Mike & Kelly Padgett

1956 BelAir

It all started when I was a young boy and Dad was outside working on his latest fixer upper. My main job at the time was to stay out of the way and get whatever tool he needed. But, mostly stay out of way being that the car was up on cement blocks and he didn’t want me anywhere near it should it decide to give way. I got to help him work on a number of classic’s. A '65 and '66 Mustang and an early 60’s Chrysler Imperial with push button automatic to name a few.

At the ripe young age of 16, my first car was the '66 Mustang I had the pleasure helping him with. It came with a 289 CID engine, C4 trans, and a gorgeous Midnight Metallic Blue paint job. Man that car could fly and yes, it definitely helped me land a few dates in High School. Especially, after I had installed an FM stereo with 8 track player and six speakers. Friday’s after school, before work, were spent buffing her to a spit shine to cruise Dale Mabry in Tampa, Florida. Unfortunately, she became to costly to maintain and I had to let her go about 8 years later. Salty sea air does wonders for metal and not all good.

I did remain interested in cars, but trying to raise a family on a young military man’s salary kept me away until now. During that time I would work on whatever second hand vehicle I had picked up to get me back and forth to work. A regular $500 special. Vehicles like a 78 Toyota SR5, appropriately named the “Rusty Bullet”, a 78 Ford Econoline with an unstoppable 300 cid 6 cyc, named Jezebel, and my personal favorite, a 71 Cadillac Sedan Deville with a 455 under the hood. My kids affectionately called that one the Land Barge. Never could quite understand why they didn’t want their friends to see them in it. Maybe it wasn’t sporty enough.

Around October of 2001 I got a phone call from my good friend George Masters. He asked if I’d like to help him work on a car he was restoring. So I headed over to his garage thinking no biggie a couple hours and we’re done. Boy, was I surprised to see a '56 2 door hardtop in what looked like a million pieces to me at the time. Fortunately, it only turned out to be a couple hundred. A few months later as I stood there looking at the transformation I realized it was time to get back into it.

The next year Kelly and I joined the Dakota Cruisers and NDSRA. We enjoy the camaraderie and making new friends immensely. Since joining we've purchased a 55 BelAir 4 dr from George. A really nice driver. There's nothing quite like hitting the road with several thousand pounds of Detroit steel surrounding you. Some say it gets a little windy in North Dakota. In the BelAir we don't even notice it. We also enjoy the Wednesday nite cruises and occasional runs with our friends and neighbors to Dairy Queen. This year we went on our first out of town rod run to Williston and plan on making the Prairie Cruiser's run in Dickinson during July. Hope to see you there and Happy Cruisin’.

Mike and Kelly