By Kent Larsen
'Mormon Meteor' to Lead I-15 Opening Parade
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- One of the most famous cars in history will
lead a parade Saturday to open the finally-finished I-15 freeway in
Salt Lake City, but it won't be driven. The Mormon Meteor III, which
took its builder and owner, David Abbott (Ab) Jenkins II, to more
land speed records than any man in history, will be towed on a
flatbed truck at the head of the parade.
Utah's Department of Transportation decided to forego a
ribbon-cutting ceremony and inaugural drive by the Mormon Meteor III
on the newly-remodeled I-15, as some of the event organizers wanted.
Instead, a parade was scheduled to wind its way up one onramp, down a
new section of the freeway, and then down another onramp.
But the current owner of the Mormon Meteor III, Ab's son, Marv
Jenkins, refuses to be disappointed. He has spent more than 7,000
hours restoring the car after the state of Utah, who had been
entrusted with it before Ab's death, had neglected it. Marv also
spent countless more hours wresting control of the car from the state
so he could restore it.
He thinks it was worth it. A 1992 Motor Trend article called the car
the fourth most valuable car ever built, and one estimate places its
value at $5 million. But owning the car has its downside. Marv
Jenkins says he can only afford $50,000 of insurance on the car --
the amount he spent restoring it. He figures with the proceeds of the
insurance, if something happens, he could rebuild it again.
Jenkins may be able to exhibit the car at some events, and has been
invited to show it at the Indianapolis 500, where the car was a
regular feature in the 1940s. But the car is somewhat fragile, and
Jenkins can't afford the expense of getting it there. He has also
been invited to take the car, all expenses paid, to England for the
Goodwood Festival of Speed. "But they put the car on pallets and tie
it down in a cargo plane, and I wouldn't see it until I got to
England. With the fragile aluminum body I wouldn't leave it alone,"
he said. Instead he will show the car in Salt Lake City. "This was
Dad's home. It was what Dad wanted. Anything I can do to display the
car in Utah I will," he said. "I think it's something people should
know about but don't."
Mormon Meteor ready to ride again
Ogden UT Standard-Examiner (AP) 10May01 P2
Famed vehicle will be first car to travel "new and improved" Interstate 15 Saturday
Mormon Meteor III Restored