Car lovers to come together for Mukilteo’s big show

Annual car show a social event for collectors, looky-loos alike
By Nicholas Johnson | Jun 20, 2017
Photo by: Nicholas Johnson Ron Osborn stands next to his four-door, six-seater 1960 Edsel Villager Station Wagon recently at his home in Maltby, where he keeps his seven various Edsels, including five station wagons, a sedan and a convertible. Osborn, who spent nine years fixing up the rare car after purchasing it in 1990, is set to show it off during the 8th-annual Mukilteo Car Show, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. this Sunday, June 25, at the Historic Flight Foundation, 10719 Bernie Webber Dr.

On his walk home from school each day in the late ‘50s, a wide-eyed Ron Osborn would peer into dealership windows and watch cars cruise by on Everett’s Rucker Avenue, or “Auto Row.”

“I couldn’t tell you the year of most of these cars coming down the road, but when I saw an Edsel coming, I could recognize that thing,” Osborn said. “There were plenty of Edsels running around town at the time. When Ford announced in late ‘59 that they were discontinuing that car, I really felt bad that day.”

Osborn’s infatuation with the cars of his boyhood, especially the Edsel, wouldn’t die easy. In 1983, he purchased his dream car: a 1959 Edsel Villager Station Wagon. After three years of work, including an engine replacement, he entered his first car show.

Since then, the now-70-year-old Maltby resident has acquired some 21 different Edsels, entering a select few in countless car shows.

“I got the bug,” he said. “Once I got one wagon, I decided I needed to have the others. Now I’ve got five of them, plus a sedan and a convertible.”

Over the years, Osborn has whittled his total stock down to seven, one of which he’s proud to say is among the rarest: a 1960 Villager Station Wagon. With 216 produced before Ford pulled the plug, an estimated 22 are on the road today, he said.

“I know there’s two or three in California, one in Nevada and one in Arizona,” said Osborn, a longtime member of the Edsel Owners Club. “I’ve never had anyone come up to me and say they know someone else who has one. I might have the only one in the Northwest.”

Osborn is set to show off his prized possession, alongside some 150 other car enthusiasts, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday during the Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce’s 8th-annual Mukilteo Car Show at the Historic Flight Foundation, 10719 Bernie Webber Dr.

Osborn said he doesn’t go to car shows to win awards, though he has his fair share. Instead, awards often make the show a bit more fun.

This year’s show features 15 awards, including Favorite Pick Up, Favorite Motorcycle, Favorite Exterior Finish, Favorite Sports Car, Favorite Original Stock, Favorite Street Rod (1948 and older), Favorite Interior, Favorite Muscle – FORD, Favorite Muscle – MOPAR, Favorite Muscle – GM, Best Engine, Favorite Daily Driver, Survivor to Barn Find, Favorite Custom/Special Interest (1949 and newer), and Best European, as well as People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice.

Each year, the Mukilteo show attracts classic cars and their owners from around the region. Still, Mukilteo residents are well represented.

Tom Nielsen, a lifelong Mukilteo resident and member of the chamber committee that organizes the car show, has entered the show each year, either with his 1949 Mercury or his 1932 Ford Coupe. This year, he’ll bring the Ford, which in 2015 was awarded best paint job.

Through car shows and clubs, many longtime local car enthusiasts come to know each other. For example, both Nielsen and Osborn are graduates of Everett High School and members of the original Colby Cruisers. Both say car shows like Mukilteo’s are a good opportunity to kick back and talk shop with fellow enthusiasts, most of whom hail from the same baby boomer generation.

“You get to meet other enthusiasts and make new friends,” Nielsen said. “For me, the social aspect is a big draw.”

Nielsen said he’s excited to do some socializing at this year’s barbecue-themed cruise-in, set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at the Historic Flight Foundation.

Nielsen recently got together with fellow car enthusiasts and Mukilteo residents Ken Wall and Dave Green to sit around their cars in Green’s driveway and shoot the breeze. They’re all members of the 600-member Thursday Night Garage Association, which gathers at Burgermaster in Everett each Thursday when not gathering at a member’s house. Both Wall and Green have entered cars in this year’s show, as well.

While Green has only ever owned one classic car – his 1930 Ford Model A Coupe – Wall has owned dozens over the years. At age 89, Wall recently finished rebuilding a 1928 Ford Model A Roadster Pickup. He started that project in 1980. Now, he’s looking ahead to his next project: a 1934 Ford Victoria, which he expects will take about 10 years to complete.

“He’s our inspiration,” Nielsen said of Wall.

In 2012, Wall won the Mayor’s Award at the Mukilteo Car Show with his 1936 Ford Roadster, which was also a national award winner among custom cars a year earlier. For this year’s show, Wall is bringing back his 1951 Mercury, which took top honors at the Mukilteo show in 2011.

“Tom helped me haul this car out of a chicken coop in Redmond,” Wall said of his Mercury, adding that he worked for four hours a day, six days a week for 10 years before finishing it in 2002.

Wall said the years of work he put into his Mercury make it all the more rewarding to show it off at car shows. Osborn said he enjoys walking around at car shows and talking to other car owners about the time and effort they’ve invested.

“They’ve spent years restoring these cars after they’ve sat for years in a field or next to an old barn,” Osborn said. “I really admire these guys who do a frame-up restoration. If I know they’ve done nearly all the work on the car rather than just finding it and driving it there, those are the cars I vote for.”

Nielsen said he looks for cars that evoke nostalgia, particularly an attention to original details.

“I like it when a car looks like it’s straight out of the ‘50s or ‘60s,” he said.

Green said he tends to focus on what’s under the hood.

“I like to see the mechanical workings of a car’s engine,” he said. “I don’t like these newer engines where you can’t tell that it’s an engine because it’s all covered in plastic paneling.”

Green and Nielsen, both of whom have hot rods, said they like a low stance.

“It has to look like it’s going fast even when it’s parked,” Green said.

Not only do their cars get looks, they get questions, they said.

“A lot of people will say, ‘My dad had a car like that,’” Nielsen said. “Then they’ll ask what year it is.”

“A lot of people don’t know what they’re looking at,” Wall added, “they just know they like it.”

Green said he drives his car more often than most enthusiasts. “People will pull up alongside me and ask, ‘What is that?’”

Nielsen said those questions can be annoying, but it’s important to take the time to answer them. As muscle cars from the 1980s show up at car shows more and more each year, fans of classic cars from the 1930s through the ‘70s know the importance of fostering an appreciation for those cars among younger folks.

“I think we have an obligation to answer questions in order to keep the hobby going,” said Nielsen, who remembers getting his first car at age 16 – a 1941 Mercury convertible.

“We couldn’t have guessed these cars would still be so popular all these years later.”

Osborn agreed, saying he’s still got a few Edsel projects to go and he doesn’t plan to give up on them yet.

“I just hope I have enough years left in life to finish all these projects,” he said. “It’s a labor of love, but I’m not sure I can afford to take on another 10-year project.”

 

Reader photo challenge

Your mission, Beacon readers, if you choose to accept it: Attend Sunday’s car show and make the best photo you can – whether of a car alone or a car and its owner together – and send it in for possible publication in next week’s Mukilteo Beacon. Send photos to mukilteoeditor@yourbeacon.net along with any supporting information for a caption. We’ll select the top shots and publish them with credit to the photographer.

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