Thunder on the Plains highlights cars, owners and their stories

Tiger Media Network

The annual Thunder on the Plains car show took place on Saturday in Hays. There were many entries from all across classic car history. And alongside the cars, are the owners who often have stories to tell about their beloved hot-rods. 

1947 Hudson Pickup

Franklin’s 1947 Hudson Pickup

One such vehicle was this 1947 Hudson Pickup owned by Mich Franklin. Most people today are probably most familiar with the Hudson Hornet of the 1950s primarily due to the Pixar film “Cars,” but the Hudson Motor Car Company produced many other cars from their founding in 1909 to their eventual end in 1957. Other notable vehicles they produced during their lifetime include the Terraplane models of 1932-38 and the Commodore models of 1941-52. One that usually gets overlooked is their Pickup models. They only produced about 3,000 and today, they’re a rare find. 

Who’s to say how many of these rare trucks have ended up in the junkyard, but even as an old wreck a restoration is always possible, take for example this Hudson Pickup from the last model year of 1947. Franklin bought it in 2014 as a wreck. 

“A friend of mine crashed it in the ‘90s, going down the highway,” Franklin said. “Gal hit him right in the door with a big old Ford car, and it sat in a field for about 15 years, and that’s when I got it.”

Of course, major work was done to ensure it got to the point where it is now. As Franklin explained, 

“Well to start with we took another car to get the cab piece repaired. We took what parts from the wreck that we could save, and then I put it on car frame which would let me shorten the bed up,” Franklin said. 

Franklin also re-did the interior to be more modern, using seats out of a Nissan and reupholstering the rest of the interior. Franklin also installed a newer engine – a 2002 Firebird 3200 V6. 

This pickup is far from Franklin’s first Hudson. 

“My father drove Hudsons, and my first Hudson was right out of high school. I bought a ‘47. So I’ve been in and out of Hudsons.” 

Franklin said part of the appeal of Hudsons is the fact that they’re not that common. 

“There’s not very many of them, and that’s fun at a show like this to go, and there may not be another Hudson Pickup, and may not be another Hudson,” he said. 

1946 Cadillac Series 62

West’s ’46 Series 62

In the postwar period, Cadillacs were among the top luxury brands available, popular among the wealthy, politicians, movie stars, and gangsters. This particular model shows off the beauty of old-school American luxury sedans, and to top it all off, it is both original and unrestored. In the 40s and 50s, this is what most would’ve liked to have been in, but not so in the case of its current owner.

“It was a rich old man’s car”, says current owner Mark West from Dighton. 

Back when West was in high school in the 40s and 50s, he viewed himself in a different kind of vehicle. “I didn’t want it. I wanted a hot rod like all the other guys.”

He’s come full circle since then. West not only eventually acquired the ‘46 Cadillac in his later years, but he also knew the original owners from back in the day. 

“A local farmer in Dighton had a good wheat crop. He went to town and bought his dream car, which was this Cadillac,” West said. “The family had it for three generations, traded it to a John Deere dealer, they had it for about 25 years, and then we bought it. We’re the third owners. It’s original as can be except for tires, belts, and so forth.”

Despite not liking it when it was new, the car has grown on him as time’s gone by. 

“I like the older stuff better.”

1934 Ford Sedan

Vistuba’s 34 Ford Sedan. The car is currently for sale.

In the 1930s, the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. During that time, violent crime and gangster activity went up. One popular car amongst criminals back then was the Ford V8. The 1934 sedan, in particular, has etched its way into history as the infamous Bonnie and Clyde “Death car.” 

However, this particular V8 also from that year has no association with any criminal gang. But this car does involve a father and a son. Jeff Vistuba of Gorham is the current owner, but it was originally owned and customized by his dad who had owned other several vintage cars, including a 1935 Ford Pickup that was used in the 1973 movie “Paper Moon.”

“My dad had built a car previous to this. This was the parts car originally to that. So he built this car back in the late ‘70s and got it done in about 1980,” Vistuba said. [He] put a 327 Chevy in it, power glider, air conditioning, Corvair suspension, all the stuff that was cool back in the ‘70s. Had it since probably about 1975, and paid about $35 for it originally.”

Vistuba’s father passed away in 2018, and now they have decided to sell the ‘34 Sedan. This car is currently for sale for $29,500. While they will be sad to see it go, according to Vistuba, it’s time to move on.

Those interested in this particular car, can contact Vistuba at 816-718 7427.