‘They’re labors of love’

Main Avenue shines with classic cars during annual event

Mikey Young of Dove Creek looks over a 1951 Ford Pickup owned by Ron Laux of Farmington at the Durango Motor Expo. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Mikey Young of Dove Creek looks over a 1951 Ford Pickup owned by Ron Laux of Farmington at the Durango Motor Expo.

For auto enthusiasts, Main Avenue was the site of some serious eye candy Saturday, with custom paint jobs and fancy hood ornaments gleaming in the sun at the Durango Motor Expo.

This year, 217 vehicles were entered in the expo, which will benefit the Mercy Health Foundation and Hospice of Mercy, and behind nearly every pristine pick-up and shimmery soft-top, there was a proud owner (sometimes a few owners) with a great story to tell.

“He used to drag race,” said Stella Moore of her husband, Dick Moore. The Farmington couple relaxed in the shade, watching as people admired their 1968 Pontiac Firebird.

Dick Moore started working on cars as a kid. In high school, he restored a ’55 Chevy pickup, and as his wife pointed out, he did some drag racing in ’62.

The couple bought the Firebird in 1994 and spent about two years restoring the car, although, Dick Moore noted, it’s a work in progress.

“We did it all except for the paint,” he said.

Their favorite spot to drive is through Woodland Park, but for practical reasons, the Firebird isn’t their primary vehicle.

“This car has black interior and no AC,” Stella Moore said.

“It’s got a 4-60 air conditioner – four windows down going 60 miles an hour,” Dick Moore said, following up his wife’s comment.

Far more impractical was this year’s show stopper, a ruby red-and-silver Price Snoplane.

For those not sure what to envision here, the Snoplane looked like an old-fashioned one-seater plane on skis. Its owner, Tom Price, worked on the craft himself, using a bent TV dish for the plane’s nose.

And as far as great stories go, Price had a photo album’s worth of memories to share.

“In 1932, Dad started building them on Electra Lake with wood,” Price said, displaying photos of Snoplanes on Electra Lake, Engineer Mountain, Animas Mountain and Smelter Mountain. “After the war, he switched to metal.”

In one faded black-and-white picture, the Snoplane pulled several skiers behind it. In another, Price’s father stood with a Snoplane in Fairbanks, Alaska, in the 1940s.

“When they told me to park here, I went ‘Oh my goodness,’” said Larry Lemieux, who sat in the spot next to Price with his 1970 XKE Jaguar.

Throughout high school, Lemieux said, he loved Jaguars, so when he happened to see one parked in a Buick showroom in 1970, he bought it even though the car payments cost more than his rent at the time.

“And the rest is history,” Lemieux said.

Another pastel beauty was a 1964 Corvette Stingray owned by Wayne and Monica Noland of Dolores.

The Nolands bought the “golden wood yellow” convertible after it sat in storage for 11 years in a town near Detroit.

The couple owns several other covetable cars, including a 1938 Oldsmobile Coupe and a 1967 Studebaker Hawk, Monica Noland said.

Next to the Nolands, their friend Wayne McCarey sat with his 1964 Studebaker Super Hawk. The car was the last of its type, built just before the plant closed in 1963, McCarey said.

There were more than just Jags, Studebakers and Stingrays at the show. Dave Claussen put serious elbow grease into his off-road Volkswagen Meyers Towd, originally built in 1969 and relicensed in 1970.

Claussen grew up working on Volkswagens with his father, he said.

“He passed away, but I just kind of carried it on,” Claussen said.

After years of working on his own vehicles, Claussen noted the countless hours of work owners put into building, restoring and maintaining the vehicles on display at the expo.

“They’re labors of love, they really are,” he said.

scook@durangoherald.com