Rod Reprogle will compete in his 200th car show in a 23-year period Saturday at the Blue Devil Show-N-Shine Benefit Car Show and Silent Auction, closing out his car show legacy, which currently stands at 190 wins and nine losses.
Reprogle, of Lebanon, is a tall, soft-spoken man who has spent much of his life behind the wheel of classic cars, displaying his passion for the steel, chrome, rubber and the history of American automobilia.
His den is full of automobile memorabilia, trophies, dash plaques, model cars, a red car telephone and a full-sized jukebox.
“My all-time favorite thing is my jukebox,” Reprogle said, although no one would know it by just taking a look around the room.
Reprogle won his first award in 1987 when he lived in California, an award that happened by chance.
“The first one I won, I was with somebody else, went in a nightclub there, and I set my ’57 Chevy out there,” Reprogle said. “And pretty soon they were having a car show, and a guy says, ‘Who owns the ’57 Chevy?’ and I said, ‘I do.’ And he said, ‘You just won best in show.’ I didn’t even know I was in the show.”
Reprogle smiled as he recalled trying to give the ’57 Chevy to his then 18-year-old son, who at the time didn’t want that car. It was the 80s when a teenager was looking to drive something cool, not something that could barely be considered classic.
“Things happen for a reason,” Reprogle said. “If he had taken that car, I would have never gotten into the sport.”
Reprogle’s cars have included a red 1929 Ford Model A, a black 1930 Ford street rod, a rose 1934 Ford three-window coupe street rod, a red 1953 Ford F-100 Custom truck, a red 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, a yellow 1957 Chevy Bel-Air and a red 2003 Chevy Silverado SS. Reprogle and his cars were featured in 34 magazines, calendars, television shows, 22 parades, countless fundraisers, and he even sold his 1929 Ford Model A to be used at Disneyland in Japan.
Reprogle, who retired after 26 years with McDonnell Douglas, an aerospace manufacturer and defense contractor that merged with Boeing in 1997, spends a lot time looking over all the reminders of his success and fun in the car world. Aside from his den, it is most appropriately his garage that speaks to who Reprogle is.
The walls are lined with dozens of photos of celebrities Reprogle has met or admires, cars he has owned and competed with, and magazines and calendars his car in which he has appeared. Most notably is Reprogle’s current beauty, a red 2003 Chevy Silverado SS with 78 wins and three losses. The paint, the tires and glass are all immaculate, and it sports the custom license plate RODSTOY.
On the back windshield Reprogle displays a memorial to his friend, Chris Price, who sold him the Silverado right before Price was killed in a motorcycle accident.
“That was a tough one for me,” Reprogle said, “We had just become good friends, and in fact I told him about a car show up here at the bank and he said he’d come up there with me, so he shows up on his motorcycle, and that’s one time I lost,” Reprogle said.
Reprogle, who never expected to get into car shows much less be around for 23 years, said he sees his last show as bittersweet, but he’s been honored to have had all of his experiences, having chronicled much of his collected knowledge in a book he published in 1995 titled “The Mother of All Car Books.”
Reprogle will be accompanied by his brother, Bob Reprogle, at his final car show, someone who has helped to make these car shows a success.
“He has been my helper for three years, getting the truck ready, getting it judged and helping me get things set up at the shows,” Reprogle said, “He drives in from Kentucky for every show the night before.”
The second-annual Blue Devil Show-N-Shine Benefit Car Show and Silent Auction will be Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon with an awards ceremony at 3 p.m. Registration is $20 with all proceeds going the Lebanon High School Band. The event will also feature a special display of cars on loan from Nissan and the Lane Motor Museum.
The 2019 Nissan Altima will be on display at the car show Saturday a full month before they start building them and two months before they go on sale.
Reprogle has made a name for himself around the world from falling into the car show scene by chance, but he’s stuck around because of his passion and drive. At 72 years old, nothing exemplifies Reprogle’s legacy better than his own slogan, “Not bragging, just proud.”