Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
An endurance run of classic Model Ts wraps up at a collection of other classic cars, the results of a collaboration between a German citizen and the residents of Rudyard. Michael Fleissner, a publisher who lives in Munich, Germany, said he will not be able to make it to the sneak preview of the Hi- Line Vintage Motor Museum in Rudyard Thursday, but he will be back soon for the museum’s grand opening on June 30 during the town's ingathering celebration. “I hope this whole venture gets the proper attention,” Fleissner said in a telephone interview from Germany this morning. “I hope more tourists come, and more business.” Cliff Ulmen of Rudyard said that is what they are hoping for. “We’d like to show anybody who wants to see it our museum and our car show,” he said. He said the museum now holds about 16 cars, ranging from a 1912 Studebaker to a 1966 model from up and down the Hi- Line. The Montana Model T Cross Country Association’s 500-mile endurance race ends today with a trip to Chinook, south to Cleveland and back to Havre, but will add on a drive to Rudyard Thursday. “I’m going to make them come up here go to the museum,” association member Doug Langel joked last week. The museum project, with Fleissner supplying the building and Rudyard residents supplying the remodeling, started with a road trip across the United States. “It’s an ongoing journey I have been taking for almost 15 years on the back roads of the United States, on two Harley (Davidson motorcycles) with a friend of mine,” Fleissner said. Last summer he was traveling with a friend from Hamburg, Germany, Georg Wedel, whose cousin, Bob Quinn, farms near Big Sandy. On the way to Big Sandy to drop off the Harleys, Fleissner said, they stopped at The Rudyard Depot Museum. “It was such a wonderful afternoon I felt we had to do something,” he said. “They put together such an amazing collection. It's a beautiful place and they did such an enormous job to bring history alive.” When he saw a building was for sale on the main street in Rudyard, and he had seen how many beautifully restored vintage cars were in garages in the area, “It came to mind it somehow comes together,” Fleissner said. He added that when he presented the idea to the Depot Museum board, they were very excited. Soon Fleissner had purchased the empty building and creation of the museum was under way. Fleissner has been back two or three times since then to help with the planning and organization. He said when he was back in March he was astounded with the progress the Rudyard volunteers had made remodeling and renovating the building. “Without this great enthusiasm and great support of this wonderful community this wouldn’t have happened,” he said. Ulmen said the volunteers worked hard to finish the job. “That’s what we’ve got in Rudyard is people working together,” he said. “We’re pretty proud of what we did. ” Langel, who was one of the volunteers, said mostly the work was done by retirees and car enthusiasts. “Just a bunch of old guys up here,” he said. Ulmen said the building, originally built by the Minneapolis Machine Co. Starting in 1947 and completed in 1949, also held a Chevrolet dealership for years. The building has been completely refinished, right down to old-fashioned black and white tiles on the floor. “We worked it all over inside; painted it and cleaned it all up, moved everything out, tiled the floor,” Ulmen said. Fleissner earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University and worked for the publishing company Simon & Schuster in the United States before moving back to Germany in 1988. He said he loves touring the back roads of the United States, but finds Montana to be a truly special place. “I have seen a lot of the beauty of the back country but Montana is the place that is the old country for nature, people, scenery,” he said. “ It’s just great to see how people help each other out and support everything.” He said he hopes the motor museum brings many people to the area. It all just seemed to come together, he added. “This building used to be a car dealership, so it fit perfectly the purpose,” Fleissner said. “For all the people who love cars and have restored cars, it’s a much better showroom than a garage.” The sneak preview begins at 11 a. m. Thursday.