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Becker County residents rebuilt a classic

Dilworth graduate has owned 76 classic cars, including the one he brought to the Northwest Water Carnival's Fly-In, Drive-In breakfast on Saturday.

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Bob Swenson, who grew up in Dilworth and now resides in Detroit Lakes, belongs to three car clubs. Two clubs are based in Detroit Lakes and one is in Fargo-Moorhead.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — Bob Swenson was cruising around Big Floyd Lake. He lives there, so the leisurely drive was one of many. Glancing out of the window he watched a garage door open and could hardly believe his eyes.

“There was a ‘57 Chevy in there,” he said, noting he parked and promptly went to visit with the man in the garage. “The guy told me he thought about selling it. I told him he should — to me.”

Swenson had dreamed of owning the classic Bel Air since he was a boy growing up in Dilworth, Minn.

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Bob Swenson, Detroit Lakes, appreciates the beauty and designs of classic cars, such as his 1957 Chevy Bel Air. He rebuilt the car, but not the engine, which he left as is.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“I graduated in 1957 from Dilworth; it was just Dilworth High School back then,” he said. “I would see those cars cruising on the road, and just hoped, one day, I would have one.”

That childhood dream came true as an adult. After purchasing the Chevy, Swenson began restoring the car.

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“I restored the car, but I didn’t do anything to the motor,” he said.

The chrome bumpers came in five different pieces, and Swenson was able to find originals from salvage yards within 50 miles of Detroit Lakes. He ordered other pieces from specialty shops and swap meets. Before the car was finished it even had the gold trim and gold grills.

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Bob Swenson owns five rebuilt classic cars. During his lifetime the 1957 Dilworth High School graduate has owned 76 classic vehicles.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

After it was repainted, Swenson has watched heads turn every time he drives it. Such was the case when he pulled into the Fly-in and Drive-in classic car show on Saturday, July 9 at the Detroit Lakes-Becker County Airport. The event was part of the Detroit Lakes Northwest Water Carnival festivities.

Swenson enjoyed chatting with fellow car enthusiasts about his classic car, and the ones he left at home.

“I also have a 1931 Buick Model 50 with an 8-cylinder motor,” he said. “That is the first year a person could own that motor. They were expensive back then, too expensive for anyone other than gangsters.”

He also owns a 1952 Ford Victoria, 1952 DeSoto with a hemi motor and a 1966 Chevy Caprice two-door with a hardtop.

“I bring a different one every time I go to a car show,” he said. “I try to make the shows within a 50-mile radius of home.”

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