BMW fan enjoys his 2001 Roadster

Joyce and Dennis Pickering enjoy rides around Lake Panorama in their 2001 BMW convertible. Joyce has never driven the car in the three years it’s been in their garage, although Dennis says she has the “green light” to do so if she changes her mind.


Dennis Pickering did some research then purchased the car sight unseen and had it trucked to Iowa. 


By Susan Thompson | Lake Panorama Times

Dennis and Joyce Pickering have lived at Lake Panorama since 1987. The pair were high school sweethearts, growing up in a small town in northeast Missouri. They both graduated with bachelor’s degrees in social sciences from Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, which later was renamed Truman State University. The couple will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary in August. 

After Dennis earned a master’s degree in school counseling, they moved to Iowa in 1978. Dennis spent 34 years as a high school counselor, working in four different schools. One of those was YJB, where he spent 14 years. During some of those years, he was in a shared counselor position with the Bayard School District. 

He ended his high school counseling career at Guthrie Center, retiring in 2003. Next came six years where he and a colleague received a federal grant to create and present programs in schools on healthy relationships.

Dennis Pickering’s friends call him Pick. So it was an easy decision for him to choose “4 Pick” as the license plate on his dream car.

For 23 years, Joyce was an addictions counselor in Guthrie, Greene and Audubon counties. She retired in 2007.

Once fully retired, the couple started to explore the United States. 

“We did a lot of traveling by car in our 60s, and we needed to be comfortable. We discovered BMWs are wonderful cars, and we owned several over the years,” Dennis says. 

They’ve since switched to an Audi for their main vehicle. Yet, Dennis still has a love for BMWs. He particularly admired the BMW Z3 Roadster convertible. BMW Z3 is a range of two-seater sports cars produced from 1995 to 2002.

Dennis kept his eyes open for his dream car. Not surprisingly in today’s world, an ad for a 2001 BMW Z3 Roadster popped up on his laptop computer three years ago. It was located in Chicago and owned by a corporation. 

“I called and talked to a sales rep. Although the car was 20 years old, it only had 22,000 miles on the odometer,” Dennis says. “I think it probably was used by the company for short trips to pick up people they wanted to impress.”

Pickering says he did some research then called back to purchase the car sight unseen. He had it trucked to Iowa. 

“It came in July, just in time for his birthday,” Joyce says.  

It’s almost a requirement that a car like the BMW Z3 Roadster have a specialty license plate. For most of his life, Dennis’ friends have turned his last name into his nickname — Pick. 

“Since this was my dream car, it was an easy decision to choose ‘4 Pick’ as the license plate,” he says. 

Soon after buying the sports car, the couple decided to drive it the 180 miles to their northeast Missouri hometown. The top was down. Dennis says he loved the trip.

 Joyce says, “Never again! The wind was terrible, there were bugs hitting me in the face. Especially on the interstate, it was bad. I hated it.” 

In August, the couple’s 60th high school class reunion will be held in their former hometown. Dennis gives Joyce a sideways glance then says he’s been thinking about driving the BMW Roadster to the reunion. 

“I think it would be fun to share it with our classmates, maybe get some photos with it,” he says. “But I haven’t yet said this to Joyce.”  

“That’s fine; I think it’s a good idea,” Joyce says. “But only if we drive with the top up.” 

Most trips in the BMW are shorter and more casual. 

“I like to just drive around the lake when the weather is nice and the top is down,” Dennis says. Joyce says she enjoys those excursions, too.

Over the three years the couple has owned the car, they’ve added just 2,000 miles to the odometer, which now stands at 24,000. 

“Everything works great,” Dennis says. “I haven’t had any work done on it. It’s automatic transmission, the air conditioning and radio work well, and it gets decent gas mileage. I just really like driving it and having it in our garage.” 

There has been one other unique vehicle in the Pickering garage. That was many years ago, when he purchased a 1956 Ford half-ton truck. 

“I had a friend who was an auto body guy. We searched through junkyards to find the parts to get it running. He painted it purple and added wide tires. I called it my Purple Passion truck. Sometimes I would drive it in parades, but mostly I just drove it back and forth to work.” 

During his years as a school counselor, Dennis also coached several high school sports. 

“I was the girls track coach at YJB. I always left my keys in the truck. One day some of the girls thought it would be fun to hide it. The brakes on that truck weren’t very good. They drove it around the building, and as they were parking it, they crashed into the building,” he says. “They came into the gym, crying. I thought they were trying to trick me, but eventually I realized they really had wrecked my truck. I told them it was OK, I wasn’t mad. I got both the dent and the brakes fixed.”  

The couple has two sons. Brent lives in Atlanta, and Eric lives in Boone. Each has a son and a daughter, giving the Pickerings four grandchildren to enjoy. 

The Pickerings spent 13 years in their first Lake Panorama home. In 2000, they had a new home built on a large lot along the fourth fairway of the Lake Panorama National golf course. Dennis enjoys golf. Both Dennis and Joyce enjoy reading, and are history buffs. 

