Dreams on display

The dark green Mercury draws the inspection of one couple and then favorable comments from some older teens.
The 1972 Cougar is one Wapakoneta native’s dream come true and now his dream car brings on-lookers such as those on Saturday at the second-ever KAPOW (Kids: A Priority of Wapakoneta) car show on the grounds of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.
In 1981, Charles Drexler bought the car from one of his friends. While the car was in nice shape, he started fixing it up every once in a while but more so after graduating in 1982.
“Every once in a while I would work on it,” Drexler said. “I built it the way I would have wanted it to look in high school — if I would have the money back then. I am always working on it when I can, making improvements as I go.”
He recently added 14-inch rims to fit size 50 tires with the help from those at RRR Tire and Service of Wapakoneta. At a past car show, he ran into a girl who had airbrushed the grim reaper on her t-shirt and he paid her to airbrush the image on his car’s hood.
“She did it just the way I wanted to it to be done,” Drexler said.
His Mercury Cougar also features a couple of cougar stuffed animals in the front seat and a carved wood cougar on the roof.
“I got the stuffed cougars as gifts — the kids love the animals and they want to hold them,” Drexler said. “I think they would rather look at the stuffed animals than the car.”
One thing has changed since the 1980s — ever since he fixed up his car, his driving habits.
“I drive it around a little, but I frequent only car shows around here because I don’t like to drive it too far,” said Drexler, who drives a smaller vehicle with better gasoline mileage to and from work.
He also frequents the Summer Moon Festival car show and others in Wapakoneta.
For another car enthusiast, it was his first time to enter his car into a show.
Lance Stahler, a member of the Wapakoneta High School class of 2011, said his father, Doug, got him interested in cars and attending car shows, but it was his grandfather who helped him with his first entry.
“My grandfather (Don Stahler) had two 1967 Mustangs he bought a long time ago and he always said when my brother, Landan, and I turned 16 that he would give us the two Mustangs and that is really how I got the Mustang,” Lance Stahler said. “My dad started saying we should start taking the Mustang to car shows and I just decided to take it to my first car show this weekend and this is the first trophy I have gotten.”
He received a trophy sponsored by KAPOW.
Lance Stahler said the car was pretty much finished when his grandfather gifted it to him, but he and his father put a new exhaust on it, cleaned up the engine and painted a few things on it for the first show.
Delmar Merricle, a member of the Wapakoneta Fire Department, crewed the retired fire Wapakoneta Fire Department fire engine, and Wapakoneta firefighter Doug Kill were on hand.
“It always goes well with the kids, but we had a lot of adults come up, too, and they are impressed with the old engine,” Merricle said. “They want to know the history of the truck and when it was taken out of service.
“The adults were coming up and looking at the truck,” he said, “and the kids have a ball getting up in the cab and pulling on the siren.”
The car show event, spearheaded by Gloria and Mike Goudy and other members, impressed KAPOW President Mark Selvaggio.
“The show is going great,” Selvaggio said with an hour left in the 6-hour show. “I am very impressed with the members of the KAPOW club pulling this off again because there is a lot to do and we don’t have a lot of members yet so everyone is pitching in.”
There were 75 cars entered, which marks an increase of 25 cars from last year’s inaugural event. The club president pointed out it was the first year they had a semi-truck, remodeled by John Doll, come to the show.
“We have had a steady flow of people and we have a flea market side so I hope they are doing well at selling their crafts,” Selvaggio said. “Overall, I am very pleased with how it turned out. The weather is great. The museum is great for letting us use the grounds so I want to thank Chris Burton and his staff and all the area business who sponsored the trophies and the door prizes.
“Hopefully the word will continue to spread and the car show will grow again next year.”