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Thirty year love affair with the first set of wheels he ever owned

By Staff | Jul 19, 2008

What is it men love most?

First, let’s not count family. Many men love their wives, children, grandchildren, parents, etc. Let’s keep this discussion to inanimate objects.

While his home might be his castle, and his dog might be his best friend, the one thing a guy truly loves is his wheels.

It might be his pickup truck, motorcycle, four-wheeler or a hot rod. It’s probably not the family mini-van. In a lot of cases, it is a classic car, a certain car from his youth perhaps, that gets his blood pumping.

He might not even own this car, yet, but he sure wants to.

For me it is a 1966 Ford Mustang convertible. I owned one when I was young, and I own one now.

I thought Mustangs were a cool car when they first came out as a 1964 1/2 model. And 1966 was the year the great state of Colorado granted me a driver’s license so I could legally drive one. Therefore, the ’66 ‘Stang is my car of choice.

I have a friend who thought a 1966 Goat (that would be a GTO to most people) was the best car ever made. He also owned one as a youth, and owns one now.

Its a story that is shared a lot at car shows, such as the one held at Giant Days in Blue Earth last Saturday. Many of the men (and women) there own a car that they loved as a youth, and now they own one again. Most have sunk a lot of money, time and hard work into these vehicles.

One of these car owners is Dean Wenzel of Ceylon, with his 1972 Ford Mustang Mach I. It is his pride and joy.

While a lot of guys buy a car they remember from their youth and restore it, this Mach I is the same car from Wenzel’s youth. He bought it in 1974 when he was a junior in high school and has always owned it.

“I heard a lot of older guys talk about a car they had when they were young, and wished they had never sold it,” Wenzel says. “So the day I bought this car, I decided that I would keep it forever.”

It had 21,000 miles on it when he bought it, and 77,000 miles today.

“The car had a lot of hail damage when I got it,” he says, “Which is the reason that I could afford to buy it when I was in high school.”

In 1991 Wenzel decided to restore it.

“It took until 1998 to get the restoration done,” Wenzel says, “I had a hard time living without it for those eight years.’

Wenzel and a relative did all the engine work themselves, completely tearing it down and painting the parts as well.

“It wasn’t in too bad of shape; didn’t need to be bored out, just overhauled,” he says.

A body shop in Truman repaired and painted all of the body and replaced the interior.They did a great job, Wenzel adds.

He is one classic car owner who doesn’t just keep his wheels in storage waiting for the next car show or parade.

“I drive it quite a bit,” he admits. “That’s why I have to spend a lot of time cleaning it.

Of course, with gas going over $4 per gallon, and this car needing premium, the driving has become a lot less.

“I have been riding my motorcycle to work in Fairmont just to save on gas costs,” he says. Wenzel also does some farming at his place near Ceylon.

“I get to Blue Earth quite often,” he added. That is because he is Dar Holmseth’s brother. So you might see his ’72 Mustang cruising the local streets.

Wenzel wasn’t the only classic car lover in Blue Earth on Saturday. The car show brought out a lot of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even a couple of race cars. The crowds showed up too, with a lot of folks wandering around the rows of old- but fully restored- beautiful sets of wheels.

I overheard one women walk by the Mustangs and tell her companion, “Boy, I sure wish we had never gotten rid of our old Mustang.’

That’s something Dean Wenzel will never have to say.

The car show was just one of the big events at Giant Days this year. Since it was the very first one I have attended, I can’t really compare it to previous ones.

Everything seemed to come together well, and went off without a hitch. Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Manager Shelly Greimann confirmed there were hardly any problems at all. You can read her comments in the Chamber Focus column this week.

Having worked on city summer celebrations in the past, I know they don’t happen unless a lot of people are willing to put in some volunteer hours to make it happen.

The weather also cooperated, with the miserable hot and humid conditions of Friday turning into a beautiful day on Saturday. Pretty lucky!