There are few things in the world quite as invigorating as a road trip. Taking a leisurely trip to a new area is always high on my list of things to do; if the reason for the trip is car related, that is simply icing on the cake.
image source: www.wikipedia.org
After fellow contributor Tom Klockau and I had such a smashing good time at the Loafer’s Car Show in Hannibal, Missouri, in May, we made plans to meet again in Tom’s territory in Monmouth, Illinois, a town of 9,800 souls in the northwestern part of the state. In addition to being the birthplace of Wyatt Earp, Monmouth is also famous for briefly being the childhood home of Ronald Reagan and hosting an enormous car show the first Friday of every August.
Spotting this 1959 Plymouth Fury for sale in the little town of Center was the highlight before my pitstop in Hannibal, a place I lived for five years and roughly the half-way point of my journey. Although this Plymouth is a little frayed inside the cabin, it is complete. It even had the key in the ignition. Venturing past Quincy, Illinois, roughly twenty miles from Hannibal, it was all new territory for your author.
Having grown up in the hilly and tree covered extreme southern tip of Illinois, driving in the central part of the state is always a shock to my system. It is so flat in comparison, with miles and miles of landscape covered in cornfields with a bumper crop of chicory next to the highway. It is truly a reminder of how much ground is needed to feed the planet.
Soon after arriving at our meeting place, Tom pulled up in his white Lincoln Town Car.
Truth is I had heard Tom coming as he had performed quite a spectacular burnout as he took off from the signal across the street.
Even though we met before the official start time for the show, the little town was already abuzz with activity and cars finding a place to park. The epicenter of the show was the town square (shown in the picture above) with all entrants spread out like a spider web from there. The estimate was there were 2,600 cars in attendance.
A warning is in order; due to the tight parking, most of these cars are presented in 3/4 view. So grab a snack and something to drink as we take a look at the highlights from the show. Some of the cars have terrific stories; some are a blank slate for creating stories. It’s quite a ride.
The Mopar contingent was either well represented or I took pictures of every one of them. Either way, this ’55 Dodge was a joy to behold in its purplish cranberry and albino paint scheme. While it wasn’t a La Femme model, it was in the Custom Royal series.
Another Mopar was this ’70 Plymouth Road Runner. This purple plays very well with the shape and style of the car.
The Road Runner graphic that runs nearly the length of the car is one of my favorite decorations on the entire body surface.
While one can likely get a better deal on a ’57 Buick than they can on a ’57 Chevrolet, I’m not sure if $6000 for this crusty-bottomed Buick is a good deal or not. The seller was stating the nailhead V8 was still running but it did need a little attention. Might a new buyer be opening Pandora’s Box?
This 1993 Pontiac Sunbird convertible was the first car in which Tom and I spoke with the owner. She has owned this car for a number of years now, it having been the replacement for another slightly older five-speed Sunbird convertible her grandson wrecked. This Pontiac currently has all of 55,000 miles on it and the owner says the women in her sewing group frequently ask for rides in it. She said it is a keeper for her.
Another red convertible was this Kaiser Darrin.
Only 435 were built for its single year run in 1954. Most were powered by a 90 horsepower six-cylinder engine.
Speaking of small cars from independent manufacturers, there wasn’t just one Crosley convertible…
There were two Crosley convertibles. The window for viewing the engine on this particular Crosley was a very nice touch for the curious ones in the crowd.
This is perhaps one of my favorite nameplates ever.
One class of vehicle I had not anticipated to see at a car show was the customized van. This old Dodge looked like it could tell a few stories.
However, this Ford seems to be having a harder time not spilling its secrets. The tales it could likely divulge might make your hair curl.
Maybe it was the way it was zoned. The interior of this Ford did have a nice scent to it.
Since we are talking Ford light duty trucks, let’s keep the theme going a bit longer. This F-150 almost looks like it just rolled off the assembly line.
I’m guessing this F150 to be an ’80 to ’83 model and it looks spectacular. This example is quite loaded, one of the few “traditional” pickups I’ve seen in a while.
In addition to these two pickups, there were a few cars that could have just rolled off the assembly line. The first is this 1950 Chevrolet.
Don’t let the few minor blemishes on the exterior fool you; this car has only 9,000 miles on the odometer.
Tom and I had a long conversation with the owners. The Chevrolet had originally belonged to an older couple they knew. When the husband died, the wife was suddenly bombarded with obscenely low offers to purchase it. She had really wanted to sell it to the current owners, who were out of town, so she held off the pressure buyers. Upon their return a deal was struck and they still own it 48 years later.
In talking with the owners I learned this car has sat for as long as eight months and will usually start on the first try.
I also learned this Chevrolet finally had the original tires replaced this past spring. The owners decided it was time and their decision was none too soon; the old, original tires started coming apart en route to the tire shop. Thankfully it made it, but not by much. It sounds like they realized the full life from those tires!
That 1950 Chevrolet is a high mileage beater in comparison to this 1984 Oldsmobile Toronado. The absolute sparkle caught my eye while Tom and I carrying on about it caught the owners attention. He came over to me and asked “My wife says I need a pimp outfit when I drive this; what do you think?” After a hearty laugh, we were able to talk more.
