From the time he was a teenager in North Kansas City five decades ago, Harry Rose has had a fascination with cars that has helped guide his life.
In 1993, when Rose was a decade away from retiring from the Ford Assembly Plant at Claycomo, he bought a 1993 teal Mustang Cobra, #0056 build of 4,993.
“If you are a car guy,” Rose said, “that is a big deal because anything under 100 in the build is significant.”
Rose, 64, bought the Mustang Cobra with a plan to one day take it to car shows after he retired. He wanted the car in near mint condition, so he kept it his garage and rarely drove it.
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Three years later, the car bug hit Rose again, and he bought a 1996 Mystic Mustang Cobra. Only 1,999 were built. The interesting aspect is the paint.
“It has special paint,” Rose said. “The sun angle brings out different pigments, purple, green. When the light is at a low level, it is kind of a gold color. It is a neat paint.”
Again, Rose’s new purchase spent most of the time in his garage. He knew better than to take it out in the elements on a daily basis. He had bought several cars earlier in his life and tried to preserve them while driving them.
“In this area, you can’t do that,” Rose said.
After 31 years working with Ford, Rose retired in 2003. A year later, he bought a 2004 vintage mint green Ford Thunderbird.
“I watched that thing sit on the lot for a while,” Rose said. “I couldn’t believe it sat there for months and months. I kind of low-balled them, and they took my offer.”
Like the other two cars, the 2004 Thunderbird spends most of its time in the garage at his Liberty home. Rose and his wife’s daily drivers sit outside in the elements.
Lydia Rose laughed and said her husband will scrape the ice and snow off her car in the winter time.
“She has been good about it,” Harry said. “She never complains.”
Harry only drives the cars on Sundays when the weather is nice and there isn’t much traffic. The 1993 Mustang Cobra has 1,195 miles on it, the Mystic Mustang Cobra has 727 miles and the 2004 Thunderbird has 1,429 miles on it.
“My original intention was to be fully retired by now and go to car shows,” Rose said. “I bought these cars to sit until they became rare enough and unusual enough to take them to car shows in their pristine condition. I have been too busy to do that.”
Before the three cars hit that level, Rose went back to work. He works with special needs children in the North Kansas City School District.
Lydia said she has only driven the Thunderbird once and ridden in it twice.
“The other cars, zero,” she said.
Harry said she is exaggerating a bit. When asked what she thought about her husband’s hobby, Lydia gave a good-natured laugh while Harry insisted she be honest.
“Tough question,” she said. “I would spend the money on something else. I would put it in the bank or do a lot of things instead of sitting in a garage. It would not be my choice.”
Harry and Lydia have been married for 43 years. They met in high school at North Kansas City. She has always known about Harry’s love of cars.
In fact, if it weren’t for Harry’s strong desire to buy his first car before his senior year, they never would have met.
Just before Harry’s junior year ended, he went to his dad wanting some help to buy a car before his senior year.
“He said I could drive his car one night a week on the weekend,” Harry said. “But that wasn’t what I envisioned for my senior year, at all. I had an alternate plan and sprung it on him immediately.”
Harry quit school and went to work to earn enough money to buy a car. His father trusted him to go back to school. He eventually earned enough money to buy a 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7 GT and couple of months later, he traded it in for a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang.
“It was worth it,” Rose said. “It turned out better than I thought. Everything was great about my senior year. I can’t complain.”
When he returned to North Kansas City a year later, he met Lydia, a sophomore. They went on a double date in his Boss 302.
“I would have never met her had I not stayed out of school that year,” Harry said. “I would have graduated before she ever got there if I didn’t quit school to earn my money to buy a car.”
It is definitely a happily-ever-after story.
“Lydia has been wonderful and accepting of the fact that for 20 years we have not had a garage,” Harry said. “I wanted a house with five garages and she always wanted to live on water.”
And that is what Harry gave her. Their house in Liberty sits next to a seven-acre lake, and his cars have a happy home.
“I do love them,” said Harry, smiling.
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com