COLUMBIA — There’s something special about the mixture of smells — engine grease, chili-cheese dogs, tire shine.
It permeates the rows of old-fashioned automobiles, beaming as brightly as their owners, and confidently identifies an age-old event: the car show.
The Old Wheels Collector Car Club took over Hickman High School’s parking lot Saturday for its 36th annual car show. For a cool $10, 116 participants registered their cars to be shown and judged in 15 different classes.
Wes Scott towed his 1931 Franklin Deluxe Club Sedan from Jefferson City to Columbia. A member of the Mid-Mo Old Car Club, he and three other members show their cars regularly.
The group usually drives their cars to events, but Scott didn’t want to risk any unnecessary danger. His Franklin’s brakes still needed some work.
“This is my new car,” Scott said. For Scott and his friends, new cars can sometimes be over 70 years old.
For Ed Wells and his son, Jeff Wells, their 1950 Mercury was the fruit of 20 years of sweat and labor.
“It’s my wife’s fault, I guess,” said Ed Wells, who grew up near Howard County. He recalled watching the movie “Cobra” with his wife years ago. The Mercury in the movie caught his eye and, with his wife’s encouragement, he began searching for his own.
At the intersection of Highways 40 and 240, Ed Wells found his dream car in a very unlikely and smelly place.
The car was marooned on a hog farm with a family of pigs living beneath it. Ed Wells bought the car in 1990, along with a couple others that were sitting around the farm.
“We ticked them (the pigs) off majorly by taking their house,” Jeff Wells chuckled.
The car was a mess. Jeff Wells said the interior was torn apart, and there were even newspapers in the car dating back to the 1950s.
But that didn’t deter his father one bit.
“Dad did everything to this car except the chop top, upholstery and glass,” Ed Wells said. “This thing’s been done every nut and bolt.”
The work was finished this past summer as the last parts of the remade interior were installed.
Ed Wells worked as a mechanic for UPS until he retired in 1998. That’s when he really started focusing on his car, Jeff Wells said.
“This was the car he had always wanted to build,” Jeff Wells recalled. “It’s the only thing I can remember him doing for himself.”
“This was the first one I’ve ever built,” Ed Wells said. “If I ever build another, I could do it a lot faster because of what I learned on this one.”
When Ed and Jeff Wells found the car, it was hardly 15 miles from home.
“You’ll be surprised when you find what you want,” Ed Wells said, “'cause it’ll be right under your nose.”