A co-worker had purchased the Toronado for his mother. Within a very short period of time, the mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration and gave the car back. The co-worker had no real need for the car and simply parked it in the basement of his newly finished house. After he died a year or so ago, the current owner was able to purchase it from the widow. It’s current mileage? Its odometer turned over 4,500 miles on its way to the show.
While the headliner is sagging a bit, I did ask about the backseat. Yes, the owners grandkids sat there once for about five minutes and that has been the only weight the seat has ever experienced.
My original plan had been to drive my ’63 Ford Galaxie to Monmouth; a hard starting issue due to a bad fuel pump nixed that. Generally when I go to shows, I don’t see any ’63 Fords, and this was a little like rubbing salt in the wound. Not only was there an externally modified Country Squire,
There was the black four-door sedan.
The obligatory two-door hardtop.
And even the low-dollar Ford 300, likely one of about three that didn’t see fleet use. This one was powered by the 221 cubic inch straight six hooked to a two-speed Fordomatic and had camped out in a barn for twenty years. That sounds quite familiar.
Seeing all these siblings to my Ford makes me sorely tempted to drive it to Auburn, Indiana, for the CC Midwest Meetup in October; time well tell.
Ford was by no means the only maker represented with their full-size offerings. Mother Mopar had her stuff out in force and with it being a warm evening, many of them had taken their tops off. Is this a good show or what?
This 1967 Plymouth Fury was advertising itself as having a hemi under the hood, though it obviously could not be verified if one had been transplanted into the engine bay.
A 1967 Fury convertible and a 1968 Fury two-door. Despite their slightly annoyed faces, they seemed pretty happy visiting with each other. When was the last time you saw these two models in the same place at the same time?
The convertible looks great. To get a convertible you had to opt up to either the Fury III or the Sport Fury. Neither were plentiful with 4,523 and 3,133 built respectively.
I wouldn’t kick the two-door out of my garage. It’s amazing how these have become so much more attractive over the years.
This 1965 Chrysler convertible had more natural appeal than anything else nearby.
A 1960 Plymouth Belvedere two-door is a rarely seen critter. While the Pepto-Bismol pink is a little strong, it seems to go rather well with the car. With 6,529 being built, it is one of the more rare 1960 Plymouth models.
Tom and I kept walking. Suddenly, we see a
1960 1957 Plymouth Belvedere convertible. While chromed up under the hood, it looked great.
Many of us don’t want or need a full-size car. Maybe a compact is more your speed, like this 1971 Mercury Comet GT. Powered by a 302 (5.0 liter) V8, I had seen it heading to the show shortly after meeting up with Tom. It sounded as good as it looks.
A sibling to the Comet was the Ford Maverick. This 1971 Maverick made me chuckle.
My paternal grandmother is now 93, and the first car I remember her driving was a ’71 Maverick in the same Grabber Blue as the Comet above. Having been widowed suddenly in 1966, and leaving her in a bad financial situation, she swore she would pay cash for a new car within five years. She did so just past the four year mark. Hers was a very basic model with a six-cylinder and a three speed.
While heading to school one day in third grade, I saw her Maverick parked alongside a gravel county road with the front end smashed in. She had lost control in some loose gravel on her way to work at the school and hit a very large oak tree. My father and uncle performed a backyard repair that involved pulling out the radiator support with a Ford tractor, jumping on the hood to straighten it, and rigging a very stout chain to hold down the hood. She drove it that way for about 18 months as she refused for this repair to interfere with her budget for another car in 1981. I distinctly remember riding with her afterward the repair; as soon as the car hit thirty-five miles per hour the slack in the chain holding the hood was tighten, causing the hood to raise about two inches. I have had a healthy respect for Mavericks ever since.
We have never covered a 1959 Ford here at CC. I do have an Outtake on one to prepare someday, but for now here is a 1959 Ford
Galaxie Fairlane retractable hardtop. These are quite the mechanical marvel for their time, having over one mile of wire and a multitude of hydraulics.
This is one element that is all too common on these. Why, oh why, would a person want to extend an already long car further by placing this mobile park bench on its rear? These Continental kits are literally a cancer on the ass of a car. I simply don’t understand their appeal.
But, thanks to Roger Carr, I have seen ones even more horrific! Please know I’m shaking my head while typing this.
Good sights abounded and by dusk it was getting hard to comprehend it all. We were getting hungry so the last part of the show went quickly. I had never fully thought about the Pinto Squire being about one-third hood.
This GMC cousin to the Chevrolet Suburban is a rig I have never seen in the metal. I remember it having an automatic transmission and a very well kept interior.
This similar vintage GMC pickup reminded me of an article by Alan Heath from some time ago (here).
This Mercury Montego GT has a backside that is a love it or hate it type proposition. What a thoroughly 1970s exterior color. The pie pan / dog dish hubcaps are terrific.
This 1984 Dodge Aries was for sale. The owner was really exercising some age old sales tactics on me, but I need an Aries like I need to be even more near-sighted. Besides, it was getting late and we still hadn’t seen it all.
Hopefully you enjoyed this quick tour around a small town in rural Northwestern Illinios. It’s easy to envision myself going back to Monmouth in 2015.