COON RAPIDS, Minn. – A Minnesota woman with a fondness for her teenage ride is back in the driver’s seat after finding the rusting ’48 Plymouth behind a shed in North Dakota.
“I guess I was in shock for most of that day,” Beth Boatz said of her reunion with her high school and college car.
After months of restoration, last week Boatz rode from the church with her new husband on her wedding day in the backseat of the Plymouth.
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“I don’t mind being second,” said Beth’s husband, Andy Hybben. “I love the car and I love Beth.”
Boatz’s uncle purchased the Plymouth Special Deluxe brand new, then drove it for years before giving it to the Boatz family in Humboldt, Minnesota, when Beth was 12 years old.
Boatz and her siblings nicknamed the car “The Bomb.” In keeping with the time, Boatz’s sister Mary affixed flower decals to the dinged and tarnished paint job.
“We could pile about 10, 12 kids in the backseat, no problem,” Boatz laughed. “Everybody, every friend, every relative, every neighbor loved that car.”
Boatz took the car to college, eventually giving it to a friend.
Years later, Boatz would tell her then-fiancé Hybben about her fondness for The Bomb.
“I told him all about this car, you know, this wonderful car, and he suggested one day, ‘You know, why don't we go try to find it?’ And I said, ‘We'll never find it.’”
Boatz was proven wrong after finding her college friend’s phone number in an old address book, placing a call to North Dakota and learning the car – though in rough shape – still existed.
“Just unbelievable,” Boatz said. “The friend I gave it to, I just never thought he would have kept it all those years, and then to find it still intact, I mean, they still had all the pieces to the car.”
Boatz and Hybben drove a truck and trailer to North Dakota to retrieve the Plymouth. She was surprised to find in the tattered interior, some of her things still in the glove box.
“I was shocked, to say the least," Boatz said. "I just couldn’t believe anything would still be in there after so many years."
Boatz found a shop to restore the Plymouth’s body, while she bought an upholstery machine and sewed the interior herself.
Boatz’s sister, Mary Motschenbacher, helped reinstall the car’s newly polished chrome.
Motschenbacher, like her sister, learned to drive in the Plymouth and said the car feels like an old friend. “We couldn't tell you about our other cars that we owned but we could tell you a lot about this,” Motschenbacher said.