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  • Automotive Essence

How 1 Car Inspired Us To Start A Car Blog

Updated: May 31, 2019

But more importantly, why are cars worth writing about

The perspectives on the value of the automobile may be split between two camps. There are those that believe a car is simply an appliance helping people get from point A to point B. Then others strongly feel that a car is an extension of one's personality, a design worth admiring, a symbol of a story worth sharing, or even an artifact worth displaying in a museum. The car is typically the second most expensive purchase for a household, after a home. There is a certain emotonal attachment that comes along with this financial investment. For those that have passion for cars what is it about those cars, models, or brands that have such an affect on us? And why does a car even warrant being placed into a museum? Jared and I love talking about cars and often we come across a story that appeals to our emotions. Perhaps the story we are about to share may appeal to yours and may change the perspectives of those that feel a car is just an appliance.

Not your typical visit to a local dealership

Jared and I visited the Dahl Automotive Museum in LaCrosse, WI. The Dahl Family has been in the Automotive Dealership business for over 100 years, when Henry Dahl wanted to help people buy a new form of transportation, the automobile, and began selling the first Ford Model T's in 1911. At the museum, we were greeted by Sam, a retired LaCrosse city bus driver, who is friendly, knowledgeable, and host to this gem collection. As host he is a steward to the cars the Dahl family has collected over five generations. Perhaps more importantly, he is the storyteller of many great tales that are waiting to be told and aren't

written in the descriptive placards in front of each vehicle.

We did learn interesting facts of early car distribution, current dealership management, auto design and functionality of cars dating back to the early 1900s, along with technologic evolution from acetylene fueled headlamps to superchargers. Lessons about Mustangs and other muscle cars whose production was halted until safer features could be offered, with the last muscle car Mustang that rolled off the line in classic yellow on black color scheme on display to be admired. But what we heard next caught our attention. Of all the cars and the unique "mascot" hood ornaments that we saw there was one that is really special.

Not your typical Ford Shelby GT350

The best story in the whole Dahl museum was this 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 in moss green with gold racing stripes. Shelbys are pretty rare then as well as now, in more ways than one. The story goes... in 1967 parents ask their young teenage son battling cancer if he would like to do something special, he suggests a trip to California. They fly there from LaCrosse, WI and while there attend a fair. The boy asks his mother for a dollar and she asks what the dollar will be for. "I would like to buy a raffle ticket." he replies. The boy ends up winning this very Mustang!...The boy and his father drive it back to WI... what was probably an immeasurable bonding experience... Two weeks upon returning home the boy passes away... A few years later the boy's parents ask Mr. Dahl if he would buy this Mustang from them, due to significant financial hardship. "Yes, I'd be happy to buy your Mustang," Mr. Dahl replies. He adds simply, "and in addition I'd like to pay off all your medical debt." This is the quintessential reason we love cars, or maybe we just love the stories we hear about cars.

If it weren't for a parent's desire to treat their son to a fun trip... if it weren't for that son's excitement in seeing a beautiful and strong car... if it weren't for a mother's love of extending the smile on her son's face by offering a dollar... if it weren't for whatever reason someone offered up a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 to a raffle in a California state fair... if it weren't for one true moment that only in hindsight luck wasn't luck, but fate, and fate wasn't fate, but perhaps an amazing moment of intentional design... and if it weren't for a willing father to take off work for a couple weeks to share a drive home with his son across the country... if it weren't for all this and more, a boy wouldn't have won a car so fast it could win a drag race and so gorgeous it would be replicated in future designs decades later. That boy wouldn't have had a road trip across perhaps some of the most cherished roads in America like the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66. That trip wouldn't have been perhaps the most immeasurable bonding experience between that father and that son.

Not your typical car dealership perspective

That Mustang wasn't purchased by an owner of several car dealerships in a family of car dealership owners because they like cars. That 1967 Mustang isn't in a museum because the same family owning the museum that owned the dealership loves cars. We guess that Mustang was purchased from the family struggling financially for the exact reason car museums should exist, to put a car on display that was perhaps the standing testament for the most exciting moments of a family's life together despite everything else they experienced. Imagine... a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 won by a boy not even old enough to drive a car, but perhaps young enough to have a greater joy over a machine! And not just any Mustang, but this moss green and gold racing striped one. And not just any museum, but one as a 100 year celebration of another family who probably love cars simply for the stories they represent.

This is why we believe car museums exist, to celebrate the stories behind the cars perhaps more than the great stories of the cars themselves. This is why we love cars and feel called to pull these stories together in the way we will on this site.

Thank you for joining us,

Jared & Jim

Content Sources:

  • Dahl Auto Museum:

  • Image Sources:

  • Shelby GT350 photographed by Jim Kelly while onsite at The Dahl Auto Musuem November 12, 2011

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