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Driving the past into the present at Troutdale Cruise-In

Rick Buck cruises into Troutdale in 1950s classics -

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A four-year veteran of the Troutdale Cruise-In, Rick Buck will display this 1958 Corvette alongside another classic car in his collection, a 1957 Pontiac Chieftain. OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - After the Cruise-in, Buck's 1958 Corvette will go back to the mechanic for a month of repairs. The first car Rick Buck ever loved was a 1952 Pontiac two-door coupe straight eight, which he bought for $57.

It was 1966 and Buck had just gotten his license. He had already owned other cars, but nothing like that first Pontiac. All of the money from his part-time job after school went to keeping the car running, or to purchasing glasspack mufflers and electric fuel pumps to add during auto shop. On Friday and Saturday nights, Buck and his friends would “drag the gut” through downtown Ashland, and ride out to the A&W, where waitresses on roller skates served burgers and fries through the car window. Then, the teens would drag the gut again.

When you’re 16, owning a car is “tremendous freedom,” Buck said.

Much has changed in the past half-century, but at the 13th Annual Troutdale Cruise-In, the cars have stayed the same. On August 7, Buck will ride around downtown Troutdale behind the wheel of his 1957 Pontiac Chieftain, alongside scores of other antique hot rods.

“The Cruise-In is just like reliving the past,” Buck said.

Buck, president of the Multnomah Falls Company, has taken part in the nostalgic event in Troutdale for four years. The company, which operates the historic lodge on the site of Oregon’s most famous natural wonder, recently became a sponsor of the Cruise-in.

The business opened decades ago, but it wasn’t until 1977 that Harold Buck, Rick’s father, took over and completely renovated the business. Rick plans to keep the tradition within the family, and invited his daughter, Jill, aboard as vice president in July.

In addition to the 1957 Chief, which won first place in the ‘55-’57 category last year at Gresham’s Rock Around the Block, Buck will enter what he calls a “barn find,” a 1958 Corvette he dragged out of a farmhouse in California. Buck anticipates that after the Troutdale show, the Corvette will need more than a month of restoration.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Buck polishes the air filter on the Corvette engine until it's so clean, you could eat off it.“It’s a beautiful car,” Buck said, “but it’s got a lot of issues.”

After he dropped the ‘Vette off at the mechanic, Buck headed to Boyd’s Coffee in Portland with his friends from the Troutdale show. When they pull up to the coffee shop in their classic cars, it’s like a car show in itself.

“It is a community,” he said, “in the sense that you go to these car shows and you see a lot of people that are friends of yours that you didn’t even know had classic cars.”

The Corvette and the Pontiac will be on display side-by-side. While the cars are a draw, Buck noted that you can find more than chrome and engines at a classic car show.

“They don’t all have to be zoom-zoom muscle cars, they can be an old four door sedan,” Buck said. “Just the fact that you have the opportunity to share these cars with the public. That’s what it’s all about.”OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Buck and his granddaughter Erin McGinnis must wear sunglasses in the presence of 'Rozie,' a 1958 Corvette Buck found in a farmhouse in California.