A history of vehicles

MARSHALL – The early morning thunderstorms didn’t stop classic car enthusiasts from turning out at the 27th annual Shades of the Past car show Saturday. Despite the wet conditions and muddy lot, people of all ages came to see some of the best examples of our automotive history.

Rod Wilkison, one of the organizers of the car show, said that rain didn’t stop the cars from coming in.

“They came to the show and got a free car wash,” Wilkison said. There were 187 entries and more than 200 vehicles to see at the show, and more than 250 cars participated in the cruise Friday night.

“We had people from Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Fargo and Wisconsin come to town for this,” Wilkison said.

“We’ve just kept up with the great program we started,” Wilkison said.

There wasn’t just cars, trucks and motorcycles at the show; Fran VanKeulen has been collecting something that every vehicle requires, and he had his massive Minnesota license plate collection on display at the car show. VanKeulen estimated that he has between 300 and 400 plates.

“I’ve been collecting for over 20 years,” VanKeulen said. “But I’ve been heavy at it for the last 10 years.”

VanKeulen’s collection spans more than a century, containing plates from 1911 up to 2013. Minnesota residents were required to register their vehicles and display license plates starting in 1909, so VanKeulen is only missing plates from 1909 and 1910. He has also made space on his display board for more recent plates from 2014 and 2015.

He also collects specialty plates from the state of Minnesota, including critical habitat plates, military plates and college and university plates. VanKeulen said that he is still looking for some college and military plates to round out his collection, but being able to see the changes in license plates over a hundred year span really gives the viewer a look at our automotive history beyond just cars and bikes.