Powell family shares a love of classic cars

Carla Wensky, Powell Tribune photo Gary, Samantha, Nate and Donna Cole stand with two of the family’s classic pickup trucks. Each family member owns a classic vehicle, from cars and trucks to motorcycles.

POWELL — The Cole family has a love of classic cars, pickups and motorcycles that now spans a generation. 

It was shortly after Gary and Donna Cole married, in the late 1990s, that Gary bought a 1987 Dodge D150 half-ton pickup. Donna, meanwhile, bought a 1966 Dodge Coronet 440 before the birth of the couple’s first child, Nate Cole. It was parked for about 15 years, and then when Nate turned 14 or 15, he bought it from his parents. 

The engine had been replaced — Nate thinks it came out of a 1976 Chrysler — but it didn’t run. The teen started working, got it running and now maintains it. 

“There was a lot of tuning,” Nate said. 

As anyone with a sweet ride like that would, Nate has pushed the vehicle’s speed to see what it can do. He’s not sure how fast he’s gone in the muscle car. “The speedometer goes to 120, and I’ve had it past that. So I don’t know,” Nate said. 

“I’ve probably gone that fast, too,” Donna adds. 

The Coronet 440 was the middle trim level of Dodge’s fifth-generation 1966 line. It remains a prize collector’s piece. 

“I like the style. I like the big engine,” Nate said. “It’s just a fun, cool car, and very comfortable to drive.” 

When Nate finished college a couple years ago, he had a bit of extra time on his hands. So, he decided to make a new project out of a 1966 Dodge D100 pickup. 

“When I was little I would watch all the old Dodge commercials on the internet,” Nate explained. “I always loved the pickups in the commercials for this year.” 

When he spotted a D100 for sale in Huntley, Montana, he jumped at it. The truck’s body was in good condition, but it wasn’t running. Nate swapped the engine out and did a lot of other work. Now it runs just fine. 

The body has the hallmark “sweptline” down its side, a valued feature for those who collect cars of the era. 

“I was pretty happy to find it,” Nate said. 

His latest toy is a 1976 Honda Elsinore 250 motorcycle, which he’s had less than a month. He bought it from a couple in Cody. 

“They’re kind of tough to find,” Nate said. 

The youngest Cole, Samantha, has also joined in the family’s classic car collecting. A couple years ago, she got a 1981 Jeep J10 pickup.

Her father had scoped it out a few years back, but decided not to snatch it up. So, eventually it ended up in Samantha’s hands. 

She named it Freddie, after Freddie Mercury, the iconic vocalist for the classic rock band Queen.

“This was my first love as a truck, and Freddie Mercury was the first true rock band I fell in love with,” Samantha said. 

She’s done some work on the Jeep herself, including replacing the grill. It was green before, and she replaced it with a black one. The pickup also had a flatbed. She got rid of that and put the original bed back on. 

“It’s super reliable and always gets me from point A to point B,” Samantha said. 

Gary said his 1987 Dodge D150 has also been a reliable vehicle, requiring very little maintenance. He’s also had a 1975 Kawasaki Z100 for about 15 years. 

“It was a very iconic bike in its day,” Gary said, and set multiple speed records when it first came out. 

He likes to take the motorcycle up into the Beartooth and Bighorn mountains, especially on drives to Red Lodge, Montana, and Shell. 

The Coles haven’t entered car shows. They’re not as much into showing them off as they are enjoying the rides. 

“We just drive them and have fun,” Gary said.