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Not your classic car show: Hearses, ambulances highlight Minnesota meet


There are common favorites for classic car lovers: the '71 Oldsmobile or the '67 Camaro; the Shelby GT and old Dodge Charger.

But those flashy cars aren't the types of vehicles you'd find in Rochester, Minnesota this past week.

Instead, you'd see wheels like the 1916 Northwestern Studebaker (a hearse), or the 1958 Cadillac Miller-Meteor (an ambulance), proudly put on display by their owners.

The southern Minnesota city hosted the Professional Car Society's 38th annual international meet this past week, as lovers of livery vehicles, flower cars, funeral hearses and more celebrated their passion.

The group met in Rochester Tuesday, went on a Mississippi River Valley Tour Wednesday (with stops in Kellogg, Wabasha and more) then road tripped to Austin Thursday. Friday was spent in Rochester, and the meet will wrap up with a car show and daylong "Show and Shine" event in the city Saturday.

Flickr user Matthew Taylor has photo albums from each day – the vehicles nearly spotless, chrome features shining bright and clean paint catching the eye. The society also has a message forum, where members are posting photos and thoughts from the meet.

It's a return to the North Star State for the group – the Rochester Post-Bulletin notes the Twin Cities hosted the event in 1996.

"The small-but-vibrant city of Rochester ... struck us as an ideal place for a professional car meet, thanks to its relaxed vibe and rich medical history as the Mayo Clinic’s home town," Meet Co-Chair Tony Karsni said in a statement.

Rochester was picked partly to honor the 25th anniversary of the group's Northland Chapter as well, he said.

Karsnia also spoke with the Austin Daily Herald as the caravan drove through town.

“Our car club is unique,” he told the paper.

The vehicles are driven to the meet by their owner – one man, a funeral director, drove his 1995 S&S Cadillac Hearse up here from St. Louis, the paper reports.

If you live in Rochester, a heads-up: The event concludes with a "light and sound" show in the Ramada Hotel parking lot Saturday evening, featuring beacons and sirens.

Features most of those Dodge Chargers and '71 Oldsmobiles usually lack.

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