RANGELY I Over the past two years, Rangely locals have watched the construction process of Bud Striegel’s automotive museum, wondering at the cars and marveling at the Stonehenge replica in the parking lot. Finally, after a long wait, the Rangely Automotive Museum is opening its doors today.
Regular hours will be on Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. The museum asks for a $5 donation to view the collection, however the museum is happy to welcome for free those that can’t afford the cost. A grand opening is planned for May 28.
The classic cars found inside Rangely’s new hot spot are sure to impress even the most avid of classic car enthusiasts. Striegel keeps an average of 35 cars on the show floor, rotating them in and out with others in his collection, and he has a story to tell about each car.
A beautifully restored Pierce motorcycle is the first conveyance visitors catch a glimpse of upon entering the museum. Made for only a short period from 1909-1912, these bikes are considered exceedingly rare with only approximately 12 believed to be left in existence. At an original cost of $390, these bikes were more expensive than most cars at the time.
The Pierce is only one of several motorcycles on display. Striegel also has a 1907 Indian motorcycle. With no clutch or brake included in this model, they were considered exceptionally dangerous and were often used for racing.
Striegel clearly loves each of the cars, and he has a story to tell for almost each one, including a McFarlan, once owned by Warner Brothers Studios and used in numerous movies. It is one of several chauffeur-driven cars found in the museum.
He proudly displays his 1930 Franklin, which has a long history of being used by several of the world’s wealthiest to tour Europe in the 1930s.
Another unique find is one of the first electric cars, circa 1927. Striegel happily quips that it got around 50 miles to a charge, which is “not much less than they do today.”
Striegel began collecting cars at only 12 year of age when he was motivated by the inexpensive cost. He remembers cars costing as little $2 at the time, often purchasing them with the earnings he made from selling pop bottles to the local bar.
“When (a car) broke down, we just left it where it was and started picking up more bottles; it was a good time to be a kid,” he said.
After developing his love of cars, Striegel was inspired to try fixing them up. He quickly discovered that wool Army blankets were a cheap substitute for upholstery and that a car could be painted with the equipment normally used to spray DDT.
Striegel is hopeful that the museum will offer a financial boost for the town and become a destination for tourists, with the long-term goal of being the “neatest thing on this part of the Western Slope,” he said.
Locals and visitors will find more than just the cars enjoyable.
The building itself incorporates local history and is, by Rangely standards, full of grandeur.
The door handles on the entrance were taken from the old Rangely High School when it was demolished decades ago. And from the white marble floors shined to perfection to the ornate oversized doors, the building far surpasses anything else found in town.
The talk of the town for more than a year now, a Stonehenge replica sits in the parking lot, greeting visitors and guests. Striegel hopes it will help draw people into the museum.
He had the rocks brought out from Fort Collins for his version of one of the eight wonders of the world after determining that the local sandstone was far too soft.
“I’ve dug them, dynamited them and worked with rocks my whole life, now I can decorate with them,” he said.
However, Striegel still doesn’t see the museum as complete as he envisions more landscaping in the parking area and some wording on the rock wall sitting on the corner.
Whatever language is being decided on for the wall, Striegel is convinced it must welcome people to Rangely and make the town look good.
The Rangely Automotive Museum is sure to be a busy place for some months as locals and visitors alike travel through to see the beautiful building and shiny cars while hearing the stories of the man who brought them all to Rangely.