Cars on display on Main Street

POCAHONTAS – Even back in 1964, when the Dodge Polara owned by Mike and Lana Pratt, of Rolfe, was brand spanking new, it wasn’t a commonly seen automobile.

Now, 50 years later, it’s even less so; even at the Mopar Nationals, a car show dedicated to Mopar products with 2,500 cars, it’s unusual.

“There were only four 64 Polaras there,” Mike Pratt said. “This was the only one with the four-speed.”

They’ve owned the car for four years. It was found near Beresford, South Dakota.

“We stumbled on it by accident,” he said.

How accidental, it was only visible from the road because the previous owner had moved it out of a shed to make way for a new grain wagon. It was slated to go back into that shed a few days later.

They happened to drive by at the right time to notice.

“He started grabbing his chest and pointing,” Lana Pratt said. “I thought he was having a heart attack.”

The lucky encounter led to an hour of negotiations, the writing of a check and the end of a long quest.

“I had one when I was 17,” Mike Pratt said. “I had it two years and never saw another one, I gave up looking for one 15 years ago.”

With that rare of a vehicle, sometimes finding parts – particularly body and trim pieces – can become a hunt onto itself. Pratt was lucky with his Polara.

“I was fortunate,” he said. “It had all of its trim, it was all in the trunk.”

Getting it ready and completed has been a long process.

“It took 3 1/2 years to restore,” he said, “We just got it done this spring.”

While Pratt has a vintage drive-up food tray displayed on one window of his car and a drive-in movie speaker on the other, Darrell Nicol, of Laurens, has a stuffed animal Road Runner that’s posed to look like it just let his 2010 Dodge Challenger down on top of who else, the Coyote.

“I’ve had them for 20 years,” Nicol said. “I always planned on doing this at car shows.”

The setup is a tribute to the car that every car buff seems to have, the one that got away.

“I had a 1970 Road Runner in high school,” he said. “I always wanted another one.”

Nicol’s 2010 Dodge Challenger has been modified to look like another automotive icon, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird which is noted for a having a large spoiler on the trunk.

He’s invested about $55,000 in creating the vehicle in his own body shop. He began the project after heart surgery.

“I decided I’m going to have a nice car,” he said. “No matter the cost.”

Of course, a nice car needs a nice custom license plate – it reads IOWALOT.

Kathy Merrill, of Emmetsburg, was busy taking in the more than 100 cars that were driven to the show.

“I can’t believe so many have this many cars fixed up.” she said.

Merrill attended the show with husband, Craig Merrill and their son, Brian Merrill.

They arrived in a recently restored 1970 302 Boss Mustang – one of the special editions of the car sought after by collectors .

“I had the car since I was a kid,” Craig Merrill said. “It was either fix it up or get rid of it.”

Driving the car, is almost and all of the family affair.

Brian Merrill, himself the owner of 2003 Mustang, drove it to the show.

“I like it a lot,” he said.

Kathy Merrill however, did not, and won’t be for awhile.

“I can’t drive it,” she said, a bit mournfully. “I’ve never been able to drive a manual.”

She wants to though.

“I just need some lessons,” she said.