American Romance
August 2nd, 2012 by Ruralite

Americans love their cars, so it came as no surprise when we were deluged by readers’ photos and the stories behind the vehicles

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1941 Dodge

“This pickup has been in the Mortenson family since 1941, when Grandpa sold his hogs and bought it for $900,” says owner Paul Mortenson of Philomath, Oregon. “It was used heavily on the family farm at Mosier, Oregon, until 1969, when Grandpa died. Then it was passed down to my dad. He kept it on the farm, but retired it in the early 1970s. Dad gave it to me in 1997, and for years it sat in my barn until I finally started the restoration process. There are still many things to do on this graceful old rig, but for now I am content to take her for an occasional drive and enjoy the sound of the dual pipes.”

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1973 Volkswagen

Heads turn everywhere this VW van goes, according to owners Ken and Sally Stephens of Rupert, Idaho. It is very colorful, inside and out. “Our grandkids call it the Rainbow Van,” says Sally. “And I guess they’re right.” They take the van on camping trips across the West; this picture was taken at Death Valley, California.

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1951 Mercury

John Perry of Pendleton, Oregon, is the original owner of this car. He bought it right out of high school. “Five generations have ridden in it—soon six,” says John. It has only 52,000 miles on it, and the last time it was repainted was in 1982. John installed new tires at the same time.

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1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

This classic Chevy is the “essence of nostalgia,” according to owners Jerry and Linda Bolf of Redmond, Oregon. Not only is the Bel Air the car most people think of when they think of the 1950s, but also because this particular one is accessorized with other iconic products of the era, such as Blackjack and Beaman’s chewing gum, Betty Boop floormats, ’50s music, bongo drums, roller-skating car hop doll and red-and-white dice dangling from the rearview mirror.

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1965 Ford Mustang

This car has been a labor of love—and hard work—for owners Barb and Barry Neiwert of Hailey, Idaho. What started as an eBay gamble resulted three years later in this beautiful, totally restored Mustang. “The amount of sweat, tears, spit and polish that went into this project is unbelievable,” says Barb. “But now we have a cool car that we take joy driving during the summer months in our Idaho mountains.”

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1971 Buick GS

This car is only one of 656 of this model ever produced. Better yet, it is a one-owner car. “I bought it new on October 7, 1971,” says Dan Lucas of Lake Oswego, Oregon. “I still have the canceled check.” Dan was only 25 at the time. He has kept it in his garage ever since.

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1937 Ford DeLuxe Club Coupe

Fewer than 17,000 Club Coupes were built in 1937. Even more rare is this 1937 Club Coupe owned by John and Sherien Jaeger of Portland, Oregon. It has several rare accessories, such as a chrome-plated greyhound hood ornament, a 6-volt radio and fog lights with the year, 1937, embossed into the metal housings.

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1961 Chevrolet Impala

Not only is this Impala a cool car, but it is very special to owners Jim and Judy Davis of Ravendale, California, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in it last year. “We traveled with 75 other classic cars on the Nevada-Rides Tour, traveling more than 2,000 miles through five states: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Oregon,” says Judy. “All of the towns we stopped at made us feel welcome, and hosted barbecues and car shows.”

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1956 Chevrolet Townsman

This car is an Eastern Oregon native. The original owner was a Fuller Brush dealer in Grant County and often was seen making deliveries in her 1956 wagon. Second owners Dave and Lana Abarr of John Day, Oregon, bought the car in 1996. During its restoration, the Abarrs tried to keep things as original as possible, including the laurel green and crocus yellow two-tone paint job.

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1974 Chevrolet Vega

Sissy Mills of Burns, Oregon, bought her Vega when she graduated from college. “I’ve hung onto it all of these years without a moment’s regret,” she says. “Whatever it lacks in the looks department, it compensates with an abundance of heart and soul.”

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1957 International Harvester

Jaynee Germond of Roseburg, Oregon, always liked pickup trucks when she was growing up. She has many fond memories of riding in her grandfather’s 1949 International pickup. “When my husband found this ’57 International Harvester—which happens to be my birth year—I couldn’t resist! It runs and drives great, and it’s a lot of fun to own.”