“We’re homebodies,” Joyce says. “We enjoy our home, our retirement and our grandchildren.” 

Dennis has been teased by some friends about his small sports car, asking if he’s having a midlife crisis or trying to regain his youth. When the car is parked in the couple’s driveway, random people sometimes stop to ask if it’s for sale. 

“I don’t plan to ever sell it,” he says. “And I don’t mind the teasing. I just love this car. I have, sort of, promised I would give it to my grandson in Boone. But he’s going to have to wait until I’m done with it.” 

Ask Joyce how she likes driving the sports car, and she says she has never driven it. She’s content being the passenger. 

“I’ve encouraged her to drive it, but she always says no,” Dennis says. “I just want everyone to know she has the ‘green light’ to drive it if she ever changes her mind.” 

Dennis Pickering with his 2001 BMW Z3 Roadster convertible in the driveway of the home he and his wife, Joyce, share at Lake Panorama. He’s owned the car for three years and has put just 2,000 miles on it. It was formerly owned by a company, and he purchased it with just 22,000 miles on the odometer.

A ’67 John Deere and a ’69 Chevelle

Brian Rumple and his 1967 John Deere tractor.


Brian Rumple enjoys these two classics.


By Rich Wicks | Guthrie Center Times

Farming just north of Casey has provided Brian Rumple with many years of sitting in the cab of a tractor. He apparently hasn’t tired of that quite yet, as he still chooses to spend some of his free time in a family favorite. 

Rumple recently showed his treasured old tractor, which has been in the family a long time. It’s a John Deere, but it’s one of a kind.

“My dad bought it brand new in 1967. It’s a 4020 gas tractor,” Rumple said.

“Then, in 1973, the engine had problems, so he took it to a guy who put a 4430 engine in it, and we named it 4420. It’s been here ever since.”

Rumple noted that tractors, like everything else, have risen greatly in price over the decades.

“It used to be our main tractor. Everybody in my family drove it, even my grandpa,” Rumple said. “It cost $8,000 new, and I’m thinking the repower was around $2,800 or something. Nowadays, I spent more than that on new tires.”

After a long career working in the fields, the tractor now is retired from active farm work. Rumple explained that, because the tractor has so much sentimental value in the family, he chose to keep it, fix it up and let everyone enjoy it.

“My brother and I repainted it a few years ago,” Rumple said.

Since then, it’s been seen in tractor shows and many local parades, including the Casey 150th anniversary celebration in 2019. Rumple noted that the family showcased tractors from each decade, from the 1960s through the 2000s. 

When asked what makes his 1967 tractor unique, Rumple had a ready answer.

“John Deere never made a 4420. It’s a 4020 with a 4430 engine in it, which is a bigger engine.”

Another vehicle that’s near and dear to Rumple’s heart is his 1969 Chevelle.

“I bought it from a guy, probably 10 or 12 years ago, maybe a little longer,” Rumple said. “It’s a Yenko clone. It has a 427 engine in it. It’s a little more rare version.”

Rumple said the car reminds him of one from his past.

“My brother had a 1969 Chevelle in high school,” Rumple said. “I take it to car shows, maybe two or three a year. I’m not planning on getting rid of it.”

Rumple isn’t actively looking to add another classic car, but he admits he has considered the possibility. 

“Well, I had a 1973 SS four-speed Nova in high school,” Rumple said. “That would be nice, but I don’t really have a spot for it. One’s probably all I’m allowed.”


Brian Rumple’s 1969 Chevelle.


1953 Chevy holds memories for Flanery

Kellie Flanery and her classic car.

Car has become the icon of her business.

By Rich Wicks | Panora Times

Some things naturally seem to go together, such as hot dogs and baseball or summer and the beach. But what about a hair salon and a classic car? Although this might not seem like a natural match, Kellie Flanery of Panora explained why this pairing works well for her.

“I grew up out at the lake, and my husband is from in town,” she said. “He and his brothers had a garage, and they were always hot-rodders. I never really liked cars all that well, but I started a hair salon and named it Retro LUX. Then I kind of started getting into doing pinup stuff, and it brought me a reason to like that old car stuff.”

Kellie Flanery and her dog take a moment to relax while the car was under repair.

So she talked with her husband, Tom, about incorporating a classic car image into her salon’s motif. After some asking around, Kellie and Tom found someone who owned a 1953 Chevy and who was willing to sell it. 

Flanery recalled that the car was in fairly good shape. 

“The body was all done, except it needed a paint job,” she said. “It drove. It had the original motor, and it was a ‘three on the tree.’ So, we drove it home, and I picked out a nail color from my salon that I really liked and got it painted that color.”

She recalled that the car didn’t have power steering, and the engine smoked. But when Tom had extra time during the pandemic, he started fixing the various issues the car had. Kellie’s brother-in-law, Dan Flanery, also did some work on it, and Kellie is appreciative of the help in getting her car all fixed up.

“It’s running perfect now,” she said.

The car has become the icon of her business, and its personalized license plate says “RETROLX.” