A Driving Passion at the Northwest Street Rod Nationals Plus

Despite classic profiles, these cars are for the road, not collectors' showrooms

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter


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RIDGEFIELD — Thanks to a couple of candy-coating color schemes, Ed Fry and Dean Eversaul have earned a collective title when they’re behind the wheels of their street rods.

“They call us the ‘M&M Boys,'” Eversaul said. “If you see one, you’ll probably see the other.”

That was the case at the Northwest Street Rod Nationals Plus, which drew 1,304 eye-catching collectible cars and trucks to the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds.

Eversaul’s entry was a 1939 Chevrolet Master 85 painted in a color called pure orange.

Fry was there with his spring green 1934 Oldsmobile.

As if their combo nickname wasn’t enough, Fry once came up with a first name for his Oldsmobile.

“We used to call it ‘Walter,'” Fry said.

It was a nod to Walt Disney.

The Californian who sold him the five-passenger coupe — back when it was painted basic black — told Fry that it had been used in the filming of the 1996 live-action version of Disney’s classic “101 Dalmatians.”

Fry said he plans to rent the video and look for his car.

Eversaul and Fry were among a dozen or so members of Clark County’s So Lo Car Club at the national event, which was making its debut at the Fairgrounds. While some local car owners had to do little more than cross the street, a few street-rodders crossed the country.

Driving is the point

Jesse Burrows of Wake Forest, N.C., won an award for driving the farthest: 2,940 miles in a 1935 Chevrolet. And yes, he drove the Chevy all the way.

Driving your car is the whole point of street-rodding, said Jim Rowlett, spokesman for the National Street Rod Association.

“If all I wanted to do is look at it, I’d put a picture on the wall,” said Rowlett, who drove to Ridgefield in a 1937 Ford sedan.

Street rods must be at least 30 years old, said Tom Wilkerson, the association’s national field director. It used to be limited to pre-1949 cars, but they decided to establish 30 years as the standard, so every year, another edition of cars gets in.

While some of the bodywork on display was more than 80 years old, the cars have been updated with newer engines, transmissions, front ends … well, you get the idea — as well as creature comforts like cruise control and air conditioning.

After he bought his 1934 Olds, Fry said, “I’d be going 40 mph and it was all over the road.”

Then he did some work on it. The reaction from classic-car enthusiasts?

“You ruined it!” is what they told Fry. “You street-rodded it!”

It all comes down to how you want to enjoy your car, Fry said: “It depends on if you want to drive it in a parade or on the street.”

“You decide if you want to drive it or show it,” agreed Sonny Stratton. He and Carol Ann Wilson drove his cherry-red 1955 Chevy Bel Air here from Colorado. They made the three-day trip in a group with several other classic Chevrolets.

The event drew plenty of fans, including the Young family of Battle Ground. Bret Young said he’s a fan of 1960s muscle cars, but “I do love seeing all those ’30s and ’40s hot rods as well.

“I have an appreciation for the craft,” Young said. “I’ve done restoring myself, and I know the time, effort and money it takes.”

His wife, Andrea, took that opportunity to introduce the other member of the family: their 2-year-old son, Race.

“He’s our ’67 Nova,” she said. “We sold it when we found out I was pregnant.”

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://twitter.com/col_history; tom.vogt@columbian.com

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