The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 28, 2013

Oddities and curiosities at inaugural car show event

Tractors, trikes at fundraiser for Sons of the American Legion

At a place where horsepower and paint jobs are like status symbols, Jim Killion's garden tractor is ... unique.

"I used to be into cars," the Mankato man said. "Then I started this thing."

This "thing" is a 1972 Ford Garden Tractor. But it's a long, long way from the way it looked, felt or operated when it left the factory. Killion has tricked it out to a such a degree that it's something of a sideshow at car shows or tractor shows, like the one he attended at Sibley Park Sunday.

The show was the inaugural attempt by the local Sons of the American Legion branch. They hope to make it an annual show. The group raises money for the families of veterans. Each year similar groups around the state and nation hold fundraisers to help families of veterans.

But back to Killion's tractor.

He picked it up in 2006 at the Auto Restorers Car Show and Swap meet in St. Peter. He took a look at the fat rear Firestone tires the previous owner put on it and got an idea.

"I just though I'd run with that idea," Killion said.

He tore the engine out and installed one from a 1971 Ford Pinto. He removed the side panels that would normally hide the engine so everything inside is displayed for all to see. He found a pair of muffler pipes off a Harley Davidson, and installed them to point to the sky. He moved the gas tank, too. Now the gas gets poured into a pony keg mounted on the front, just above a sign that reads, "Bad to the Bone."

It may look bad to the bone, but it still only goes a factory-ensured maximum of 6.5 mph. It's also missing a seat. Killion says he lost it on the way home from a tractor show. He said he forgot to properly fasten it down, and now the best he can figure is it's somewhere between Hastings and Mankato.

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