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Classic Cars Cruise Through Twin Cities

51c743c420451.imageBy The Chronicle

Droves of hot rods descended upon the Twin Cities Saturday.

The annual Billetproof Hot Rod and Custom Show featured nearly 600 classic cars made before 1965 at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds. Women sporting vintage dresses and bathing suits complimented the souped up rides while raising money for charity at the show.

Billetproof excludes high tech, billet wheel, digital dashed techno rods or street cars made after 1964.

James Hinkley, of Centralia, showed off his 1950 Pontiac two-door fastback.

“It’s sporting the original motor,” Hinkley said, proudly motioning toward the flathead straight-8 engine under the hood. “Nobody really does it anymore but I wanted to get a feel of what it was like in 1950.”

Hinkley said his Pontiac was one of just a few cars at the show to feature an original engine.

The car, he said, has a storied past, surviving three floods in the last half century. Most recently, in the 2007 flood, Hinkley said his Pontiac was completely submerged in water. When the floodwaters receded, more than an inch of mud covered the car.

Hinkley went to work finding parts across the state to restore the car. Finally, in 2011, his hot rod again hit the streets of Centralia.

“It’s definitely been a labor of love,” he said. “Years in the making.”

Hinkley first bought the car for $1,000 from his father when he was just 13 years old.

Since then, he has worked tirelessly on the hot rod, which his longtime girlfriend, Laura Beaver, refers to as “the other woman.”

“But she was here first so I have no complaints,” Beaver joked, standing next to the car in her vintage 1950s-style flowered dress.

Along with the car show, the event featured a pin-up girl contest where voluptuous women dressed up like models from the 1940s.

Some of the pin-up girls even donned 1940s swimwear to participate in a dunk tank, for the first time this year, along with the annual contest.

Kiera Clover came from Portland to represent Patriot Pin-Up Inc., a non-profit group that raises money to support veterans.

“We just love the era,” she said, wearing a vintage dress, with red patent heels, sunglasses and beads.

Sonja Buckalew, a vintage model known as “Sofia Delish,” came from Bremerton to work with Pinups Against Cancer, which helps families affected by the disease pay for expenses such as groceries, mortgage payments and transportation. Buckalew was sporting a 1940s bathing suit, and a swim cap, complete with red lipstick.

“I love the modesty of the swimsuits,” she said. “It gives you just an edge of sexiness.”

Pinups Against Cancer’s Kelsey Ross, competed as “Miss Ginger Snap.” As part of the pinup contest, Ross donned her vintage swimsuit and allowed spectators to dunk her in the tank of water.

“It’s cold but it’s fun,” she said after her initial dunk. “I just love the contest atmosphere.”

Billetproof also included a swap meet and two live bands, Effies, a rockabilly group, and Graceland Five, fronted by an Elvis impersonator.

Following the show, the classic cars cruised down Centralia’s Tower Avenue, creating a scene reminiscent of pre-1960s America.

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