Cool Collections! Larry Olson’s Dakota Dream Machines
Above photo: This hot-licked trio includes the AMBR-winning ’33 Ford roadster built by Bobby Alloway, a ’33 Vicky bought from Dale Boesch and finished by Kevin Bowman using a Bobby Alloway chassis, and a ’40 Ford built by Bowman using a Danny Tesar chassis.
“I love ’em too much. It’s a disease, you know.”
Larry Olson was only partially joking when he said that about the hot rods and vintage cars he’s amassed in his South Dakota-based collection. With more than 40 vehicles spread across two large commercial buildings near Sioux Falls, it would be easy for an outsider to consider Larry’s old car habit an affliction. If it is, there are plenty of rodders around the country who happily share it.
Larry is a South Dakota native who has spent most of his life in the Midwest. Some of that time was in Minnesota and Kansas City as Larry built a career selling Peterbilt trucks. He moved back to the Sioux Falls area more than two decades ago and built his hobby shops on land he’d been fortunate enough to acquire. One building has a work area and includes two lifts and other helpful equipment. The other is primarily for storage and incorporates a private bar and lounge area where Larry and his wife, Carol, can relax and entertain friends.
Larry says he’s been into hot rods since the 1970s and has owned a string of them that’s almost too long to list. Rodders may recall Larry’s black and flamed ’33 Ford roadster, which won the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy at the 2015 Grand National Roadster Show, and then won Battle of the Builders later that year at the SEMA Show. It’s one of many Bobby Alloway-built cars in Larry’s collection. “You know Bobby, he can get them sittin’ right,” Larry says.
Indeed, the signature Alloway stance can been seen on a pair of vintage Corvettes Larry owns, as well. Larry knows that ride height plays a crucial role in a car’s character – even most of the stock and low-mileage original cars in his fleet have been lowered and treated to custom tire-and-wheel packages.
In addition to Alloway, local builder Kevin Bowman of Bowman Real Hot Rods in Brandon, South Dakota, is one of Larry’s go-to sources for builds. He built a flamed ’40 coupe for Larry and finished a flamed ’33 Vicky for him, as well. A recently finished ’56 Nomad also came out of Bowman’s shop.
While prewar Ford hot rods are key elements in the collection, Olson likes later rides, too, particularly ’50s and ’60s GM platforms, plus first- and second-generation Corvettes. He has five ’50s-era Cadillacs, and Alloway is finishing up a ’58 Impala for him.
The collection’s entertaining area is nicely appointed with a traditional bar, automotive art, and a flamed couch crafted from the tail end of a ’51 Merc. It’s a great place for Larry and Carol to gather with friends and family, and they’ve even had some country music stars stop by to visit.
Like any ambitious collector, Larry continues to look forward, planning future builds while enjoying his current lineup. There are two ’50s-era pickups – one Chevy, one Ford – in the queue, plus a ’33 Ford roadster that will be crafted by Bowman and a ’33 coupe that will be done at Alloway’s shop. Managing such a collection might seem like a chore to some people, but for Larry it’s just one of the joys of having the hot rod disease.
Photos by John Jackson