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Car lovers rev their engines

Sat., Aug. 20, 2005

About 1,800 vintage automobiles are expected to roll through this weekend’s fourth annual Good Guys Great Northwest Nationals Car Show, and every one of them has a story.

“It brings back a lot of nostalgia,” said Fred Beckemeier, sitting under a pair of umbrellas with his wife Marion behind their blue 1949 Chevy Styleline Friday at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center.

Their first new car as a married couple in Otis Orchards was the same make and model. He said he remembers driving down Riverside Avenue and hearing the growl of engines echoing off the walls of buildings and racing other cars back in the heyday of cruising in the 1950s.

The first Chevy lasted a good 10 years, Beckemeier said, but they were “too poor to buy another one then.”

Four years ago, they got a second chance, and they’ve been taking their spotless ride to the Spokane car show ever since.

“I like to see all the different varieties, beautiful colors,” Fred Beckemeier said. “All the new cars all look the same.”

Massive fenders, big steering wheels and tail fins lined the rows of cars sitting in the sun, with model years spanning from the 1920s into the early 1970s.

The 45,000 expected attendees can find a bit of everything at the show, from 1930s-vintage hot rods, to muscle cars, to Corvettes from the 1950s with six-figure price tags.

“Last year we had a great attendance,” said event director Betsy Bennett. Good Guys Rod and Custom Association – a California-based hot-rodding group that puts on shows across the country – has organized the event for the last four years with help from The Dukes Auto Club of Spokane.

“It’s a small show, but it’s a nice show … the people seem to be real nice around here,” said Dave Hougham of Daytona Beach, Fla.

He’s driven his 1937 Ford through four national parks and three car shows since heading out on the back roads Aug. 2 with two friends driving cars of the same vintage.

“It’s one of those things I’ve always wanted to do,” he said of the trip, which took two years to plan.

Hougham said he first got the idea for a cross-country, back-road cruise when driving down the Redwood Highway in California and thinking, “one day I want to run this in a street rod.”

“You get to meet a lot of people and talk car talk,” Don Love said of car shows in general. Older guys tell him about the cars they had decades ago, reminded by his turquoise 1958 Chevy Impala, he said.

For him, the car brings back memories of a 1958 convertible he had as a junior at Eastern Washington University.

“People, whenever they see a car, they get excited,” Love said. And then, he said, the stories always start coming: “Well I remember back when … .”


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