Draper's Car Guys 18

Vintage Automobiles Rev Up the Locals

Sparkly the Stand Out

Like an old friend, Don Bartholomew’s 1964½ Ford Mustang coupe rolls into an auto show on a first-name basis with everyone.


Sure, the name is on the customized license plate, but the Mustang’s dazzling coloring—black with multi-colored metal flakes—makes it a recognizable showstopper.

“At first I didn’t like the paint job,” says Bartholomew when he bought the car over a decade ago. “But it grew on me and I am glad it did.”  In sunlight, the paint flakes reveal a rainbow of colors. A ghostly image of a stallion on the hood adds yet another dimension of sparkle.

Sparkly was one of the first coupes to roll off the Mustang assembly line on April 17, 1964. Back then new cars came out in October. The Ford Company, anxious to show off their new model, put the Mustang out six months earlier, and tagged it the 1964½.

The Mustang is the original pony car—compact, affordable and sporty. In the first two years of production, Ford sold over a million of them. “It was called a secretaries car. The reason why was because secretaries in the country could afford this nice, little sports car.”

Bartholomew’s garage walls are lined with dozens of local and national awards, certificates and trophies—all honoring the modified Mustang.

“This is my favorite thing of all,” he says, opening the hood to reveal a grille medallion presented to him by the Mustang Club of America. The medallion is awarded based on points given for first place (two points) and second (one point) at national shows. Bartholomew attended 14 national shows to win the award.

“This is the only car in Utah that has one,” he says.

With 132,000 miles, Sparkly still has incredible pickup as well as a flawless interior. Bartholomew, a self-described old cruiser, finds joy on Saturday drives and cruising with fellow members of the Northern Utah Mustang Owners Association.

There’s only one thing that slightly concerns him about Sparkly—its legacy.

“I made the mistake of telling my first grandson, when he was 10, that when I pass away, this will be his car. So every time I take it to a show or wherever, and he happens to be around, he says, ‘Now Grandpa, you be careful with my car.’”

At the time, he only had that grandson. Since then more have arrived onto the scene…all with their eye on Sparkly.

The German Bubble Car

If you’ve seen Andrew Howell buzzing about Draper in his three-wheeled 1956 Messerschmitt consider yourself lucky.

This bright red bubble car is one of three Messerschmitts in Utah…and the only one that runs.

“Everyone smiles when they see it,” says Howell, “and then they wonder what in the world it is.”

The car resembles a vintage aircraft cockpit with a transparent acrylic bubble top (hence the nickname “bubble car”), a tandem seat and a steering wheel built like an airplane yoke. The narrow body tapers, resembling an airplane fuselage.

“In German it is called kabinenroller, which means ‘scooter with a cabin’,” says Howell.

The quirky vehicle was designed by a German aircraft engineer who sought to build an affordable, fuel-efficient car for post-war Europe. Howell says the car is reported to get 89 miles per gallon, but he hasn’t tested that yet since he only drives around town.

Howell searched a long time for a bubble car. Finally, he spotted one for sale on a Messerschmitt Internet forum.

“My wife said, ‘Go for it!’ so I did,” says Howell. He rented a truck, drove to California and bought the car from an aircraft mechanic, who had stored it in an airplane hanger—unused—since 1991. It had only 12,000 miles on it.

The car’s body looked good, but some parts, including the fuel system, plastic trim and seat upholstery, had deteriorated. He and his three sons, ages 22, 19 and 16, worked in stages, taking photos of each part in order to remember how to reassemble it. It took over a year to refurbish. Additional help came from other Messerschmitt owners and parts came from Germany and the U.K.

Now, the bubble car is almost finished and Howell no longer worries about stopping on the side of the road to fix it.

“It’s just fun to drive. It is low to the ground and corners really nicely,” Howell says. “And I just like the look of it.”

A Trio of Classics

Barry Skinner, a Draper resident since 1965, likes collecting vintage things. He collects old oilcans, wooden crates, antique tractors and most notably, three classic cars.

“They’re a good investment,” he says. “Better than the stock market.”

Sitting pretty in his garage is his 1956 Ford Thunderbird, painted a light avocado color, a shade that didn’t win over buyers in the 1950s. “Guys didn’t like the color, but women did,” he adds. The beauty has a porthole window on its white removable hardtop as well as whitewall tires and spoke rims, which Skinner says are the hardest parts to clean.

Then there’s the 1963½ Ford Galaxie 500 XL, his favorite car because of its pristine condition—an original interior, original turquoise paint and an odometer that just barely turned.

Lastly, there is his 1952 Grand War Jeep with its M100 trailer and original Army color and emblems. A standard-issue axe and shovel remain attached to the side of the vehicle. Driving it around town isn’t easy. “The ride is choppy, and downhill with a tailwind you might get 50 miles per hour out of it,” Skinner says, noting he never takes it on a freeway.

Skinner estimates that he’s owned and loved some 100-plus cars in his life. He shows them off in his photo album: a 1973 Mach 1, a 1972 Mustang Convertible, a 1976 Lincoln Continental, a red 1955 Thunderbird and a 1969 Mach 1—his wife, Caralee’s favorite.

But Skinner does more than show off his cars in albums or at local parades and car shows. His cars have jobs.

All three made appearances in BYUtv’s production, “Granite Flats,” a Cold War drama set in the 1960s.

A U.S. Army veteran who was stationed in Germany from 1959-62, Skinner displays his Jeep and military memorabilia at Veteran’s Day celebrations and in local classrooms. For the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he took a Draper boy and his mom—decked out in Army helmets—on a Jeep ride in the foothills.

Whether vintage or new, Skinner’s life has always appeared to pivot around automobiles in significant ways. After high school and his tour of duty in Germany, Skinner returned home and he and Caralee discussed marriage. The two obstacles, he told her, were a good car and a good job. The bride-to-be, anxious to move things along, loaned her fiancé the money to get a car, a 1964 Ford. A job at Kennecott—where he worked for 35 years—quickly followed, as did their marriage.

“My wife tells everybody the only reason I married her was to get the car.”