Nostalgia galore at Gordy's Hi-Hat's Curbside Classic Car Show
More than 150 cars were on display in the parking lot of Gordy's Hi-Hat, with seven classic automobile owners receiving trophies and gift cards by evening's end.
CLOQUET — Combining nostalgic drive-in fare with antique automobiles, the annual Curbside Classic Car Show at Gordy’s Hi-Hat in Cloquet brought together vintage car collectors from across the Northland to show off their freshly-polished hot rods, trucks, sedans and everything in between.
More than 150 cars in total were on display at the Thursday, Aug. 4 event, with onlookers able to admire and marvel at the vehicles displayed throughout the parking lot.
Restaurant co-owner Sever Lundquist said their retro 1960’s drive-in feel blends perfectly with their annual classic car show.
“That’s kind of our schtick. That’s our vibe,” Lundquist said. “It’s a lot of people bringing in cars that they brought in 62 years ago when they first came here.”
The festivities began at 5 p.m. and concluded with an awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m. when five “Best of Show” winners were selected out of 86 vehicles registered for the contest. All of the registration and ballot proceeds were directed to Cloquet Community Education Foundation.
The special “Gordy’s Choice” award was also presented in honor of the late co-founder of the establishment, Gordy Lundquist.
According to Sever, the Gordy’s Choice award was generally reserved for vintage pick-up trucks and Studebakers as a result of Gordy’s affinity for the vehicles through his time selling them in the 1950's.
Sever couldn’t help but get emotional during last year’s ceremony when he carried on the legacy of the Gordy’s Choice award just weeks after his grandfather’s passing.
“I made the choice as to the Gordy’s Choice trophy for (last) year, and just tried to kind of do something that we think he would have liked,” Sever said. “So that was special for us. It was a tough one to get through. I was a little choked-up when I was presenting the award.”
This year it was Dan Lundquist’s turn to carry the torch in presenting the Gordy’s Choice award, which was presented to an unlikely winner.
“We’re going to go out of character this year, because I know he would love this car,” Dan Lundquist announced to the crowd.
The winning vehicle was a 1961 Chevrolet Impala convertible owned by Wrenshall native John Kuikka, who's been a fixture at the event for many years.
For Kuikka, the trophy and gift card were an added bonus, as the camaraderie with fellow classic car collectors is the main reason he keeps coming back.
“I don’t go for the trophy hunt. If i get one, fine. If I don’t, I don’t. I go just to visit with people,” Kuikka shared.
Kuikka said he originally purchased the vehicle in Texas back in 1986, and spent the next two years acquiring the parts and rebuilding it using his extensive knowledge of cars.
“The trunk and the hood looked like somebody had a dance on them,” Kuikka said of the Impala’s original state. “I did the whole car myself—body, paint, interior. I’ve done car work all my life, so it’s been a hobby.”
Joining Kuikka in receiving a trophy by night’s end were Best of Show winners John Zack of Cloquet (1957 Chevrolet Bel Air), Alan Randall of Florida (1967 Chevelle), Bernard Bergman of of Esko (1955 Ford Crown Victoria), James Lagios of Esko (1934 Ford Roadster) and Peggy Vanhoever (1958 Chevrolet Apache pickup truck). Stan Lang of Culver won the Shirley’s Choice award with his 442 Oldsmoble.