Get to know your classic car community! Here are some area car and truck enthusiasts' pride and joy. To submit your vehicle, please email your contact information, vehicle description/story, and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Hard Top
WOW! That about says it all when it comes to a car like this. I would like to list just a few amenities this dream car has. 1980 Firebird rear end, 502 CI big block w/ dual Four barrel carbs, Center Line Wheels Conve/Pro. Ken Wood Sound, four wheel disc brakes, Ididit steering wheel, Dakota Digital Dash, Air Tique Air, Full Power.
This became the "crown jewel" of GM when it produced 166,426 of the Bel Air Hard Tops. The production engine off the assembly line made one horsepower for each cubic inch of displacement. Their 1.5 million cars produced in '57. Ford was behind the eight ball playing 'catch up.' One of the main reasons car collectors love these cars is it reflects the wonderful life style we all enjoyed in the 50s. With a price tag of just $2299 or to put it another way it sold for $1.46 per pound. The cost today may well be over $50,000.
1961 Corvette " A true survivor"
From the factory paint "Jewel Blue" down to the original hub caps on the wheels. The production engine which is a 283 cid with 230 brake horsepower couplied with a powerglide transmission. This would be a "first" generation Corvette, this being the last year for the external trunk and the solid rear axel. This was not a state of the art design, also it was not characteristic of this time period but it gave the feel on the road that later Corvettes would not have. The sports car feeling was enhanced when GM gave it the label "elbow out the window." Aluminum was a major change in production when it came with an all aluminum radiator and the housing for the transmission. Contrasting color would not show up on the indent of the doors for the 1962 Corvettes. The rear end was an advanced design and would not appear again till the 1963 String Ray Corvette's would start production. With only 10,939 produced and a price tag of just $3,934 who could ask for more.
1936 Buick Sedan
This was the first year as a full size car. A 40's series as it was referred to in the past will now be known as the "Special." The wheel base on the '36 was 118 inches only to increase to 122 inch the next year.
This Buick made the neighbors shudder with the thought of this rusty old car in a driveway around their new homes. Restoration took a long seven years to complete. There was just one way to do a car like this, a frame off. Different professionals were to get to know this car very well. It is a Montana car, however most of the work was completed in Seattle. The 350 cid engine and 350 automatic transmission are from a Nova. Production records are hard to come by 80 years later.
1993 Mercedes-Benz 600SL
This 2 Door Roadster sold new for a whopping $119,500. It was considered to be the best built car at the time, for instance an electronically controlled hidden roll-over-bar that would pop up if the car started to roll. This car has two tops, remove the hard top and you then have a convertible top that can be used. The "sun chaser" will leave the hard top in storage and just use the soft top. The engine is a 7.0 L. which develops 496 brake horse power with a V-12 that completely fills the engine compartment. This is a true sports car and it rides like one. The number of features was considered very high with everything being electric. This car is considered to be very rare as only 150 "Limited Editions" were ever built, the top speed for this car is 185 mph. A family car it is not, only 2 can get in it.
1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1
We sacrifice many things in our lives when we take the first step toward owning a business. This was the situation when Ron & Linda sold their beloved Mustang Mach 1 in 1985. It had been in their family for 15 years. They needed the investment capital and this would provide it. They sold it to their nephew knowing he would take care of it as they had.
A few years later, when the business was up and running, they decided to buy it back. Their nephew couldn't bear to part with her. This left Ron & Linda with a problem ... they still wanted a Mach 1. They turned to the Internet. After some time they were discouraged. Nothing was there that could hold a candle to their Mach 1. In an ironic twist of fate, they found a car on an Internet auction while they were on a vacation. They won the bid, but couldn't get the funds to the seller in time, so the bid passed to the next person. the next car Ron found was also at an auction. In another twist of fate, the seller was the same man who got the earlier car Ron & Linda couldn't fund in time. They had their doubts about the Calypso color, which was only used in '69 & '70 and only on a few cars. They replaced all the aftermarket parts with OEM parts. The one renaming issue was the Mustang emblem that was installed backwards behind the back window. They opted for a rotisserie restoration in the near future so it may compete with the best at car shows. There were 72,558 Mach 1s produced in '69. They retailed for $3,139.00 or about $1.01 per pound.
