Classic cars come to Keystone this week |

Classic cars come to Keystone this week

Special to the Daily

KEYSTONE – Richard Fell was vacationing in Montrose five years ago when something sitting along the side of the road caught his eye, and he fell in love all over again. But the recent retiree hadn’t seen a hitchhiking supermodel – far from it. The new object of Fell’s affection was a rusty, dented 1951 Ford that he would soon restore to near-mint condition, embracing the new hobby of his golden years. Today Fell is the proud owner of both the 1951 car and a 1936 Ford Roadster, which he plans to drive from his home in Englewood to Keystone today for the weeklong Western National V-8 Ford Car Meet. Nearly 220 registered participants are signed up, with more drive-ins expected for the gathering, which will be run under the direction of National Chief Judge Waymon Brownlee. All cars present will be 1932-1953 Ford, Lincoln or Mercury models, judged on the accuracy of the owner’s restoration to the car or truck’s condition when it rolled out of Henry Ford’s factory.

Owners who earn 950 points out of the possible 1,000 win the Dearborn Award, the highest honor at such an event, where cars are not compared against one another but against the standard of the Ford Company. “I like this kind of an event because I’m not being judged against any other person’s car,” Fell said. “I don’t have to have the best car there to get a first place. All I’ve got to do is compare it to the book.”Fell won the Dearborn with his 1951 Ford several years ago, and is now hoping to do the same with his 1936 Roadster on Wednesday, when the cars will be lined up in Tenderfoot Parking Lot at Keystone and judged from roughly 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spectators are welcome, as long as they don’t touch the cars or interfere with the judges. There will 10 to 12 classes spanning 21 years of cars (Fell’s ’36 will be in the same class as the similar ’35s, for instance), with perhaps five to 10 cars in each class. There can be multiple Dearborns awarded per class, or none at all.

A separate class of vehicles not considered for Dearborns will be the touring class, cars from the ’32 to ’53 era that have been modified from their original states. Jim McNaul of Dillon is one such owner, though his modifications are not as modern as some other hot rods.McNaul has owned some 20 classic cars over the years but currently owns only a 1953 Ford Pickup that he bought 5 years ago and modified with historical accuracy in mind.”The Ford V-8 club recognizes that customizing and hot-rodding is a big part of the Ford heritage,” he said. “(My truck) still very period correct. It’s customized exactly like it would have been in 1953.” A Denver Ford dealer in the 1950s made a habit of customizing the vehicles immediately after they arrived in his store, adding more power to the engines, more modern brakes and maybe some white wall tires. Henry Ford was so simplisitic a designer that his vehicles became outclassed, McNaul said. Dealers had to modify the some models to make them popular.

Thursday and Friday the cars will tour Summit County, going from Keystone to Leadville, Montezuma, Breckenridge, Frisco, and Dillon. At five consecutive stops on Friday owners will pick up a playing card to form a Poker hand.Those with the best hands will be awarded prizes at Friday’s banquet, where Dearborn winners will also be recognized.For McNaul, the cars are a passion but the Keystone event is a party.”It’s not really about the cars, it’s about the people,” he said. “You can concentrate on the cars and that’s fun, but it’s just (about) finding people in your age group that have a common interest.” Mike Morris can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 223, or at

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