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Serving the tri-county area of McLeod, Wright, and western Carver
Machemehls enjoy 'Jeepster'
By Ryan Gueningsman
The Jeepster was only made from 1948 to 1950, and there are about 450 left in circulation. Ralph and Donna Machemehl of Lester Prairie own one of those.
Jeep made the vehicles after World War II, and according to Ralph, "no two were made alike. They just used extra parts off the shelf."
During that era, Jeep thought that was "the way to go," when it came to making cars for the future," he said. "Ford came out with a better overall car, and the Jeepster concept wasn't acceptable anymore."
The Machemehls bought their Jeepster from Reggie (Hausie) Hausladen's widow Helen in 1992. Up until that point, the Hausladens had put 1,200 miles on it in 30 years.
There are now about 62,000 total miles on the vehicle now, Ralph said.
"That car has been in Lester Prairie since 1962," Ralph said.
One of the main differences between a Jeepster and other cars of the era are the windows, which sit in place, rather than roll up and down. Ralph still has the original case for his windows.
When the vehicle gets to 30 miles per hour, it shifts into another gear that lowers the RPMs.
Members of the
In addition to owning their Jeepster, Ralph and Donna are also members of the Jeepster Association.
"We've been members for quite awhile, but we went to our first rally this spring," Donna said. The rally took place in Nebraska.
People came with their Jeepsters from all across the country. Not all members of the association bring their cars to the rally; some just come to look at other people's cars and enjoy the fellowship.
The Machemehls put their Jeepster in a trailer and drove it down there with their truck, rather than driving the Jeepster the whole way down to Nebraska.
"Before the rally, it had never been driven more than 20 miles to Hutch," Ralph said. The trip to Nebraska was also the first time that the Jeepster was out in the rain.
"We were visiting Pioneer Village, and were on the way back. We got about five miles out and it started pouring," Ralph said. "We quick stopped and put the top on. It wasn't too bad, but it did get wet."
While at the rally, the group also took a tour of a Case and Holland plant and visited the first Cabela's store.
"It's not a young group either," Ralph said. "People don't always have time for these things."
The next Jeepster rally was Sept. 19 through 21, but the Machemehls were unable to attend because they were in Germany at the time.
Ralph and Donna have also asked to sponsor a rally here in Minnesota, but the rallys are booked through 2006.
It's a true original
It wasn't until the couple was at the rally that they realized how "original" their Jeepster was.
"The motor has been overhauled, but the top, seats, and even the floor mats are original," he said.
There is one panel by the driver's door that looks like it had been replaced at some point, Ralph said.
While in the Machemehls' possession, the couple has used the Jeepster primarily for parades in connection with the business they operated and for country driving. Ralph and Donna owned and operated the Mobile Station in Lester Prairie for 28 years.
"It's a lot of fun and a great conversation piece," Ralph said.
While at the rally, Ralph and Donna met a man who had traveled the famed Route 66, as well as taken a road trip all the way up to Alaska.
"So that's what we're going to do too," Donna said with a smile.
"Not with the one that I've got," Ralph said back with a laugh.
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