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Classic car is dream, hard work

Staff writer

Ben Steketee’s dream car took a 15-year wait and now is taking time to restore to its original glory.

The 1972 Buick Riviera formerly belonged to Rex Flaming. Stekette saw it after Hillsboro Fire Department put out a fire on Flaming’s farm.

“We were there, and he took me into his barn and showed it to me,” Steketee said.

Steketee asked whether Flaming would sell it. Flaming said no.

In 2019, the Flaming family had an auction.

“Kind of to the chagrin of my wife, I bought it for $1,600,” Steketee said.

Sitting in the barn as long as it had, the car had become home to a number of packrats.

“People would open the door and close it immediately,” Steketee said.

That didn’t deter him. He speculated it might have been why he was able to buy it for a low price.

The packrats had built amazing structures.

“I could hardly get them out,” he said.

When he removed cardboard from the car’s trunk, he found a packrat skeleton. He keeps it in a plastic bag as a souvenir.

Hanging over a rack in Steketee’s garage is another souvenir of the Riviera’s former residents: two skins from a black rat snake that lived in the car when he bought it.

The car still is being restored. Some work is being done by Steketee and some work hired out.

The engine is being worked on by Bruce Serene at Hillsboro Racing Engines.

The interior was redone by Loewen Upholstery in Newton.

Rod Bolstad rebuilt the carburetor.

Nightingale Transmissions rebuilt the transmission.

Pete Classen redid its eight-track tape player.

The car still has its original dashboard, and the roof remains in pristine condition.

Steketee installed LED lighting along the bottom of the rear windshield.

Although the car isn’t finished, Steketee said he hoped it would be road-ready by June so he could drive it to the Riviera Owners Association convention in Branson, Missouri.

Last modified Dec. 9, 2021

 

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