Ron & Linda Kesler Laurel, Montana
1957 Chevrolet 2 door post
This is another of the Classic "Randash" cars of Billings, Montana. The '57 Chevrolet had its debut in September of 1956. It was a major make over from the former body style and proved to be a true classic with the test of time. This car would be considered a mild custom, It now has real leather interior, custom designed console, a Morrison frame, which makes it handle like a sports car. A Morrison frame can cost about $22,000 and up. The hood has been shaved, Bel Air chrome has been added. Custom wheels with all disc brakes on all four added to this cars safety. Ed Cole was the chief engineer and instituted most all major changes the '57 would have. The '57 was refered to by GM as the baby Cadillac due to the many styling lines that were similar. A padded dash was optional yet very seldom ever ordered as was the air conditioner. The radios were still the tube type and came with the option of a rear speaker for surround sound. One of the unique options was the electronic shaver, connected to the dash. Another option was the power seats and windows. If you wanted to dim your headlights automatically there was an item that you would bolt to the dash to do that. Of all the popular classics the '57 Chevrolet is considered one of the best.
Mercury, a car that captured a market that was a step up from the Ford, yet not in the richer class of the Lincoln. This car had quality that was unsurpassed for the working man with styling that would be lasting. The counterpart in the GM field would have been the Buick and the Oldsmobile. Chrysler and the DeSoto on the other side. In the production certain parts were shared with Ford but not Lincoln. The last production of the Mercury was in 2010, why many of us did not understand, it had style and durability. This car had a large market, United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands along with the Middle East. Problems started when the recession of the late 1950s started and the unibody construction proved to be to costly to make. Another problem came about with the Edsel having pricing the same as the Mercury. This car sold for about $2,630 or about $ .67 per pound.
1930 Willys Knight
Rare, yes but what a car it is from our past. This automobile was hand made back in the '30s. This is considered a 100 point car, to get this rating there cannot be a mark on the car, every bolt, screw and trim must be perfect. A phillip's screw would not be allowed because they did not make them back then. This car has taken many of the nation's top awards at the major shows for the best-of-the-best. The engine is an 87 bhp 255 cubic inch in-line Knight sleeve valve 6 cylinder. It has a 3-speed transmission with synchromesh, four wheel mechanical brakes, front and rear leaf springs with Watson Stabilators. The wheel base is long at 120 inches. To the best of our knowledge only 8 of these cars exist. The value could be over a million dollars.
In the 30s you had to be very well-to-do if you owned a car like this. When this car was introduced in New York a top designer placed his touch on it with the stripes on the doors calling it a "Plaidside" and the name stuck. These cars became well known to the very rich many years ago and to this day you would be very lucky to find one in any condition.
1956 Buick Century 4 door hardtop
For the true car collector, the 1956 Buick has proven to be one of the most elusive of all makes. It may be the production numbers or the demand for these cars, who knows. Buick fine-tuned the styling of the '56 to make it one of the greatest body styles of all times. The addition of a new grill and a pointed hood with open rear wheel wells was what it needed. It had a price tag of around $3,000 and production numbers of just 20,891. Sporting a 255 bhp Iron head engine it would power this Buick Century from 0-60 in 10.5 seconds. The author of this article has had 28 Buick's to this date and knows these cars very well.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS 6
The dream of most every man and women, a classic Chevelle of the 70s. During the 50s, 60s, and 70s some of the greatest cars were designed by Detroit by such talent as David North "GTO" and Bruce Ryniker "Roadrunner." Both of these men are now retired and living in Billings, Montana. Chevrolet became consistent leader in the industry with over 2 million cars per year. The '70 Chevelle came with a 396 cid and packed a whopping 350 bhp. The racing stripes let everyone know to get out of its way. For a very short period of time the Chevelle could be ordered with swivel seats. Chevrolet spent large amounts of money promoting the Chevelle as a family sports car, and the sales just went thru the roof. Even though this car sold for about $2710 back in 1970 finding one today in excellent condition you will have to add another $50,000 on top of that price.
1968 Dodge GTS
many changes have occurred over the years to this Classic Dart. It now has a 440 cid large block equipped with a Holley Dominator 1050 Carburetor. The transmission is a 727 with a 8 3/4 rear end which makes for a very fast car.
In 1968 the Dodge Dart "4th generation" underwent a facelift and became one of the best looking cars of its day. Low and long with larger windows, fuselages were also rounded and featured hidden headlights and a semi-fastback "flying buttress" roof line. The parking lights were moved inward and made round with side marker lights added. Mileage and performance were compermized on all cars produced due to the "Clean Air Package" which was a federal law.
