FAIRFIELD – Collector Cars Unlimited held its annual car show Sunday in downtown Fairfield.
The day was picture-perfect for a car show, which attracted classic automobiles from near and far.
Rick Van Winkle of Mt. Pleasant came to the show to display his 1951 Ford Custom. The car actually belongs to his son, James Van Winkle of Washington, but James lets his dad take it to car shows, where Rick delights in recounting the car’s unlikely history as a restoration project.
Rick’s grandmother bought the car new when Rick was 16, but his grandmother lost her sight, and with it, her license. Rick was the oldest son of his grandmother’s oldest boy, so he inherited the car soon after the purchase. It was a reliable automobile for Rick during his high school and college years.
But after college, Rick no longer had a use for the car, and it sat in a pasture for 45 years. One day, Rick discovered that two sons were pasture cruising in the car, which by this time had no brakes in it. He decided the car might be worth salvaging. He took the car to town to get newly rebuilt brakes, but first he had to clean it of nearly five decades of debris which included 13 snake skins, a dead mouse and a bumblebee nest.
It was a rusty old car, and Rick didn’t end up using it, letting it sit for 10 years until his son James moved it into a barn he owned. It sat in the barn for another 10 years before James decided he wanted to fix it up.
Rick said revamping the car was a “total frame-off restoration,” and that they took everything down to the nuts and bolts. The car was fully restored three years ago and outfitted with a 350-cubic inch Chevrolet engine, air conditioning, power brakes and many more modern conveniences.
“We made a day-driver out of it,” Rick said. “It drives like a new car. It’s got everything a new car’s got.”
Mt. Pleasant resident Rick Stauffer brought his 1932 Ford Roadster to the show. He bought the components for the car and began building it in April 2019, finishing in June of this year. He said it was nice to attend a car show, which have been few and far between this year. He said most shows early in the year were canceled due to the pandemic, but within the last six weeks, more and more car clubs have been willing to host shows.
Stauffer said he goes to shows in nearly every border state such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois and Missouri.
Stauffer said some parts of the car were harder to build than others, and remarked that the front suspension was particularly tricky.
“It took me a little time to get it right,” he said.
Stauffer said the car has a modern transmission on it, and its engine can go up to 85-90 miles per hour.
Jarret Meade made the trip from the little town of Windham in Johnson County to show his 1969 Oldsmobile. Meade said he got the car six or seven years ago, and that he didn’t have to do too much to it other than replace the suspension and paint it.
“I’ve kept it as original as I can,” he said.
He said the car drives just like a modern car with cruise control and everything else. The only thing that’s antiquated about this muscle car is the gas mileage.
“I get about 10 miles to the gallon,” Meade said.