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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Car club rides into town

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Car enthusiast Dick Snider straightens the flag on his 1959 Ford Skyliner.
SIKESTON -- Scanning the parking lot of the Sikeston Depot, car enthusiast Dick Snider sees something more than a bunch of antique cars.

"Every car here has got a story. There are 19 cars and 19 stories," said Snider of Vincennes, Ind.

For example, Snider's story of how he acquired his porch-red 1959 Ford Skyliner and got into the hobby goes a little something like this: Snider's friend bought a 1959 red and white-topped Skyliner, and in 1962, his friend was killed. The friend's father kept the car over the years, and in 1989, Snider purchased the car and restored it.

"It's a hardtop convertible, which means the hardtop retracts into the trunk," Snider explained about his car. "In a three-year period -- in 1957, 1958 and 1959, only about 50,000 (Skyliners) were made."

Over the past 15 years, Snider and his wife, Marjorie, have put 104,000 miles on the automobile. The Sniders have driven in 42 states, from coast to coast and from Canada to Mexico -- in the Skyliner and other cars, he said.

Snider and approximately 20 other car enthusiasts and their spouses are in Sikeston this week as part of the Indianapolis, Ind.-based Historic Auto Club's monthly tour. On Monday, the group made a stop at the Sikeston Depot.

"It's just a fun group of people," Snider said about the club's members.

Throughout the course of the week, the group, which is lodging in Sikeston, will travel daily on an approximate 220-mile trips, to places like Jackson, Tenn.; Jackson, Mo.; Paducah, Ky.; and New Madrid before they head home Saturday to Indiana.

"All we need is a crooked road with a restaurant at the end," said Bob Fox, group leader, who brought his white 1965 Buick Skylark on the tour this time.

Most of the Historic Auto Club's members are from central Indiana, Fox said. About once or twice a month a pack of 15 or 20 will venture out for a week-long trip, he said.

"We don't care what you drive -- as long is its 25 years or older," Fox said.

And the club doesn't run fast, Fox noted, adding they travel about 55 miles per hour on two-lane roads.

"It's fun to drive. It's pretty laid back and on all two-lane roads," Fox said. "And one of the things with 20 cars is if you're at a four-way stop, the guys in the back can get separated."

In addition to a slower speed, CBs come in handy in case they lose each other, Fox noted.

Strolling around the Depot parking lot, Fox noted the 1937 Buick Century and a 1950 Studebaker.

"And over there is a 1953 Hudson," said Fox as he pointed to 6-cylinder maroon Hudson Hornet.

"In 1953, the dominant car in NASCAR was the Hudson because it had the Twin-H Power. It was the hot rod of the day," Fox said.

The car's lower center of gravity, created by the "step-down design," and two carburetors are what gives it its power, Fox explained.

"I was just looking for a hobby," said the Hornet's owner Lew Trent about how he first got involved with car restoration.

When Trent went from working 16-hour days as a building contractor to working eight-hour days for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, he needed something to do to fill all of his extra time, he said.

"So I started restoring cars. When I was a building contractor, I had a truck I basically lived in everyday," Trent recalled. "After I retired, 12 or 13 years ago, I thought it'd be fun to have an old pickup like I used to have."

The 82-year-old's wife also travels with him, and she loves it, Trent said.

"What she likes about the hobby is the people," said Trent about his wife.

In addition to the 1955 Chevy pickup, Trent has restored several cars over the years including a 1951 Packard Patrician and a 1955 Thunderbird.

Most enthusiasts own more than one car, Snider pointed out.

Snider owns a 1957, 1958 and 1959 Ford Skyliner; a 1954 corvette; a 1965 Plymouth convertible; and a 1947 Lincoln convertible.

Generally, it isn't too difficult finding replacement parts for the cars, Trent noted. Some car dealers purchased old inventory and others took cars into their body shops, he said.

But Trent carries a little roster of all Hudson owners so if he does have a problem, he can refer to his roster to see if there's a Hudson owner nearby.

Whether traveling from town to town or teasing one another on their CBs, the car enthusiasts admit they always have a good time.

"We don't ever have cars be judged," Trent said. "Trophies won't buy a meal."

Fox agreed.

"We don't do car shows -- It's not fun," Fox said. "We'd rather go out and drive. Rarely do we just go and sit somewhere."

And that's the purpose of having the cars -- to enjoy them, Fox said, then added his own analogy about the subject: "It's like marrying a great woman and then never making love to her."