1947 Willys Jeep CJ-2A
The CJ-2A was the first jeeps produced after World War II. With the end of the war they were in much demand on the farms and ranches. During the war production was halted on all tractors as the steel used went to make tanks & trucks. The Jeep underwent a few changes back to the civilian market. Large headlights were added, leaf springs went from 11 to 7 leafs for an easier ride and a tail gate was added with the spare moved to the side. This Jeep remains elegantly simple and still very appealing 68 years later. Osha would have a fit back then if they only knew about the safety risks, We sat on the gas tank, a gas heater was used on top of it to keep us warm. The passenger seat was $8.50 and the rear seat was $10.50. The Military tires used have a great background, with the center ridge they lacked traction as the tread design was made so the enemy could not tell which direction they were going. Brackets on the side were to hold a shovel and a axe. It came with options of about 14 types of farm machinery. A top was optional, a tall man had a problem as the seat would not adjust. The price tag was abut $1200 dollars. Speed, don't worry as it was only about 45 mph top. This Jeep has been featured in two separate editions of "The Story Of Jeep" & "The Standard Catalog of Jeep" as well as the coffee table book "Classic Cars of Montana & Wyoming."
1957 GMC "General Motors Corporation" 4X4
When this truck was found it could have been considered a rust bucket. Only a true lover of the "classics" would take on a project as large as this requiring a total frame off restoration. This truck was considered the work horse of the GMC fleet. Many of the buyers were farmers, loggers, contractors and those who needed a truck that would hold up in all kinds of weather. The truck you are looking at is not your stock factory unit. This one has a 350 cid making 368 bhp adding a 350 turbo automatic transmission. Owning a true classic means "making it your own." A little known fact, the early GMC's were one gauge heavier sheet metal than the Chevrolet. The major body design occurred in 1955 which also included the GMC Suburban. It had the comfort of a car with an option of air conditioning. The front fenders gave a flow-through design, a wrap-around windshield and full flush pickup boxes. For the collector they are still out there for a price, One can be restored in most cases for around $30,000.
1939 Plymouth Convertible
Plymouth came by its name in a very unusual manner. When Chrysler was deciding on a name the greatest fear was could anyone relate to it. Walter Chrysler was reminded of an item that every farmer was familiar with - "Plymouth" bailing twine. It was a household name. The name originated from none other than Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. The first Plymouth was produced in 1928 and was a success from the start. By 1930 they were allowed to sell them though both Dodge and DeSoto dealers. They never did outsell Ford or Chevrolet, they however did become a part of the top three cars of its day due to its advanced styling and safety features. They were producing an all-steel body when the standard was still using wood for framing. Plymouth was using rubber engine mounts along with rubber body mounts before their competition. They were also the first to install independent front coil suspension. The trunk would fold out to seat 2 adults, These were always referred to as the "Mother-in Law" seat.
1930 Chevrolet Deluxe Panel Delivery Van
This 1930 Chevrolet was found buried in a ditch where it was placed to prevent erosion from heavy rain. It was located near the small town of Roberts, Montana. Like many abandoned trucks there was only enough left of it to determine what kind of a vehicle it was. In this case the name on the partial box was the only clue they had. I complete frame restoration was needed as only original parts would be used in the processed. It has the engine and three speed transmission it came with. The body was built using yellow oak shipped in from China. The Chevrolet wheels with the wheel well were stock on this truck. New this truck would have sold for about $495 and yes it came only in black.
1930 Ford Phaeton
This vehicle, known as the "Hulk," is a testament to the man who created it. This car has been transformed in ways very few of us could ever imagine. When you open the driver's door, you see black carpet trimed in lime green, which is the theme throughout the interior. The dash is custom made of black walnut wood with a natural burl pattern. The Babbet instruments are all customized and set into this beautiful wood. The Hulk is all chrome from the steering wheel to the complete undercarriage. This car has a TCI Racing chassis, a 1969 Jaguar XKE rear suspension and is equipped with a 1932 front dropped axle. The engine is a small block Chevy with unique spark plug wires, which allow you to be able to follow the spark from the distributor to the plugs. Travel at highway speeds is made easier with its 700R4 overdrive transmission.This paint job if done today would cost well over $30,000. Credits for this paint job goes to Cal-Concepts of Bakersfield, California. The lightening bolts and blistering ghost flames add an artistic flair to this unique car.
