Local group of classic car lovers is in it for the funFor the past 11 years, the Midnight Cruisers has grown in size but has stayed a close-knit group of classic car enthusiasts. “We’re one big happy family,” said Lloyd Thompson of Detroit Lakes. “It started out as a handful of people. We’ve grown to several handfuls.”
By: By Pippi Mayfield, Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — For the past 11 years, the Midnight Cruisers has grown in size but has stayed a close-knit group of classic car enthusiasts.
“We’re one big happy family,” said Lloyd Thompson of Detroit Lakes. “It started out as a handful of people. We’ve grown to several handfuls.”
Each Wednesday from May 1 through September or October (depending on the weather), the group meets at 6:30 p.m. at Classics Auto Repair and Restoration, located on Highway 59 South at the old Ranch Amusement Park property. The first Wednesday of the month, they leave their classics parked in the lot and hold a Show and Shine event. The remaining Wednesdays, they meet and then drive together to a pre-determined location for dinner.
“Anyone who sees us during the Show and Shine (from the highway) is welcome to stop in,” said Kit Nelson of Vergas.
Although it’s not a requirement to be in the group, many of their cars are from the 1950s. Some members even have garages full of ‘50s memorabilia.
“It’s nostalgic in reliving our childhood. When we get together, we’re all 19,” Nelson said with a laugh.
One big difference between this car group and others is just that, they’re a group, not a club. There are no officers, and there are no dues.
Most of them are members of the Minnesota Street Rod Association.
Lee Swanson of Detroit Lakes said they’ve seen discord and power struggles in other organizations, but not here.
“We’re the un-club,” Nelson agreed.
The group sits down twice a year to plan the upcoming six months. This summer, besides the Show and Shine events, they will be traveling to various locations throughout the area on Wednesdays.
Another difference is that the cars in their group don’t need to have been made in any certain year or be in any certain shape.
“With our group, anything goes pretty much,” Swanson said.
Taking a drive
Each fall, the car group hosts a fall foliage tour, driving 150 miles one day in October to see the leaves changing. They’ve gone to Maplewood State Park and Itasca State Park, and try to change the destination each year.
“Last year was the only one there’s been rain,” Diane Thompson said.
The trip is open to anyone, whether they drive a classic car or not.
They also road-trip down to St. Paul each June for the Back to the ‘50s celebration at the state fairgrounds.
Last year, a group went to Deadwood, S.D., and the Black Hills for five days. This year they are planning to drive to Ashland, Wis., over the July 4 weekend.
During the trips they take in the sights — and any car shows in the area.
In 2006, some even started on Route 66 in Chicago and drove all the way to the end in Los Angeles, then back home to Minnesota.
“We’re doing things we couldn’t afford at (age) 20,” Swanson said.
A group also drove in the Hot Rod Power Tour, a 3,300-mile drive from Little Rock, Ark., through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The host property
Classics Auto Repair and Restoration, owned by Matt Modrow, is the host site for the Midnight Cruisers on Highway 59. He moved his business into the building May 1, and the classics followed.
That wasn’t their first meeting though. Modrow has been a part of Midnight Cruisers for a couple years. He has a 1929 Ford Model A he’s restoring, which he hopes to have running this fall.
“It was out in the woods when I bought the house,” he said as to why he chose to restore that car himself.
Modrow said he has done some work for his fellow group members, plus, “it’s good advertising to have them parked out there,” he said of the parking lot on Wednesdays.
Modrow, who started out in collision repair work, said classics are special because people care more about the vehicle than just getting it to look like it did before an accident.
“There’s much more appreciation doing this than collision work,” he said. “It’s nice to make money on it, but my passion is restoring old cars.”
Pippi Mayfield is a reporter at the Detroit Lakes (Minn.) News Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.