- Associated Press - Friday, July 28, 2017

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Salinan Sean Fischer has adored cars “since I was old enough to say the word car,” he said.

His favorite type of car is the one that not everybody else has.

That’s why it’s no surprise that he owns one of the rarest muscle cars ever distributed: a 1969 SC/Hurst Rambler, the last car made in the U.S. by Rambler under the American Motors Corporation.

The car is so rare, Fischer said he has to carry with him the original advertisement “because no one will believe me when I tell them this is how it was made.”

“Only 1,512 of these cars were made. This one was part of the first 500 made. It was 29th down the line,” he said. “I’m a die-hard stick shift guy and real muscle cars have a clutch pedal. It’s still factory correct. I haven’t made any changes to it.

“I doubt there are more than 300 in the world today. I love cars that not everybody else has. That’s usually the older models. The cars had more character back then.”

Visitors at this year’s Kustom Kemps of America 37th Leadsled Spectacular, set for Thursday through Sunday at Salina’s Oakdale Park, will get an opportunity to see the rare Rambler.

The Salina Journal reports that the show, the 13th annual in Salina, will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with the 7th Annual Spectacular Sundown Cruise down Santa Fe Avenue, between Mulberry and Ash streets.

“It’s just continuously growing and it’s more than just a car show now,” said Jerry Titus, president of Kustom Kemps. “It’s about an era of Americana that was the happiest time of the country, the ‘50s and ‘60s. You can’t get into the show unless you have a car made in 1969 or before. It also helps that we offer 12 attractions at one event.”

Fischer purchased his vehicle from the original owner, who lived in Pennsylvania, for $6,500. When the car came out it cost $2,998.

“Now I bet it could sell for 20 times that,” he said.

The super car features the “A” red, blue and white paint scheme; red-line tires; blue mag-style wheels; a 390 cubic-inch, V-8 motor; red, white and blue headrest, and the word “AIR” on the hood scoop.

“This thing was originally advertised as going 100 mph in 14 seconds,” he said.

Fischer’s car will be among about 2,000 hotrods, dragsters and custom cars and trucks from all over America on display during the “Show & Shine,” from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Friday, 9 to 5 Saturday and 9 to 2 on Sunday at the 26-acre Oakdale Park.

Returning at 12:30 p.m. Friday will be the Kustom Kemps of America Hotrod and Custom Auction at Salina Auto Auction, 2845 Centennial. Vintage Market Place will be Friday and Saturday at the 4-H Building and Kenwood Hall. Admission is $10 for the auction and $1 for the Vintage Market Place.

The Run Whatcha Brung Drags will be from 5 p.m. until dusk Friday off Markley Road. Admission for bleacher seating is $10 a person.

Fischer, whose rare super car will be featured in the “Show and Shine,” in the past has entered his 1964 Dodge 330 in the drag races as well.

A member of Ozark Mountain Super Shifters, Fischer used to drag race professionally across the country.

“It used to scare the hell out of me every time I dropped the clutch,” he said. “I’ve slowed down with the drag racing. I didn’t think I would enjoy the car shows as much as the racing, but I do. It’s a fun time and you meet interesting people from around the country during the show. I’m not sure if I’ll enter the drag race this year, but I will be attending.”

Tiffany Benien, sports and events manager with the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, said when the Leadsled Spectacular first came to Salina, it was held at Thomas Park.

“It was just a small little car show with a couple hundred cars. A few years later we encouraged Jerry and Devona Titus to consider Oakdale Park as a change in venues because we ran out of space and needed more room for vendors and more staging for entertainment,” she said. “Oakdale has the infrastructure needed to grow the event. Now, it’s one of the largest events we work with as far as bringing visitors to Salina.”

Benien said the chamber is typically conservative when estimating how much money an event generates for the city.

“I believe this event generates over $1 million in direct visitor spending for Salina,” she said. “That’s from visitors and participants coming and spending dollars on hotel nights, gas, dining, shopping and just general purchases.”

About 200 volunteers - some from outside of Kansas - help during the event, Benien said.

Volunteers with Salina AMBUCS, North Salina Community Development and other local organizations pitch in to help.

Deb and Terry Zuelow, of Hasting, Neb., have volunteered for the Leadsled Spectacular the past five years. The event falls near the couple’s July 30 wedding anniversary every year, Terry said.

“We volunteer during what we call ‘the hot shift’ at the Mulberry Street gate, usually from about noon to 2:30,” he said.

Terry said he and Deb used to live in Belleville and frequently visited Salina. At one point, they traveled the country to attend big car shows, Terry said, but “now we just come to Salina and we don’t go anywhere else.”

“You can see everything you want to see at the Salina show. There are hot rods, custom cars, whatever you want to see,” he said. “We really enjoy the cars and the people there. It’s just a great show. We look forward to it every year.”

Benien said the event is so successful because of the enthusiasm of Salinans.

Salina has really embraced it. The community, especially the city of Salina and hotels, seem to look forward to it,” she said. “The love of the community for old cars is amazing. When participants come here, they feel welcomed. They look forward to returning the next year.”

___

Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, https://www.salina.com

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