MINAR FORD





Updated 5/1/12

A Coralsnake contributor tracks down one of the original Shelby dealers....

This story was written by Robert Cassling with assistance from Cushman Minar Jr.



Minar Ford was located 1708 Central Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The history of the dealership spanned almost 85 years.

A young Cushman Minar, age 19, (pronounced Minor) and his brother Horace purchased their first Ford dealership in western Minnesota in 1917. By 1929 Cushman and Horace had acquired their first franchise in Minneapolis (The Minar Company) on 18th and Central Avenue. About a year later, Horace opened a second franchise on Lake Street, during which time their other operations were sold. Horace died in 1949 and his franchise was sold. Cushman owned and operated the Central Avenue location until 1966 when he joined forces with his son, Cushman Jr. (Cush) and a partner Ken Gregory. They created a new Ford dealership, Minar Ford Incorporated. Cushman Sr. participated for only a few months before retiring, but long enough to allow them to advertise the new Minar Ford franchise as a continuously operating dealership dating back to 1917.





This license plate topper was probably used in the 1940s. These pre-date license plate frames.







From Left to right: Sales Manager Bob Agnew, Ken Gregory and Cushman Minar, Junior in 1969.





Cush became a Shelby dealer in mid 1967 and sold Shelby’s thru Minar Ford’s original location at 18th and Central Avenue in Minneapolis. Prior to 1968, Tousley Ford was Minnesota's Shelby dealership. It is unknown why the franchise change occurred. Both dealerships still operate today. Cush has great memories of the high performance scene during the late 1960’s, “It was a great time to be in the car business”. He met Carroll Shelby a couple of times. He remembers that Carroll had great chili, both mild and HOT. Cush said, “I tried the hot and equated it to about 40,000 volts”.



Bob sent along the 1967 Twin's schedule, courtesy of Minar.




During the late 1960's Ford used it's winning GT40 race cars to promote the brand. Cush recalls the tour. We able to display it at several locations around the twin cities at different events. We drove it (basically revving the engine) at the Twin's Game. I drove the GT40 on the street several times, basically playing with it. GT40’s were not vehicles that could be sold at that time through franchise dealer. If I recall it had a red line around 10,000 RPM out of a 289 block but best not to quote me on that it’s 43 years ago. At one point the powerplant spoke to Cush. He could resist no more. He began racing the GT40 on the Minneapolis streets. The police were in hot pursuit. He slammed on his brakes causing them to shoot right by him. He said that the GT40 could stop as quickly as it could accelerate. It turned out that the policeman knew him, shook his head, and left without issuing a ticket. But, that might not be the best thing to mention, Cush said. I think the statute of limitations is up on that one :-)


A check of the 1997 Shelby American World Registry does not mention the GT40 tour stop in Minneapolis.


# 2524 is one of a handful of black, GT500 KRs. It was sold new at Minar and this picture is before a concours restoration.







Here is the same car after the restoration. This beautiful car won three national championships in one year. That is referred to as the "triple crown".






Minar sold several convertibles, so we can't say for sure, which car this was...




Cush recalled on another occasion, his “boys” took a basically stock 1968 KR to the Brainerd International Raceway and supposedly hit a top speed of 172 MPH. Boys will be boys. [Brainerd Raceway was operated by Jerry Hansen. You may know Jerry's daughter, Courtney Hansen, from Spike TVs Powerblock program]


He has another story about driving a KR fastback from Grand Rapids Michigan to Minneapolis, and on a long straight stretch, chirped the tires at 40mph, passing thru a long line of cars, and blew the doors off a challenging Chevy at 135 MPH.


This advertisement is from 1968.




A quick count of the Registry shows Minar sold approximately 50 1968 Shelbys. According to Cushman Minar the dealership's records were destroyed. Cushman also said they only put Minar stickers on the cars, not emblems. The dealership sold three special paint cars, all were yellow.


One of the more interesting stories from 1968 was the fact the dealership loaned several cars to Playboy. These cars were shipped to the Playboy mansion in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, approximately 250 miles away. These cars had no special markings or colors. The cars were sold as used vehicles at the conclusion of their tour. Cushman said he has no recollection of the Playboy cars.




# 2755 was a convertible supplied by Minar to Playboy.



GT350 # 3088 was sold new at Minar. Originally painted Highland Green, the car is now black. It is one of the Playboy cars. It's been sporting the 1967 hubcaps for a long time.







This black GT500 KR is ready to race. Jim sent me the picture of the car not too long after it was sold new at Minar. It has been identified as # 3400.


# 3989 recently got a full restoration after years of abuse. If this picture is any indication, I am quite sure the car is beautiful.




# 4007 was very original when I snapped this picture. Most of the photos I took were detail shots.




Keith's car is # 3649. It was sold new at Minar and he can account for all the history.



This photograph reads "To Cush, your Cobra friend, Carroll Shelby"




In 1969, Cush went on a trip sponsored by Carroll Shelby. He had a choice of attending Superbowl 3 (Jets vs. Baltimore) or going to Las Vegas. He picked Las Vegas because the dealership needed to pick up a car in Nevada.


For several years Minar sponsored a race car at the Minnesota State Fair. Minar also sponsored several local independent vehicles and drivers.





Minar Ford remained at its original location of 1708 Central Avenue in Minneapolis until 1972. By 1972, during a time of increasing governmental and insurance industry pressure, Cush chose to phase out his high performance business, allowing him to focus more on retail cars and trucks. He also concentrated on commercial and fleet sales, as well as wholesale parts. This photo was taken in May of 2012. At this time, the building was vacant.




Minar's new facility was in the Minneapolis/St Paul suburb of New Brighton, about five miles away from the original location. It expanded the dealership from about 18,000 square feet to 56,000 + square feet on about 8 acres. Cush said that it was quite a blessing to have everything at one location and under one roof. Minar Ford was sold in 2002 and became New Brighton Ford.


Cush had a brief fling with a Chrysler dealership. He sold it after a few years, as he didn’t like them. “I am a Ford Man”, Cush said.





If you have anything associated with Minar Ford please contact me. If you see a Minar decal, information on the sponsored cars or anything else that can be added to the story, I would be happy to add it.