Cletson Cox, Lenexa, remembers riding around Emporia in the 1960s with his best friend in a 1955 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery vehicle.
“It only had one seat, and then [on] the other side, we put a two by ten piece of wood and two concrete blocks, and that was our passenger seat,” Cox said. “Of course, you didn’t have to have seat belts back in those days, you could do anything. I’ve been slammed around in that car more than once — nothing to hold on.”
Cox attended the 31st annual Ol’ Marais River Run show with the car this past weekend, which has been nicknamed “Black Beauty” by his wife. He averages about three car shows a week.
“I’m always gone,” he said. “I get around quite a bit.”
Cox’s lifelong friend and the previous owner of the ‘55 Chevy — the two met in 1965 at Emporia State University — bought the car in 1967 from a cleaner service that had used it to deliver laundry around town. They were both music education majors.
“Everybody in Emporia thought that was weird — we liked cars, but we could also do music,” Cox said.
When his friend passed away a little over four years ago, he had five hot rods, and gave one to five of his friends.
“[The 1955 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery] went to a friend of his that lived in Florida,” Cox said. “Well, then he didn’t want it anymore, and I bought it. Then the car I had, I sold.”
Less than 9,000 of the vehicles were manufactured, so it’s a rare find, Cox said. At one car show, he added that there were 2,500 cars, but only four Sedan Deliveries.
“Any time I order parts, they say, ‘You have one of those?’” Cox said.
The black paint job on the car is 24 years old, and still looks brand new, Cox said. He hired someone to have the interior redone, but has updated the brakes, ball joints, wheels and tires himself. He cleans and works on the car several times a week, he said.
“I can get away from the telephone, TV, and just turn the stereo,” Cox said.
Over the years, he’s owned a 1956 Chevy, ‘46 Plymouth, another ‘56 Chevy in high school and college, a ‘55 Chevy when he got out of college, three Corvettes, a Plymouth Road Runner and “probably a dozen motorcycles.”
“I used to race my Road Runner,” Cox said. “I used to race my ‘56 when I was in high school, too. My dad wasn’t too happy about that, but he got used to it. I never did break down, he always told me I was going to ruin it.”
Cox said he has done as many as three car shows in one day. He travels as far as Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the Tri-Five Nationals, but has also been coming to Ottawa for the Ol’ Marais River Run car show for at least 20 years.
“This is a great show,” Cox said. “It’s the best one I come to.”