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If you prefer a car that's built, not bought, if "function before fashion" describes your automotive philosophy and you're into customizing pre-1975 vehicles, you might be a candidate for the Frankensteiners Car Club - if you could get in. The three-year-old club has a waiting list of about 50 people because club leaders don't want it to grow too fast, and nobody joins without approval from all 40-plus club members.

Started by "three guys with junk cars," according to member Zach Kurth, the club has a simple objective: gather with your car, truck or motorcycle, have a good time and, of equal importance, be seen. "We get together at a house or a show, somewhere our cars will be seen in public," notes Kurth, who adds that driving their vehicles and having fun are essential for club members. "The last thing we want to do is make it into work," he says.

The club currently has two car shows, some simple "rules," and members who are really into building cars. The rat rod vehicletotal for members is around 60 and the club currently has 10 "builds" of "new" vehicles in progress. Many are customized pre-1940 cars with a small-block Chevy V-8. They're "bare-bones, low-budget hot rods made as safe as possible," Kurth says.

The following three items encapsulate the Frankensteiners:

Does your car have torn upholstery? "Cover it with a blanket and call it good," explains Kurth, whose chopped 1931 Ford Model A has lawn chairs for seats and an interior featuring outhouse paneling. "The idea is to enjoy the car hobby for $3,000 or $4,000, not $30,000 or $40,000."

An article on the club in the March edition of Ol' Skool Rods magazine notes that club members think "there is no better feeling than taking parts that clearly don't belong together and making them mesh."

Members lower, chop and channel cars to produce, as club president Tim Jewett says, something "loud, low and fast, a cool rod that turns heads."

The club doesn't charge dues, so its Spring Melt Down will raise funds for its fourth Frankensteiners Ball in October. Last year's family-oriented Ball drew 425 cars. (The Melt Down is May 31 at the Elk River Broadway Pizza and goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; it features live music, trophies and a burnout contest. Cars pay $5, spectators are free.)

The club's rules, by the way, are: have a pre-'75 vehicle, help put on the Ball, display the club's name on your car and attend at least one weekend activity a month. With "90 percent helping when someone's car needs work," Kurth says, members find the last rule easy to meet. For more on the club, visit