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A classic display of cool

Greg Risling

They make people stare in awe. Some households are broken up because of their very presence. They are given the utmost detail and love.

Inanimate objects with a whole lot of character. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes.

Customized or restored, the automobile is a prized possession. That wasn’t more apparent for the 350 car buffs who showed their stuff this weekend at the 12th annual Cool September Days.



From hot rods to Model T’s, people from as far away as Los Angeles came to Lake Tahoe in hope of not only taking home one of 40 awards but to meet other enthusiasts like themselves.

The average show vendor can be best described as patient, meticulous and attentive. Two things you must have if want to rebuild an old classic: time and a deep pocket.



“You have to be devoted,” said Don Mitchell, an Elk Grove resident who displayed his ’34 Ford in the Horizon Casino Resort parking lot. “Lots of spare time is important. You can be fiddling on one bolt for an hour but you know its worth it.”

Autos can be homewreckers as well. Spending too much attention to the body and interior of a car and not to your significant other can mean disaster. Raeder Van Uhlit, who took home the Best Paint award, said last year the proceeds from one car up for sale would be split between him and his divorcing wife.

“My wife totally understands and when we come to a show like this, she does her thing which is gambling and I talk to people,” Van Uhlit said. “Some women will get jealous. You need to provide a balance in your personal life.”

For some, repairing an automobile is a family affair. Minden resident Joe Liebherr has 15 cars and enlists the help of his two sons and their children. He said his boys involvement with restoring cars stemmed from one underlying thought.

“I wanted to keep them out of mischief when they were growing up,” he said. “At an early age I liked working on cars and I guess it’s passed along to another generation.”

Every car has its own style along with the owner’s shining personality to boot. Take a ride in one of these cars and you’ll find you’re at the center of attention. Van Uhlit’s raspberry Mercury always gets applause and thumbs up from crowds. The appreciation received by the car’s owners is tremendous and they return fond words to the public.

“It’s great to meet new people and go to fun places together,” said Margaret Shaffer. Along with her husband, the Tahoe Keys couple won awards in two categories. “I think most people will agree, you can never get enough of cars like these.”


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