Motion Unlimited–Rapid City, SD

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I’ve been looking forward to visiting this place since the beginning of the trip.  Its just that I remember reaching it eight years ago and being very pleased with the cars that it had and one that I found special that it has on display.

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On the outside it has several great cars that it has for sale.  These are project cars, obviously, but the body styles of these I find just great.  When you think of what it takes to take a flat sheet of steel and stamp out a shape with multiple curves such as these post-war cars – well it is amazing what car companies could turn out and still have them affordable.

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I just love this Pontiac.

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And the early Corvair has such complex lines.  The next version did look more racy and sophisticated, but this first generation was such a classic form in itself.

Here are a few shots of vehicles outside:

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On the inside is the museum itself.  To greet you is this great hotrod.  A real classic.

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There are tow rooms off to your left.  The first one has several cars…

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…and the occasional display of automotive artifacts, such as this cabinet full of different spark plugs.

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My grandfather had the first car dealership on Cape Cod.  He sold Oakland cars, which GM later turned into Pontiacs.  Well just around the Great Depression GM also bought Allis-Chalmers and told my grandfather that he would now need to sell AC spark plugs.  My grandfather replied that he preferred Champion spark plugs.  GM told him that they would take away his dealership if he didn’t use AC spark plugs.  It was the Depression so my grandfather stuck to his guns.  Cars weren’t selling much anyway.  That was the end of the dealership.  We still would buy Pontiacs from time to time, but never as a dealer.

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So into the next room, which has some great cars on display.

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But here is my favorite.  The one that really caught my attention when I first visited this museum many years ago.

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The Airplane Car.

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Here is the story behind this unique and fun-looking vehicle:

We found this unusual car in the back lot of a defunct car museum in Chadron, Nebraska, some twenty [its been longer than that now] years ago.  The airplane engine was thrown in the dirt, and this car had been through several Nebraska hail storms, so it was in very poor condition.

We spent about two years putting this car back together.

The original builders were brothers Fred and Aubrey Burton of Alliance, Nebraska, who served in WW II, according to Fred’s son.

The Airplane Car is believed to have been built in 1947-1948.  Some old-timers claim that Fred and Aubrey drove this car around Nebraska for a while.  Fred’s son said these fellows loved airplanes.

Aubrey and Fred must have put in a ton of work, as the original fuselage – with sliding canopy (we were told) is from a PT13 or PT19.  The engine is an A65 Continental built from 1937 to 1946.  The frame is channel iron fabricated to fit the fuselage.  A handmade gravity fed gas tank is in the tail cone.  Front fenders and grille are from a 1936 Plymouth.  Custom made hood, axles are Ford 1939-40, tires are 16” military. 

We have redone most of the Burton brothers’ work, because things didn’t work too well, as is.  But this airplane cars works now and is a blast to drive.  Sure makes a lot of noise and doesn’t go very fast.

The wood propeller isn’t correct, it should be aluminum!  Do you have one?  We are still looking for items to add to this car so it isn’t finished!

BUT IT SURE IS FUN!!!!!!

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There is another room with a lot more things to examine, but the Airplane Car is a favorite.

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This is a fun museum and the people that run it are very friendly.  If you are in the area of Rapid City, this is really worth your time to visit.

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

3 Responses to Motion Unlimited–Rapid City, SD

  1. Kathy Sadler says:

    My grandpa was Aubrey Burton, his wife was Stacha. He died in the 1980’s and was quite the builder. As young kids we had much fun riding tricycles around the block with him in the lead, what fun times we had… Thank you for the article!!

  2. jimsgarage says:

    And thank you, Kathy, for your comment!

  3. Deb Trussell says:

    I am so thrilled to have been sent this article by my sister Kathy Sadler. I have several items that came from Grandpa Burton. I have the helicopter model he made and the blue prints to go along with it. If there is anything I can do and look for in his things to help with anything you are looking for, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am so thrilled to find any kind of information about Grandpa. He was an amazing man and won many awards for his inventions. Thank-you so very much for this article.

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