Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The 2017 Frog Follies - 43 years and still going strong

When it comes to car shows, the Frog Follies in Evansville, Ind., is no joke. 2017 was the 43rd year for this street rod extravaganza, and some 3,500 cars came to the party. Hosted by the E'ville Iron Street Rods Car Club, this event pulls cars from all over the country. The entries are limited to pre-1949 street rods, but there are plenty of later classics scattered throughout the extensive car corral and swap meet areas. We went up for the second year in-a-row, and had a great time once again. I’m going to take a look at a few show cars, cars that were for sale, and whatever else caught my attention.

I appreciate the comfort and usability of a nice street rod, but I absolutely love looking at true vintage hot rods and customs. This ’29 Ford roadster doesn’t just look right; it’s the real deal. Claude Kern has owned this since 1960, and it looks remarkably the same 57-years later. I love the Corvette small block with three carbs (it fits nicely with the Corvette Powerglide gear shift housing). I love the Sportmatic radio and chrome speaker behind the red and white pleated seat. I love the machine-turned gauge panel and chrome-plated, finned brake drums. This thing is a real time capsule. I’d like to see 3,500 hot rods built just like this!

While we’re on modified Model As, I can’t leave out Don Pfitzinger’s ’30 Ford Speedster. I’ve seen a number of these cars built like this over the years, but few have been as nice as this one. This is all entertainment, from the gold-leaf numbers and hand-painted graphics, to the dramatic stance and button-tufted leather seats. Most of this was hand-crafted, but the taillight housings appear to be the rear fender reflectors of a ’47 Buick. This car had swarms of people around it all day, and all of them were smiling. You could bring a million-dollar street rod out here, and it wouldn’t get any more positive attention.

This isn’t a hot rod, but it is a stunner. This ’35 Plymouth Deluxe coupe features a breathtaking restoration and tons of period-correct accessories. Crown Maroon is the perfect color to highlight the Art Deco lines. This car looks like a million bucks—you wouldn’t think it was a modestly priced car in its day. I love the accessories, including the fender skirts, trim rings, radio, luggage rack/trunk, steering-column-mounted flashlight, bumper guards, driving lights, and awesome little spotlights. The whole thing just looks rich and impressive. What a car.

Here are a couple that weren’t in the show, but they were offered for sale in the swap meet area. First up is this ’73 Oldsmobile Delta 88 four-door sedan. This one is notable because it only has 18,000 miles on it, and it looks that way. I mean, it doesn’t look like a “barn find,” because there is no wear or patina or whatever the kids are calling it these days. It’s perfect, as if it just drove off the showroom floor in 1973. Even the black interior isn’t thin or faded. They only wanted $7,500 for it. Granted, it’s probably not the most desirable car ever made, but that still seems like a bargain to me considering how slick it is.

Next up is this ’70 Buick LeSabre convertible. I think if you lined this up against a ’70 Chevy Impala, Olds 88, and Pontiac Catalina, the Buick is the best looking of the bunch (especially against the Pontiac, which had a face only a mother could love). This car had a lot going for it, including that unbeatable Matador Red color inside and out. And those Buick Road Wheels were about as good as it gets. This one was pretty nice. It had some bodywork and a lot of red paint, but for $19,500 you’d have something pretty to take to the local car cruise.

This is more indicative of the type of car that you would see at the Frog Follies. Late ‘30s/early ‘40s cars with late-model drivetrains, suspensions, gauges, air conditioning, and other creature comforts form the backbone of the street rod scene. This particular car is a little different because it’s a Chevrolet in a sea of Fords, and it has a woody theme that would not have been available on a Master DeLuxe two-door sport sedan originally. The whole thing was nicely built, and the subtle differences make it stand out in the crowd. I think I would have enjoyed driving this car back to Nashville. It looks like a comfortable ride, and it looks cool to boot.

Some of the best street rods are made from big, fancy old cars, and few are bigger or fancier than Joe Klinkhardt’s 1932 Studebaker President. At first, you think it’s a big, subdued, stock Classic, but when you look a little closer you realize it has some pretty trick modifications. That’s not a ‘30s Studebaker lump under the hood. This one is powered by a 383-c.i. Chrysler V8. The elaborately carved woodwork on the external trunk was done by one of the most famous custom car builders ever, Norm Grabowski. Less than 50 of these cars were ever produced, and I doubt any of them are cooler than this one.

There were plenty of other cool cars there too. I snapped 369 pictures at the 2017 Frog Follies, and you can see the entire album by clicking this link.


  1. Great photo collection,with some very interesting creations.

  2. This was a real assortment, fine cars, fine photography. Tom

  3. Really nice job!
    Jeff in VA