Sunday, September 22, 2013

27th-Annual Old Marais River Run. The place where the entire Kansas City car scene comes together

As we have proven here time and again, there are tons of car shows and cruises in the Kansas City area.  We look at quite a few of them here, and have the chance to check out cars all over town.  You tend to see different cars in North Kansas City than you do in, say, Gardner.  But regardless of which part of town they are from, it seems like all of them headed straight for Ottawa, Kan., over the weekend for the 27th-Annual Old Marais River Run.  This is, without a doubt, the biggest show in this area.  With nearly 2,000 pre-1972 cars and trucks, this is the who’s who of the Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita car scene. 

Good cars were easy enough to find.  This ’62 Cadillac convertible was beyond good.  I talked to the owner, Rick Thurber from Wellsville, Kan., and he told me that the flawless Caddy had just been restored.  In fact, this trip to Ottawa was its maiden voyage.  He informed me that the car had always been this beautiful Maize color.  The yellow leather was just perfect, and the engine compartment looked like it just rolled off the assembly line.  You see these cars once in a while, and they all look good, but this is one of the nicest ones I have ever seen.

This ’59 Pontiac Star Chief four door sedan wasn’t quite as flashy as that Cadillac, but it was noteworthy in its own right.  It had some good options, like power brakes and factory air conditioning.  But the amazing part about this car was its original condition.  Beneath those clear plastic seat covers were like-new original seats.  The Sunrise Coral paint had a few thin spots, but still shined like new.  You see a lot of cars that are restored as original, and sometimes people say they are original.  But this one really was original.  This car left the factory just like this in 1959, and no one has messed with it since.

Here’s a ’57 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible that I thought was awfully nice.  You probably know that you could get a ’57 Ford as a normal convertible like this, or as a Skyliner with a retractable hardtop.  Now most people probably wouldn’t agree with me, but I like the convertible better.  These had great proportions, especially with those sweeping, long quarter panels.  This one was my favorite color, solid black over red, and it was restored to a standard that is no doubt better than it was new.  I’d probably ditch the Dodge wheel covers for the ones that belong on it, but that’s a minor gripe for a car this nice.

There were a lot of muscle cars at this event, and this one really stood out.  It’s a 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda complete with a 426-c.i. Hemi under that shaker hood.  That orange engine was a striking contrast to the ultra-bright Citron Yella paint job, black billboard side graphics, and black vinyl top.  This car was owned by Jesse and James Heberling from Overbrook, Kan., and I have no doubt that every MOPAR nut in the park would have given his left arm to own it.

Another graduate from the same year, but not as intense, was this ’71 Monte Carlo.  This was finished in Burnt Orange Poly with a Sandlewood interior and white “liquid look” vinyl top.  This was a very nice car, and featured a 402-c.i. big block beneath the longest production hood in Chevrolet history.  But the option that made it really special was the four-speed manual transmission.  I couldn’t have told you that a stick was even an option on a Monte Carlo like this, but the owner states that it was one of less than 200 so built.

This ’62 Pontiac Grand Prix was another exceptional car.  I assume that it had been restored, but they did a damn good job on it.  This was the first year for the Grand Prix, and they were a big deal in their day.  They were like a smaller Catalina, gussied up to be like a big, fancy Bonneville.  They had a bit of a European vibe with a clean design and minimal chrome, but the interiors were spectacular.  The chrome-trimmed bucket seats and clear steering wheel, floor console and center tach made it pretty special in there.  This one also had power brakes, factory air, and Pontiac’s lovely eight-lug cast aluminum wheels.

I know I’m getting caught up on stock cars here, but there were naturally some great hot rods and customs as well.  Bill Wickert’s 1958 Edsel was easily one of the best customs.  Bill built it himself, and did a spectacular job.  The emblems had been changed to “SLEDSEL,” which seems appropriate, and there were sweet little custom touches everywhere you looked.  From the stance to the wheels to the interior, every detail was just so.  It even had an air cleaner that was ingeniously crafted from a spare grille.  You would never think something so nice could be built from a car with such a bad reputation.

There were so many nice cars at this show that I could just keep writing these little features forever.  But instead, I’ll show you a whole bunch of pictures.  More than 1,100 of them.  So many pictures, I had to break them up into two slideshows, which you can see below.  There are also links down there if you want to see a nicer version.

Click here to see a nicer version of Part 1.

Click here to see a nicer version of Part 2.


  1. Ugh...great galleries Craig but now I'm feeling even worse about not making it down there. Between the KU football game and the Royals games yesterday, I just didn't have time and was worried most of the cars would be gone today. Until next year, alas.

  2. I must say that all the pictures of the classic cars which you have shared are really attractive and enticing. I hope that you will keep sharing more interesting stuff like this about the luxury cars.

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  3. My first time to Ottawa and...WOW. Easily the best venue around. The Park was spectacular with over 1900 Cars on Saturday and the Nite Cruise was 4 hrs of the Best time all Summer! Again.....WOW! I'll make this Show every year now.

  4. I really appreciate your work as since my childhood I have interest to see different classic cars, my dad used to take me at these types of shows in the UK. I have 3 classic cars in my garage area. I usually drive them when I am going to participate a royal wedding.