3 May 2016

You’ve never heard of the McPherson College car show, but must attend

It’s nearly in America’s geographic center. It’s a windy, grassy town where the only hill is the manmade overpass that crosses the interstate at the town’s eastern edge. And if someone asks if you’ve ever been in Kansas before, they already know your answer – “I passed through, once.” But within the next decade, the town of McPherson and its namesake college will become famous among automotive enthusiasts. You see it’s the only college you can attend in the United States where you can graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in automotive restoration.

And the annual car show McPherson College hosts is quickly gaining speed. Vehicles on display include the usual suspects – mid-year ‘Vettes, Ford Mustangs, Model Ts, – as well as various motorcycles, tractors and even a few exotics. But the real stars are McPherson’s students, their work, and ‘performances’. The projects they show are impressive. This year they included a scratch-built board-track racer, Model T-based speedster (which looked 100 years old, but was actually hand fabricated over the past year) and tens of their own personal cars in varying states of construction.

Their performances include two drill teams, one composed of upper-classmen the other of lower, that build a Model T from bare components to completely assembled and then start it in less than ten minutes. While you might think it chaotic, it’s actually quite organized and neat. Perhaps the build’s most telling aspect occurred after they fired the T’s engine and drove it. The clock stopped for the lower-classmen at eight minutes, six seconds and after a round of high-fives, rather than heading off to smoke a cigarette or standing around idly, they cleaned up their tools and put them away. And that speaks to the program’s philosophy – conscientious, professional-level work from start to finish, and then some.

Most folks have never heard of McPherson, that small Kansas plains town or its college. That will soon change for car nuts. Add McPherson College’s car show to your must-attend list in 2017. It will rival the passion at Woodward, Pebble Beach, or Art Center’s Car Classic.

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