Classic cars filled downtown Park Rapids Saturday, bringing back happy memories to many who strolled down Main Avenue to check out their favorite rides from years gone by.
Rock-’n’-roll tunes from the 1950s, 60s and 70s transported people back to a time when cars were fast, gas was cheap and the living was easy.
A “car hop” mannequin on roller skates bringing a tray of food from an old-fashioned drive-in to a 1955 Mercury Montclair caught the eye of many passing by.
The Montclair belongs to Kent and Laurie Brothen of Breezy Point and has an interesting story to tell. Kent bought the car in 1955 when he was 15 years old. He purchased it brand new with money he earned working at his family’s resort Anchor Point in Cross Lake with his dad as co-signer.
The car sat in storage until 1995, when Kent bought it back at his father’s estate sale.
After 11 years of reconstructive work, the low-mileage car has now been restored to its former glory. It has its original engine, transmission, glass, chrome, bumper, steering wheel, dash and gauges.
“It took us many years to restore it because he only put in original parts,” Laurie said. “We’ve gone all over the United States looking for a particular part.”
Kent said a story about his cherished car appeared in the May 2019 “Reminisce” magazine. He said the car has been entered in many shows, and the trophy for best convertible from Northern Knights brings the total of trophies to date to 95.
According to the California Highway Patrol, theirs is the only persimmon-colored 1955 Mercury convertible registered in the U.S.
The car was used in his daughter’s wedding and Kent brought to his 50th class reunion in 2008, where it was reunited with the people who rode in it in to their St. Louis Park High School prom.
An original 1923 Model-T Ford roadster body known as “TNT,” with its 1957 Lincoln 368 motor, is owned by Bob Kubista, who lives near Hackensack.
“The car has been in our family since 1960,” he said. “It was started by my dad, and he got all of the pieces together. It was a work in progress from 1960 when it was parts laying on the floor until 1968 when the car was named the International Show Car Association’s national champion. That has now evolved into the World of Wheels/ISCA with car shows all over the country. Two years ago, it was entered into that show at the Viking stadium, where it won three awards.
“I had it to the Toppers Car Show in Fargo last March and it won an award there, too,” he said.
A 1969 red Barracuda Fastback that celebrated its 50th anniversary this year also drew lots of onlookers. Owned by Terry Peterson of Bemidji, it has the distinction of being one of 299 of this model built. It still has its original sheet metal body and 440 Super Commando V8 engine.
The car won the prestigious honor of being chosen as one of the two best Chrysler cars in the U.S. during the Mopars in the Park competition and was part of the show in Detroit Michigan featuring 40,000 cars and 1.5 million spectators.
Northern Knights club member Jeri Thompson said there were 101 registered participants in this year’s show.
“I have worked at the car show heading up registration for eight years now,” she said. “Our members also show their vehicles, but they don’t register, so altogether we had around 125 vehicles on display. We always draw a lot of spectators, and that’s awesome. We had a lot of good comments, as far as ‘wow, nice cars!,’ and comments on having quite a different variety of cars, too. Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves walking around.”
Thompson said the C’Mon Inn sponsors a trophy for the owner of the car driven the farthest distance to attend the show. That award went to the 1937 Chevy Coupe, owned by Mike and Courtney Roberts, that came 240 miles from Red Wing to attend the show.