Decades clash in Palouse car show

JACOB MOORE, Evergreen recreation editor

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Vehicle enthusiasts joined together in downtown Palouse on Saturday for the 13th annual Spring Hot Rod Gathering. Hosted by Knuckle Skrape’Rs, a Palouse-based vehicle company, the gathering showcased a wide variety of vintage cars and trucks while featuring live music, vendors and businesses that sidelined the streets.

Local business owner and organizer of the annual hot rod show, Marc VanHarn said he’s thrilled with how popular the event has become. VanHarn mentioned that this year’s turnout was less than previous years but is still substantial compared to when he started the event in 2005.

LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen
Event organizer Marc VanHarn talks about running the hot rod show.

“I just wanted to throw a party through my hot rod shop,” VanHarn said. “It’s turned into something much bigger.”

Even with multiple hot rod shows springing up in neighboring cities, the annual Palouse event attracts people who live over an hour away. For example, one person drove a 1935 Plymouth Coupe from Spokane, while another person drove their 1934 Ford Pickup from Hayden, Idaho.

Downtown Palouse aims to put on an event each month, one business owner said. All the events stimulate local business activity, but the hot rod show and a few other events are especially helpful because they attract both the show and the audience to Palouse.

A WSU alumnus said that he and his son have been coming to the event for years. The two come to spectate and converse with other vehicle owners. They specified the importance of experience that many of the hot rod owners bring to the show along with their cars.

LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen
A 1935 Plymouth Coupe on display at the Spring Hot Rod Gathering on Saturday.

For Tommy Gearin, body shop worker and owner of a 1956 Ford F100, the grease, sweat and mechanical work that goes into building cars began at a young age.

“I was basically born into it,” Gearin said. “My dad built a truck and that got me into it.”

Gearin is not alone in that aspect. VanHarn and a few other hot rod owners said they too started at a young age.

“I’ve been building muscle cars since I was a kid,” VanHarn said. “I built my first engine when I was 14 years old.”

Dave Bowden, owner of a 1941 Willys Coupe, got his first car in high school and continued developing cars because it is his passion.

“My first car was in the ninth grade,” Bowden said. “I built and modeled cars for fun. It wasn’t a job, it was a hobby of mine.”

As the polished vehicles glistened in the afternoon sun, car owners relished their shared passion along with the Palouse community. For many, the dedication that has gone into maintaining their classic cars has proven to be enough to last three quarters of a century.