Tom Blackford owns a pretty sweet ride.

On Saturday morning, the Owensboro man rummaged around inside his 1952 Studebaker Champion, which was on display under a shade tree at the 13th annual Street Legends car show at Diamond Lake Resort.

Blackford bought the Studebaker in 2002 from the late George Robling, a friend who refurbished the car. The brightly colored rig features a killer paint job with flames across the hood and front fenders.

"(Robling) worked on it about five years," Blackford said. "When he got it done, he didn't want to drive it. He didn't want to get it dirty. His enjoyment was in building the car."

Blackford's enjoyment, on the other hand, comes from driving it. Robling rebuilt the car with a 305 high output engine from an '85 Monte Carlo.

How fast will it go? Blackford smiled and said: "The speed limit."

On the road, the Studebaker turns lots of heads.

"People don't say a word," Blackford said. "They give you that thumb."

Blackford, who owned Blackford's Automotive on Breckenridge Street for 35 years, owns another collector's dream: a white 1960 Thunderbird decked out in chrome.

When it comes down to it, though, the Studebaker is his favorite.

Monte McCoy of Richland, Indiana, drove his 1935 Chevy Standard over to the Diamond Lake car show.

"I drive it all the time," McCoy said of his classic car.

He and his wife drove it once to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. They vowed not to do that again.

Everything under the hood is original. The car tops out at about 50 mph, so the McCoys couldn't take interstates. Instead, they drove slow roads through the countryside.

Also, the engine barely chugged up some mountain roadways.

McCoy also owns a chocolate-colored 1953 Ford Crestline Victoria 50th anniversary edition. He bought it in the late '70s.

Through the years, he owned a lot of cars he wishes he'd kept, such as a '68 Chevelle, '55 Chevy truck, '64 Chevrolet Biscayne and a Ford Falcon Sprint.

He always liked cars. McCoy thinks his love affair with them may have started when he was 10. A neighbor owned a 1926 Model T.

"He'd let me get in there and sit," McCoy said.

His everyday car now is a 2005 Monte Carlo.

"It stays outside, and (the '35 Chevy Standard) stays in the garage," McCoy said, with a chuckle.

Branden Aldridge, 20, has been coming to the Street Legends car show for the past decade.

"I love it all," Aldridge said.

But his favorite model is a '77 Pontiac Firebird -- with a T-roof, of course.

"I look around every now and then, but they're getting harder to find," he said.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com.

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