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Dahl's autos find new homes

Staff writer

When the plane that Don Dahl had fixed up turned sharply and crashed, taking his life, he left behind a legacy of community service.

He also left behind three classic automobiles: a 1936 International pickup truck, a 1969 Jaguar XKE, and a 1930 Chrysler CJ6.

Like his legacy, Dahl’s cars live on, and all three have found new owners.

Dahl’s brother Calvin remembers going with him to get two of those cars. Don would visit Calvin in Minneapolis, and they would go down to a place called “Hooked on Classics” in nearby St. Bonafacius, Minnesota.

The moniker didn’t lie — Don was hooked when he saw the ’69 Jaguar XKE convertible.

“He drove it back to Hillsboro,” Calvin Dahl said.

A year later, the Dahl brothers went back and found the CJ6.

“It had no rust on it,” Calvin Dahl said. “The farmer that had owned it in Minnesota, after he stopped driving it in the late ’30s or ’40s, parked it in a garage and dumped oil over the whole vehicle. It was in very good condition, with no dents or water holes.”

But Don’s first love was a family heirloom, the 1936 International truck, originally bought by his father Abraham Dahl, who was unable to restore it. Don wanted his father to be able to drive it, but Abraham died the same year he started fixing it.

Two of Don’s main co-workers in his restoration exploits were his brother-in-law Clyde Schroeder and good friend Jerry Dalke, both of whom have passed away.

Schroeder had helped Don Dahl put the CJ6 together. Schroeder’s daughter Jana used the car in her wedding, said Sharon Schroeder, Don’s sister.

Dalke and an identical twin brother, Larry, grew up on the same block as Don.

“They were cradle babies,” Violet Dalke said when asked about her husband’s friendship with Don. “They grew up on Adams Street in Hillsboro.

“They would go to auctions together. The three of them had equally as much stuff.”

Larry Dalke died in 1999.

Larry was into furniture restoration, which Don also dabbled in.

“He had collectibles, furniture, clocks, cars, all kinds of things like that,” Don’s sister Dorothy said. “Don really had a passion for it, he just loved to do that kind of thing.”

After Larry’s death, Jerry and Don became closer, Violet said. Jerry died in 2010; he and Violet had been married just 10 years.

“It’s been a horrific experience to lose those guys,” Violet Dalke said. “They were too young to die.”

Dahl’s cars, however, live on.

International

The truck was donated to the city of Hillsboro, where museum board member Richard Dirks is helping to restore the car. Dirks said the board is trying to get a building to display it in, along with two other classic cars the city owns.

“It’s painted nice, painted red, it looks good,” Dirks said. “But you’ve got to get it running before you can display it.”

Dirks is currently waiting on a fuel pump to continue with the restoration process.

Jaguar

The Jaguar XKE was bought in an auction a few weeks ago by Lowell D. Unruh of Hesston.

“I’m a streetrodder,” Unruh said. “My wife always wanted an XKE Jag, so I ended up getting this sucker.”

The car is primed for re-painting, and the frame of the car is complete, but the upholstery is currently out of it. Unruh said the car was in “boxes and boxes” when he got it. He added that he thinks by the middle of next year it will be finished.

“It’s got a ways to go,” Unruh said. “I plan on restoring it and fixing it up to its original condition and keeping it for a long time. My wife says it isn’t going anywhere, and ‘when you finish it, it’s going to stay here until I die.’”

Chrysler

At the same auction, Willard Harms of Peabody purchased the 1930 Chrysler CJ6 sedan. It’s his third old car, in addition to a 1924 Model T Roadster and a 1942 Studebaker.

“It’s pretty well restored,” Harms said of the Chrysler. “I just like to hoot with them old cars.”

Harms is a farmer, worrying more about soybean harvest than car repairs for the moment, so he bought the more completed of the two cars.

“It’s just an old one,” he said. “It attracts me.”

The Chrysler was Don Dahl’s most finished product, which according to his brother, was what he liked about the process the most.

“The end product is what he really enjoyed seeing,” Calvin said. “That Chrysler came out better than it did out of the factory.”

Last modified Sept. 24, 2014

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