Mike Melgard, bought this well-known Track T-style rod several years ago from a popular St. Paul-area hot rodder, then added his own tweaks, such as a Merc flathead in place of the car's 'Yota four-cylinder and a Deuce grille shell. I think it looks better than ever.