Taking trip back in time

Newton -- Donovan Schmidt's story of his favorite car from his younger days is probably familiar to a lot of people. He had bought a brand new 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 2-door hardtop for $2,439 and enjoyed the stylish ride for years.

"But then we had our children and we needed a 4-door car, so I traded it in on a '63 Galaxie 500 at King Motors in Hesston," he said. He has no idea where the original Inca Gold/White '57 wound up, but it never completely left his mind.

That's where his story takes a bit of an unusual turn.

"I had been looking for a car like my old one for 12 years," he said. In October, 1999, he read in a trade magazine of a '57 Fairlane that was being sold as part of an estate.

"It was in northwest Iowa. An old bachelor had bought a new Ford vehicle every other year and put the previous one aside and never traded it in. The ones he liked, he kept. He sort of had his own little museum," Schmidt said. "They said it was gold and white, so I made a phone call and asked if it was Inca Gold and they said, 'Yes, it is.'"

Schmidt asked if the seller would hold the car until he could drive up on the weekend and when he arrived, he bought the Fairlane on the spot.

"It has 56,586 actual miles on it, with the original gold and black interior," Schmidt said. The car is equipped with a 3-speed Fordomatic transmission and the 312 cubic inch V-8 performance option, which includes dual exhaust. He added deep-finned aluminum Thunderbird valve covers and a chrome air cleaner under the forward-tilting hood, but otherwise has left the car virtually bone stock.

"I have just maintained it," he said. But that doesn't mean the car isn't driven.

"My wife, Deloris, and I go to local car shows, not more than 30 or 40 miles away," he said. The couple also enjoy auctioning off rides in their car to raise money for charities, as well as chauffeuring wedding couples and high school graduates on their special days.

"That's what's fun," Schmidt said. "To just have a car that sits around doesn't appeal to me. Taking people somewhere in it is what we really enjoy."

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