- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2009

Duane Myklejord can attest to the veracity of the lyrics of the song sung by the Statler Brothers that “The Class of ‘57 had its dreams.”

He was one of the 72 students from the graduating class of 1957 at Fosston High School in Minnesota. In those days, production cars were just beginning to get flashy, both stylistically and with the outrageous use of color. The teenage Mr. Myklejord was attracted to many of the 1957 cars, with the DeSoto, Pontiac and Dodge having the most appeal.

True to the lyrics of the above-mentioned song, “Things get complicated when you get past 18,” Mr. Myklejord never got one of his 1957 dream cars - and he also never got over them.

“I began looking seriously for a 1957 car about 10 years ago,” he says. He found that many of the available cars close to home were riddled with rust or incredibly expensive garage queens. Last June, however, Mr. Myklejord got wind of an auction on a farm about 70 miles north of Middle River, Minn.

Among the items being auctioned was a 1957 hot pink and black Dodge four-door hardtop convertible with big, flashy fins. He inspected the 3,605-pound Dodge and found it surprisingly free of rust with the odometer reading only 78,000 miles.

When the bidding began, Mr. Myklejord discovered two other competitors had eyes for “his” dream Dodge and were inching up the price. He decided to gamble, and after determining a price above which he would not go, he actually placed his high take-command bid, succeeding in eliminating the competition. The Dodge was his.

There was no indication that the 325-cubic-inch V-8 engine in the 1957 Dodge Coronet could not successfully make the trip home, however, “I wanted to be safe,” Mr. Myklejord says. “I went back with a trailer the next day.”

Once the Dodge was in its new home, a thorough examination showed that there was no repair work needed. “I cleaned it up,” he recalls. “It needed nothing at all.”

A new black carpet was installed simply because it was easier than cleaning the original carpet. Mr. Myklejord thinks his car was sold new in Arizona and only years later ended up in Minnesota, perhaps explaining the absence of any rust.

When the new Dodge Coronet left the factory with no radio, it had a base price of $2,665 and did not have much in the way of optional equipment. Mounted on the dashboard, just behind the panoramic windshield, is a mirror with two more mirrors on the front fenders.

Particularly pleasing to him is the push-button automatic transmission, a short-lived phenomenon. “I’m going to be using it,” Mr. Myklejord says with confidence.

The massive grille/bumper combination is an intimidating chrome spectacle. “It really shines,” he reports. The remainder of the pink and black car sparkles as well, including the lengthy fins finally attached atop the rear fenders.

At the 50th class reunion in 2007, Mr. Myklejord says 40 of his former classmates were in attendance. He was there with his Dodge with all four windows lowered giving rides to many of the class of ‘57. The off-white vinyl seats were filled with happy classmates.

The figures on the odometer are now approaching the 80,000-mile mark. “I drive it a lot,” he says, adding that his Dodge only ventures out when the weather is fair.

Now that the weather is good, Mr. Myklejord and his Dodge often can be found cruising at the A&W Root Beer Drive-In in Fosston.

“I’m so proud of this car,” he says. “I use it each weekend throughout the summer here in northern Minnesota.”

• For your car to become the subject of the Out of the Past column, send a photo (frontal 3/4 view), plus brief details and phone number to Vern Parker, 2221 Abbotsford Drive, Vienna, VA 22181. Only photos of good quality will be considered. No customs or hot rods accepted.

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