Ford termed this as an "Elegant town car appearance." This was a 5th generation series produced by Ford. This body style caused sales to decline as it did in the previous year. What they really did was to try and make a family sedan out of a proven sports car. Corvette stayed the course and look where they are today. The Landau sedan was not on the list as a practical design with its rear hinged back doors. This was a throwback to the 1930s. Production revisions for the 71' were minor with wheel covers, grill insert and minor trim only. Big block V-8's were the norm however the engines were not tuned to be a powerhouse. Thunderbird no longer had a performance image to keep it afloat. This was a 429 cid which had 360 bhp, when tuned to perfection it became a monster to deal with. Production of 36,000 was considered low by automobile standards for a car like this. Priced at $2500 below the Lincoln helped but what hurt the most was the new restrictive emissions. Performance suffered in all makes, not just Ford. With 11 to 12 mpg and a low acceleration speed of 12 seconds from 0-60 mph. Overall the quality of this car would be considered very good being quiet with great road ability.
1948 Chevy Loadmaster Truck Cab All Chevy
3/4 ton Chevy van chassis, 1994 Chevy pickup box over original 48" 2 ton truck frame.
1936 Chevy sedan rear fenders, Color-1950s GM Coral w/Pearl Clear.
Custom interior, Air bags, Rear air shocks, tilt steering w/custom interior.
1966 Pontiac GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato)
General Motors launched this high performance family car in 1964 by chief designer David North, now retired and living in Billings, Montana. This car was to provide the excitement we needed in the '60s at a time when our boys and girls were returning from a very unpopular war. The 60s proved to be the start of the true muscle cars. The cost of a car was a big factor, about $.87 per pound compared to $10.78 today. For our returning men and women from overseas it was a car that they could afford. If you wanted a GTO equipped the way you wanted it, no problem. You could add the following to your basic car: floor shifter, 389 cid V-8, quick steering, stiff shocks, dual exhaust and premium tires all for about $300. A 4 speed gear box $188, Metallic brake lining, heavy-duty radiator and a no-slip rear end $75. Some people referred the Ferrari to the GTO, the Ferrari cost $20,000 and the Pontiac GTO $3,800. In a drag race the GTO would be the winner, the down side would be it would lose on a road course. When the '66 came out, the body had been extended 3 inches, the rear fenders had a "coke bottle" appearance along with smoother body lines. Vertical head lights would remain until the '67 production year. These cars have long been the choice for the serious car enthusiast who wants quality, styling and true performance for all occasions. Another important factor, as the family grew you did not have to deprive your self of your dream machine.
1947 JEEP CJ2A
It’s always great when you can trace the history of a vintage automobile back to its origins. This fully restored 1947 Jeep CJ2A was bought new from Davis Motors in Butte, Montana. It was then sold to Leipheimer Ford in Butte and used for business purposes, then on to the family farm in Belgrade. Les Roth purchased the Jeep from a Leipheimer grandson and brought it to his home garage for a full restoration.
That’s when the fun really started…new body, tailgate, front fender; and then transmission work, steering gear, brakes and transfer cases. Luckily, the engine had been rebuilt in 2008 at Engine Rebuilders in Denver.
Les’ goal was to make the Jeep as authentic as possible; based on the Jeeps he drove during his years in the military. Les served in the US Navy from 1960 to 1966 and even wanted to name the Jeep after the ship he served on…the USS Washtenaw County LST 116. He painted it battleship gray and it is authentically restored to match the Navy CJ2A’s he used in Viet Nam.
The serial numbers soon to be added under the windshield will reflect his grandchildren’s birthdates. This Jeep CJ2A was certainly a work of love for this Billings classic car buff.
The Cactus Car
In America, we have a love affair with the cars we've owned through the years. The passing of time doesn't diminish our passion. This particular car fits into the category of worn-out-but-never really-abandoned classics. The great southwest holds the secret location of this sculpture .... and many others just like it. It may look like it has seen better days, however in time, a classic car lover will see a diamond in the rough and restore it.
I have authored two coffee table books that will take you down memory lane. "Classic Cars of Mt & Wy" and "Hotrods & Classics" Every car has a story to be told which is at the heart of these full color books of very high quality.