Cars shine at Railroad Days

August 22, 2004|EMILY BURTON

JUNCTION CITY - Ice cream parlors or speakeasies, then to church on Sunday, these were the cars that took you there. Flashing chrome smiles on Saturday, despite the dank weather, the Junction City Railroad Days Car Show entries brought to life every era, from "The Untouchables," through "Bullitt" and even touching on "The Fast and the Furious."

They were classic cars babied like Detroit-crafted children. But what throws a car from common workhorse to beloved classic?

Flung down the road by Ford's first V-8 engine, it was easy to see the 1932 Ford Deluxe was going to be a keeper. Cherry pearl red, with a wooden steering wheel, "It's just a rare car. It's a '32, and you just don't see many of these," said owner Melvin Bernard of Versailles. "I turned down 80 acres of land (offered) for it. It's got two barns, a silo and a pond, but then I wouldn't have no car to drive."


Beside Bernard's Ford sat a cool blue 1950 Ford Custom, or 'gangster car' to the grandkids. The "Cool 5" welcomed the refined into sedan luxury at a time when the world saw the start of the Korean War. Norman and June Roberts bought it upon retirement.

"I retired, and bought it for my grandson, and he can't drive it for five more years!" said Norman, of Stanford. This is a classic, said grandson Brent Norman as he sat in the deep trunk, "cause it's old and unique."

"A classic car is older than you, but it's not older than me," Grandpa replied.

At the parking lot's end, an inferno red 1965 Mustang was gathering a crowd. The completely new engine chrome, hose covers and a wax job created a dazzling effect.

"It's the way it looks, how clean it is, how straight it is," that defines a classic car, said co-owner Peggy Richey, of Stanford. She and her husband Gary had bought their steel baby to enjoy together, though Gary had to learn how to restore it on his own.

"I went down to the garage one day, and the motor was out, completely out and I said, 'Oh my God, how are you ever going to get this all back in?'" Peggy said.

J.R. Westerfield paused, hands pocketed, to admire the inferno red gleam. It was a classic because, "It's got an excellent paint job, and everything seems to be in order," he explained.

The judges seemed to agree as they watched their reflections caress the beckoning Mustang.

"This is a candidate for best in show in my book. This is gorgeous," said judge Bill Phelps, regional manager of Advance Auto Parts. "This is one of those cars that reach out and grab you when you walk by."

But what delighted aficionados of authenticity was the original 1965 interior, still intact and gleaming.

"I like to see those old ones restored to original," Prid More said as he surveyed the lot. "I like to see them put back to original shape. To us old people, they're not classics, they're just memories."

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