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Women on Wheels -Julie O’Hara Tronson, Crary ND

Women on Wheels -Julie O’Hara Tronson, Crary ND
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Dennis Gage happened to be in Devils Lake, ND the year I got my car finished, it was 2008. I was watching him from where I was sitting when he spotted my car. As Mr. Gage kept looking around for the owner he finally approached me and asked if it was my car. I answered “Yes.”  He said, “but, it’s your husband’s car” and I said, “No”. He said, “it’s your car?” and again I said ,“Yes.”  Mr. Gage asked one more time if it was my husband’s car and I looked at him and asked, “Do you see my husband sitting here?”  At that point he smiled and said “ok I get it, it’s your car.”  We went on to do an interview for My Classic Car of which I am very proud; oh, and now, with the Luck of The Irish, I call him Dennis O’Gage. 

 

Julie comes from a very large family. She has 12 siblings! Her brothers are the ones who got her interested in cars. “They always had hot cars!”  One had a GTO, another had a Trans Am, another brother had a Nova he raced and later he owned a Monte Carlo which Julie bought from him. Being girls Julie and I laughed as she remembered that in high school her boyfriend had a Chevelle SS, and she may have liked the car a bit more than she may have liked him. Julie was influenced by her brothers, their love of cars. The siblings all had to earn their own money, as their parents could not afford to support the cars. Julie said it was not necessarily old cars to begin with that brought her to the hobby, yet it was the old cars that held a place in her heart. Julie’s first car was a VW which had a sun roof and was the neatest thing she could drive.

Julie had purchased the Monte Carlo from her brother and it is what she took her through her college years. “While I did not do any of the work on my car, I did go through four summers during college working as a grease monkey in a couple of gas stations in Colorado and Bismarck. I learned to pump gas, clean windows, and do light mechanical work such as changing belts, oils, fluids, thermostats, tires and other minor engine repairs. So I did learn to turn a wrench and was never afraid to get dirty.” 

 

Then there is Julie’s very special Great Aunt Tressie, the original owner of the Belvedere. Seems Aunt Tressie’s license had been taken away from her as she got older due to her hitting too many trash cans in alley’s,  and yet  Aunt Tressie  continued to drive her ’52 Belvedere. At that time in history, it was a bit of an advantage to be living in a small town, everyone kind of looked the other way when they saw Aunt Tressie driving. After Aunt Tressie passed away Julie’s mom, Bernice,  purchased the ’52 Plymouth Belvedere and brought it home. Julie’s mom became the second owner. The car was in the family for several years and often Julie would ask her mother if she could buy it. One day, the question was asked to Julie, “Do you want to buy it?”, and of course the answer was “Yes!”.When Julie went to pick up the Belvedere there was no motor and no transmission. When she got it home she could not afford to do anything with it yet, so Julie parked it for several years. Julie became the third “family” owner. 

 

With the Luck of the Irish Julie found another Plymouth that she could use for parts so she put that motor and transmission into the Belvedere and got it running and she drove it for awhile. It still looked like a barn car with lots of old barn brush paint. Removing a quarter inch think paint of many layers was a challenge, and underneath they found the metal on the car was pretty sound except for the floor boards. The ’52 had “three on the tree, inline six stock”, and when she asked her husband, Rick, “if I paint it nice would you drive it?” Rick said, “No, I like my automatic, I like my air, I like my cruise”. So, after a few weeks Julie decided, she too, liked her automatic, liked her air, and liked her cruise and without telling Rick she took the car into Black Magic in Devils Lake and told them she wanted to customize her car. A few weeks later a friend stopped by the house and mentioned to them that he saw the car in the custom shop. Rick smiled, looked at Julie and said “I wondered when you were going to tell me.”  At that point it then became a topic of “not what it was, but of what it was going to be”. It took about six years to complete the project. This was Julie’s car, Julie’s project, Julie’s dream.

 

Over the six years a lot of things evolved with the car. It has a 318 Motor, a front end clip from an ‘81 Dodge Diplomat, ‘81 Dodge rear end, a 4 barrel Edelbrock carb-600CFI, a 727-TCI built transmission, and air and heat by Hot Rod air. The color is a custom blend Shamrock Green and custom blend Vanilla Shake White and appropriately named “The Luck of the Irish”.  At car shows, often those that love Chrysler’s seek her out. The two tone combination only happened in ’52. It is on the Belvedere Saddleback model. The trim that follows the Saddleback is also a true trim. Julie carries old advertising that shows the trim is in the original design, and the hardtop is original - she did not chop the post out. Julie also mentioned to the best of her knowledge there are very few ’52 Plymouth Belvedere Saddleback 2 door hardtop survivors. 

 

Julie works at Tronson Grain Company, their family owned business. She and Rick have two grown children who are in college. Their son Tucker loves old mustangs, and Alexa sometimes is her sidekick on the car cruises. When the kids were younger both Julie and Rick were involved with the many activities Tucker and Alexa participated in, and they volunteered often when needed. Julie has also served on the board, and as president, of a local non-profit association. 

 

“I have showed my car on my own as much as I could for a mother of two active kids. My husband is kind and supportive and has allowed me to follow my passion. I have made many, many lifelong friends in both the US and in Canada and I call them my car family. My husband knows now that I travel with people who treat me like family and that we look after one another, and he rarely has to worry about my well being.”

By the way, Rick was able to purchase back his old car from high school that long ago he had sold to friends and now both of Julie and Rick have their dream cars! 

The Luck of the Irish!