On the Road – SD the finals

 I started out in Rapid City and found this gem of a car museum.  Yes, they also sell cars, but it is a genuine museum and the entrance fee is only $5.  If you sign the guest book you get to come and go several times. 


It opens at nine in the morning on week days and I got their early so I took a few photos from the fence.  A German Shepard came over to my car idling at the front gate and made sure that was as far as I planned to go.  At nine one of the owners showed up and she opened things up.  While she was getting ready I strolled around the outside and snapped some photos of some great old cars.  It made me wish that I had too much money and could take on about six of them as project cars.




I went inside, paid my $5 and entered the museum.  It greets you with a classic street rod called Black Widow.  Then off to the right is a room devoted to motorcycles.  It was nice to see the British makes as well as the Indians.


Back I went to the main room and off into the room with cars from the first few decades of automobiles including a milk van.  The next room had a series of Chevy’s from ’55 to ’58 as well as some other classics.  But what really caught my eye was the Airplane Car.

This was amazing!  The guys that put it together really had a great imagination.  It sounds like it was in rough shape when it was bought to be restored having seen hailstorms and neglect, but what a gem it is now.




This museum has many things to see including toys, shelves of hot rod parts, trains, etc.  It is a really fun place and the owners are very nice, down-to-earth folks.  I hated to leave them, but Mitchell, SD was next. 

I should have stopped at the Pioneer Car Museum in Murdo, SD, just off of I-90.  It was on the way, but I was tight for time since I enjoyed the Motion Unlimited Museum back in Rapid City for so long.

Little did I know but I should have gone to Deadwood, SD, before I hit Rapid City, but I’ll explain that one later.

Mitchell was several hours away from Rapid City, but I made good time.  I watched the countryside change into the grasslands when I had just gotten to the boarder from Wyoming to South Dakota.  If I have my facts right, there was once about 500 square miles of grasslands and it is amazing to see how it rolls on and on with hardly a tree anywhere.  It must have been an awe inspiring sight to see a million Buffalo grazing on those grassy plains.


I did take a quick stop at a place where Lewis and Clark camped in 1804 and 1806 on the banks of the Missouri River.  What an adventure that must have been.  Here I could travel at nearly 80 miles an hour and stop for food and water where ever, and that expedition had to fend completely by themselves. 


When I made it to Mitchell I had arrived early enough to catch the Telstar Mustang-Shelby-Cobra Museum.  Its entry fee was pretty steep.  It was twenty dollars per person and I had to pony up $30 because I was solo.  It is owned by a husband and wife restoration team that has been there for 27 years, but has been restoring for over 40 years.  Their collection of cars is absolutely amazing.  For one thing the completeness of the collection is unmatched and for another each of the cars has not just been restored, but exceptionally restored.  Every bolt, everything has been cleaned, refurbished, painted, what-ever.  It is far better that anything that left the factory.  My favorite was the 1967 Shelby Mustangs.


What they show in the museum are the cars of their personal collection, but they have restored many, many more Mustangs.  I was showed a before and after photo of one customers car that was truly amazing.  It started as literally a basket case and six weeks later looked like one that they had in their museum.  It took thousands of hours and meticulous work.

Here are a few photos of the cars waiting to be restored:



After that I headed for the hotel.  I caught up on some sleep instead of adding to the blog.

The next morning I was all set for the hour or so drive to Sioux Falls where the Performance Car Museum was waiting.  I had looked this up on the web and it is an amazing museum full of muscle cars of the 60’s and 70’s, but what I was really looking forward to was their celebrity cars.  It included the Trans Am Clint Eastwood drove in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Lee Marvin’s Shelby convertible, the motorcycle that Steve McQueen drove in the Great Escape, and much more.

I got to the address and felt confused.  Nothing was there but an exercise club.  I went in and asked about the museum and was told that they moved.  Did they have and address?  He pointed to the billboard outside at the highway and said that they moved to the place on the sign.  I phoned the number and was told, yes, they museum moved and was now in Deadwood – the opposite end of the state, over 400 miles away.  I was livid.  I was not driving back either.  I looked it up on the Internet and everything I found still said it was in Sioux Falls.

So I continued east and to New Ulm, MN.  It is where my parents live now and I need to spend some time with them.  Very quickly the country started to look like Minnesota.  The grasslands gave way to fields of corn and now there were oasis of trees amongst the fields.  

This entry was posted in Automobiles, Car Museums, Car Stuff, Cars, Life and Cars, Road Trips. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to On the Road – SD the finals

  1. Lauri Shaw says:

    Who would have thought that South Dakota was a Mecca for old, beautifully restored vehicles. Great photos, Jim.

    By the way, have a great Fourth and visit the southwest again real soon!

  2. Judy says:

    Jim, I’ve truly enjoyed your road trip…the scenery as well as the cars…love those Mustangs! I think I’ve seen the airplane car in Leghorn Foghorn cartoons! Can’t wait to hear all the stories from you firsthand…safe trip back…Judy

  3. Noel says:

    Hey Jim,
    I really think you ought to keep going after you visit your folks in Minnesota. There are lots more museums to see and places to go. And we all need to hear about them.

    When you finally get home, I don’t know what my mornings will be like without being able to read your latest tales from the road. This has been a great adventure for you and a fine vicarious one for the rest of us.

    I hear the road calling, but can’t answer the call just now. Thanks for sharing the trip with us.

  4. Jim says:

    It would be fun to keep going and I am very happy that so many of you are enjoying the ride along with me.
    I will have to head back home for a couple of reasons. The first is that this does take money and I need to recognize that reality. Second, I’ve learned that my cat is petitioning for me to be declared dead so she can change the house into rental property.
    So I’ll take some time at home and perhaps I’ll have some meaningful reflections on the journey. I can always resume it at a later date. There are a lot of places east of the Mississippi with car museums, too.

  5. Tim says:


    When will you be back home? You gotta test out the Goat’s new suspension!

  6. Garry says:

    Hey Jim,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading about your journey and visits to the car museums. It is surely nice to see pictures of cars older than I am. It really brings back memories of my youth. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time on the road. Maybe Elaine and I will see you again at Mark & Leslie’s home when you get back.

  7. Eric says:

    Did you take any pictures of the motorcycles in Rapid City. I’m jealous 🙂 Would love to take a bike trip there.

  8. Henry says:

    Hey – look at my about Jim comment

  9. Bill Leary says:

    So Jim, while your dragging home cool parts and souvenirs, can you drag home that ’67 Shelby Cobra for me?? BTW – Watch your mileage…..I don’t want my next car getting excessive mileage put on her! 🙂

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