Cruising for a ‘69 GTO

Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com Michele Southwick checks out a pink and white 1956 Metro on Saturday at the Taylor Chevrolet Classic Car and Hot Rod Show in Rexburg. Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com

Michele Southwick checks out a pink 1956 Metro during the 20th annual Taylor Chevrolet Classic Car and Hot Rod Show Saturday in Rexburg. Southwick has been attending the show for four years now. She said she keeps returning because she loves the selection of cars and the show gets bigger each year. Photographer Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com, Date 6/21/2014, Lens 130, ISO 200, FStop {fstop}, Shutter 1/3200, Aperature {aperature},

REXBURG — Nothing says summer like a ‘55 T-bird or a ‘57 Chevy.

For Scot Schneider of Idaho Falls, it’s a ‘69 Pontiac GTO.

“I had a ‘69 GTO in high school,” Schneider said.

By early afternoon, however, Schneider still hadn’t found his favorite. The fact that a 1970 model was on the lot didn’t excite Schneider.

“I don’t like the front end on the ’70s,” he said.

The elusive ‘69 GTO may have been the only classic car not represented Saturday at the Taylor Chevrolet Classic Car and Hot Rod Show.

With 270 classic cars registered by 1 p.m., Dan Yardley, Taylor Chevrolet finance manager, said this year’s show was the biggest ever. That the record turnout came on the show’s 20th anniversary, and helped eastern Idaho usher in the first day of summer, was so much the better.

A day to have fun

“This is just a day to have some fun,” Yardley said. When I came (to the dealership) eight years ago, we had 110 cars (on display). So, we’ve more than doubled that in eight years. Look at it out there. There’s nobody here not having fun.”

Schneider and his wife, Noralene, were among the thousands who wandered the among the rows of classic cars, whose ranks included a 1930 Model A Ford, complete with rumble seat; a silver ‘72 Volkswagen Beetle; and a red Datsun 1600 convertible.

And how about that pink and white ‘56 Cadillac Sedan de Ville or the lime green ’ 69 Plymouth Road Runner or the little ‘56 Metropolitan, also trimmed in pink and white?

“I love looking at all the cars,” Noralene Schneider said. “It’s amazing to me to see how much work they put into them. You gotta love it.”

‘I love doing it’

It took Rigby resident Steve Hansen about two years to restore his jewel red ‘57 Chevrolet Bel Air.

“It was a bucket of parts,” Hansen said. “The body was setting on the frame, it wasn’t bolted on.”

Sure, it took countless hours of work, but the 51-year-old Hansen doesn’t regret a minute of it.

“I love doing it. It’s fun. It’s a ball. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore,” he said.

Today, the Bel Air — with its chrome bumpers and chrome accents adorning the engine — is a thing of beauty. But that doesn’t stop Hansen from taking it out on the road, though he admitted, “I drive it like a grandpa car.”

A torch red T-bird

Across the lot, Harold Sermon was sitting in a lawn chair next to his ‘55 Ford Thunderbird.

The torch-red T-bird’s hood was open, revealing a 427 cubic-inch “Super Cobra Jet” engine that was designed by the legendary Carroll Shelby, Sermon said.

“I’ve been told the engine is probably worth more than the car,” he said.

The 70-year-old Sermon, a Heise Hot Springs resident, said he worked six years, off and on, restoring the car that he acquired from a down-on-his-luck commercial airline pilot. He grabbed a stack of snapshots that he took when he first got the car — the rusted hulk in the pictures looked like a goner.

“It was pretty much junk, a lot of it was in boxes,” Sermon said.

But the retired Palisades Dam maintenance worker took his time with the restoration. He, too, enjoyed every minute of the process.

Living with the risks

There was a time when Sermon kept the restored T-bird under wraps — an object to be appreciated rather than enjoyed. No more.

“Yeah, I drive it,” he said.

With that, he got out of his chair and walked over to the open hood, where he pointed out a ding most likely caused by a piece of flying gravel. Such risks are not about to keep Sermon from sliding behind the wheel once summer rolls around.

“So it gets a rock chip in it; so be it,” he said. “It is what it is.”

A classic quest?

As for the Schneiders, they simply enjoy being around classic cars.

“We’ve been to a lot of car shows,” Scot Schneider said. ” Even when a particular model isn’t your favorite, you’ve got to appreciate all the work that went into it.”

But what about that ‘69 GTO?

What happens if you find it?

What then?

Schneider smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

“You never know,” he said. “You never know.”

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