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A brother's car quest


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Ron Kinder, 71, of Muncie looks through old property records at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex. He's trying to track down a 1932 Ford Model B that he and his brother built in the 1950s. (Kristy Deer / Daily Reporter)
Ron Kinder, 71, of Muncie looks through old property records at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex. He's trying to track down a 1932 Ford Model B that he and his brother built in the 1950s. (Kristy Deer / Daily Reporter)

In a photo from the late 1950s or early 1960s, Ron Kinder lovingly polishes the finish on the 1932 Ford Model B. (Photo provided)
In a photo from the late 1950s or early 1960s, Ron Kinder lovingly polishes the finish on the 1932 Ford Model B. (Photo provided)


GREENFIELD — There is nothing like a sibling bond that can last for generations and motivate a family member to hang on to a piece of the past.

Back in the 1950s, when brothers Steve and Ron Kinder modified a 1932 Ford Model B sedan, it was a special time for the brothers.

Not only did they build a competitive drag racer out of the old sedan, it was a major project the Muncie brothers did together.

The car ended up being pretty special and was even sponsored by Muncie Dragway at the 1961 U.S. Nationals, Ron said.

Not long after that, Steve sold the car, and their brotherly collaboration was lost to history.

Now, more than 50 years later, Ron, 71, is trying to find the old drag racer in memory of his late brother.

 For the past four years, Ron’s search has come up empty. No one has been able to offer any clues about whether the car was sitting in a garage somewhere or, heaven forbid, had been scrapped.

“It’s been kind of a grueling thing and kind of an interesting thing,” Ron said.

His search led him to New Palestine, where the trail ends.

Ron said his brother sold the car in 1962 to a man named Marshall Miller of Connersville. Miller apparently raced the car for several years under the name of “Sugarbear.”

Miller then sold the car to John Graham of New Palestine in the late 1960s.

That’s all Kinder knows.

 “It’s been a long, long time, so the problem we’ve incurred is we’ve hit a dead end,” Kinder said. “We managed to trace the car to New Palestine where Graham is thought to have been employed in the meat department of an IGA Food Market there, but that’s it.”

Kinder recently made a trip to New Palestine, where he spoke with town officials, who unfortunately were not able to give him any further information other than Graham’s name.

“New Palestine officials, they were the ones who came up with the name of a John Graham,” Ron said. “Miller is the one who then told me he thought Graham worked at an old IGA store in New Palestine.”

Ron said Graham is believed to have a daughter living in the Greenfield area, but he isn’t sure of her married name.

“We’ve got bits and pieces of information, but no real answers,” Ron said. “We’re just going on the fact that Graham is the person who bought the car, and he lived in New Palestine.”

This week, like a genealogist tracking family history, Ron spent a morning at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex poring over records trying to find out where John Graham lived in New Palestine.

Ron was able to find out Graham might have lived across the street from the old IGA store on Main Street.   

“We think he lived in one of the old homes there,” Ron said. They were 17, 19 and 21 all on West Main Street”

The Southern Hancock School Corp. purchased the homes in 1990.           

While tracking down the car seems to be a bit of a long shot, Ron said he will not give up his quest. He said the car holds too much of a  special place in his heart, which is why he’d like to get it back into the family.

 “My brother built it and raced it,” Ron said. “We just want to find the car and buy it if we can and restore it if possible.”

The family knows a person, John Mann, who actually built a replica of Steve and Ron’s old Ford, but Ron won’t settle for anything less than the original.

If anyone knows where the car is or might be, Ron Kinder can be reached at (765) 808-0568 or (765) 284-4332 or via email at srkinder@att.net.

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