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Antique auto club invites region to roll out classic rides

The front plaza of Ralph Engelstad Arena took a trip to the past with the help of local automobile enthusiasts Friday night as a part of the Antique Automobile Club of America's National Fall Meet.

Richard Hansen shows his 1929 Cadillac
Richard Hansen, background right, shows his 1929 Cadillac outside the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks during Friday's opening day of the Antique Automobile Club of America national fall meet in Grand Forks. The event continues today at the Alerus Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The front plaza of Ralph Engelstad Arena took a trip to the past with the help of local automobile enthusiasts Friday night as a part of the Antique Automobile Club of America's National Fall Meet.

Whether it was a Model T or a brand new Mustang, Friday night's auto show welcomed any and all in the Red River Valley to show off their sets of wheels.

Event chairman Howard Swanson said Friday night's show, which was open and free to the public, gave the Grand Forks area a chance to show off the best cars they have to offer.

"You'd be surprised what comes out of people's garages when you give them the chance to show," he said.

Rick Nelson, of East Grand Forks, can attest to that, his 1914 Ford Model T was a popular stop for passersby.


Nelson built much of the body for the Model T town car from scratch beginning in 2007.

Everything from the spokes to the paint job was done by Nelson, something he said is just pure fun.

"I probably did 95 percent of the body myself, and I'm not even a Ford guy," Nelson said. "But these are the cars that kind of got everybody driving, before these, cars were too expensive."

An appreciation

The scent of gasoline and old leather hung heavy around the dozens of newly polished vehicles as car buffs perused the aisles of cars.

Bending their necks to scan interiors and popping the hoods to analyze the cars' engines, spectators got their fill of mint-condition automobiles from every era.

"Events like this really generate a true appreciation of the history of automobiles in this country," Swanson said. "America has driven cars for a very long time, and this is a continuation of society's interest."

A vintage Mini Cooper, a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1976 Ford Thunderbird and a handful of Chevrolet Camaros and Ford Mustangs are a few examples of the event's wide variety of vehicles.


However, Friday night will not be the only night enjoyed by auto enthusiasts this weekend.

Saturday at the Alerus Center, the AACA will be holding their club's auto show, where members from around the country will come to display their cars for a group of 72 judges.

The event is open to the public, and Swanson said the 67 cars on display have been AACA-certified and are all in their original, stock condition.

Cars will be on display from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The AACA has 400 chapters across the U.S, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico and has more than 60,000 members, according to Swanson.

Preserving the past

Prior to Friday night's auto show, members of the AACA gathered at the Myra Museum for the dedication of its historical gas station.

The 1930s-style vintage Mobilgas filling station, which is a reproduction of a similar station in Tower City, N.D., was purchased by the North Dakota AACA chapter in 2012 and transported from Ayr, N.D., to the Myra Museum.


AACA member Dennis Pazderic, who was crucial in raising the money to purchase the gas station, passed the station's key on to John Warcup and Leah Byzewski of the Grand Forks County Historical Society.

"It pleases me to know that the memories of this gas station can now move on for many to enjoy," Warcup said.

Call Ashlock at (701) 780-1137; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1137; or send email to aashlock@gfherald.com .

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