Hot rods, old Mustangs and even some homemade contraptions sprawled on the greens at Centennial Park this Saturday for the annual George Geer Memorial Car Show.
The show is hosted by the Blue Star Moms Southwest Chapter 2 of Colorado and is held every year to honor George Geer, a Montezuma County soldier who died in Iraq in 2005.
Proceeds go to benefit troops, veterans and their families.
This year’s show did not disappoint, with over 80 vehicles parked on the fields between the Cortez Public Library and the Cortez Police Station. Onlookers milled about, examining the flashy designs while strands of Motown and rock blared in the background.
Craig Schaff drove his 1942 Chevy power wagon down from Montrose.
But it’s no ordinary power wagon – the vehicle’s previous owner built it up with a series of eclectic and nautical features resembling a ship’s cabin, although the legend surrounding the vehicle remains hazy.
“There are little pieces. Which ones are actually true or which are not, I really don’t know,” Schaff said. He bought it at an Arizona auction in January.
The previous owner supposedly had been preparing the camper for a trip up to Alaska, but he died before being able to make it, Schaff said. The back was snugly outfitted with a bunk, cabinet, drawers, curtains and dinner bell. Its elevator lift was “out of service,” though, and so curious passersby were asked to use the ladder to peer in the back instead.
The former owner was also a sailor, accounting for some definite nautical elements, Schaff said. The wooden paneling of the back curves in an upside-down “U” shape, with circular and rectangular windows peering out, ship cabin style.
An ornamental fruit tree also is carved into the back – Schaff painted it as a way to leave his own mark on the car, along with painting the tires burgundy to match the rest.
He’s put about 2,000 miles on it since acquiring the vehicle.
“It’s like driving a truck,” Schaff said. “You have to pay attention all the time. It won’t get up to today’s highway speeds. The top speed’s about 55.”
Another car aficionado, Lyle Rice, has now made it his hobby to repurpose old farming equipment into art or new vehicles. He brought three of his creations to the show.
“It’s just all old machinery parts,” Rice said. “This one’s actually the back end of an old combine. That one has several different old Chevy truck parts and Ford parts and mower parts – little bit of everything. The Dodge is probably the closest to original, but you can see the motorcycle I built in there, out of old junk parts. It’s what I do.”
Neighbors and friends now know to bring him their old equipment, he said.
Now retired, Rice formerly operated a construction business in Cortez, he said. He lives just northeast of Cahone.