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Family ties inspire hot rodders

Staff writer

Affordable Street Rods’ inaugural car show Saturday was a major success, drawing in 138 classic cars and trucks, co-owner Annette Watson said.

As one of the original hot rods, there were several Ford Roadsters from the 1930s. The car became popular because it was light and fast, making it easy to race, she said.

For Watson, there was added significance because her dad owned one.

“That’s special that his first car was the ’32 Roadster and that’s the iconic hot rod,” she said. “He would be so pleased and excited to see all the ‘32s running around.”

For all the Roadsters present, Wichita resident Linda Egnor’s stood apart. In addition to being the only green apple-colored hot rod, it was a homecoming for the car.

The car was built in Peabody during the 2009-2010 school year. It was taken to a show in Wichita, where Egnor’s ex-husband Jan Coe bought it.

The primary change to the car over the years has been the paint job, Egnor said. It used to be black with Peabody’s school district number, 398, on the side.

She viewed coming to Peabody as a way to honor her ex-husband and friend after his death last year.

“He just fell in love with this one,” Egnor said. “He took it to a lot of car shows over the years. Before he died, we talked about me showing it for a year in his memory.”

Several car owners made similar trips. They came from St. John, Wichita, and Park City, places with their own car shows over the weekend.

Craig Budge was another enthusiast to make a lengthy drive. Budge brought his ’49 GMC truck from St. John. Unlike Egnor and many others, his truck did not have a pristine paint job.

“People seem to like this thing,” he said. “It’s more affordable than the fancy stuff. I’m not really into paint, just never have been. It’s expensive stuff to look at.”

Instead, the truck had a worn appearance, though no rust. Letting cars rust was a waste, he said.

Owners Rex and Annette Watson chose Saturday as the grand opening for their new building on West Potter Rd. in Peabody.

“We printed 10,000 open house fliers and handed those out,” Annette said. “We’re down to about five.”

The Watsons attend 30 shows a year, from New England to Florida, hauling a 40-foot trailer. The trailer houses inventory, giving them a place to sell products at shows.

Despite the extensive work on the road, they wanted a good site for when they were in Peabody.

“Very few people in Kansas know what we do,” Annette said. “We thought having a storefront was good for us, Peabody, and Marion County.”

The Watsons’ reputation was a major advantage in attracting hot rod enthusiasts.

“Rex and Annette do a nice job presenting their products,” Hillsboro resident Dale Klassen said. “They’re very knowledgeable and will tell you what works. For a hot rod builder, it’s great to have something that close.”

Klassen originally found out about the Watsons’ business through a mutual acquaintance.

“I was doing business with a friend up in Nebraska and he was ordering parts from them,” Klassen said. “The parts would go from Affordable Street Rods, to Nebraska, to me. I finally realized they were 20 miles from me.”

His inspiration was partly about the truck, and partly about family ties.

“Being a farmer, I wanted to do a pickup,” he said. “My dad always talked about driving one like this when he was in high school.”

The openness of the hot rod community is what makes it fun, and makes it feel like a family, Klassen said.

“It’s nice to see everybody’s cars and their projects,” he said. “Seeing what they do gives you a vision of what you want to do on your next one, or what you want to change on a car you have. It’s like a family of hobbyists.”

Last modified Sept. 27, 2018

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