Horsepower, old and new, in Dayton

DAYTON – There was a bit of a mystery car on display Saturday at the third annual Old Engine Day show in downtown Dayton – it was concealed by a well-fitted cloth cover.

The four new tires that could be seen under the bottom turned out to be attached to a 1966 Chevy pickup truck that Kowboy Kustoms, a Dayton car customizing business owned by Nate Stevens, had restored and customized for Denny Grandinetti, of Fort Dodge.

“It was an old survivor truck,” Stevens said.

It had been through with a fine-tuned precision.

“There isn’t a nut or a bolt on it we haven’t touched,” he said.

For Stevens, who opened his shop in Dayton in December, the truck is first complete build. He would like to uncover another one next year, he said.

For Grandinetti, the truck’s owner, Old Engine Day was the end of a wait and the beginning of a whole new driving experience.

“I did not expect it to look this good,” he said, beaming from ear to ear.

He planned on staying awhile and letting people look at his new truck, resisting the urge to take it for a spin around the block.

In addition to more than a dozen cars, Joni and Travis Reiling, of Dayton, brought their family collection of Jeeps to the show.

“The kids have named them,” Travis Reiling said. “There’s Mack, Stanley and Ruby.”

The family owns 30 acres of land in the area that they frequently off-road on. In addition, they’ve made trips to many other areas to enjoy the sport.

“It’s something we can all do together,” he said.

Their vehicles range from almost stock to customized with lift kits, new rims and bigger tires. Some are driven daily; others are used mostly for off-road driving.

The vehicles are very much part of the family.They’ve served as the backdrop for family portraits, senior portraits and vacation pictures.

They all have something special about them too.

“Stanley is the first year of Wranglers with square headlights,” Reiling said.

The show also included about a dozen tractors lined up neatly along the street. Mixed in among the bigger farm tractors was a 1961 Cub Cadet 7-horsepower lawn tractor owned by Tom Skoglund, of Dayton.

He was on hand to attend the show wearing an old International Harvester service technician’s shirt left over from his days working at a defunct IH dealership in Dayton.

He’s only the second owner of the machine.

“I used it and abused it for years,” he said. “When I retired it I thought I might as well fix it up.”

Trey Kahl-Long, of Burnside, was among those who stopped and looked over the new-looking machine.

“I heard my dad talk about Cub Cadets, but I’ve never really seen one,” he said.

He liked the machine.

“It’s cool to see how yard tractors used to be,” he said.

John Skoglund, of Dayton, had his 1964 Ford Fairlane on display at the show.

It’s been with him for awhile.

“It’s my first car,” he said. “I purchased it when I was 16 -I’m 53 now.”

It’s grown on him since he first got it. A Mustang was a little out of his pocketbook’s reach at the time.

“I thought, wow, that thing is ugly,” he joked.

This is no longer the case.

“It’s grown on me,” he said.

In addition to the cars and tractors, visitors could also look over Dayton’s 1923 fire truck. Earl Hanson, equipment officer for the department, said it was the first mechanical pumper Dayton had.

Before then?

“They just used what came out of the hydrants,” he said.

Also available for view was the interior of the former Dayton power plant where a late-1930’s Fairbanks Morse diesel engine sits quietly awaiting restoration.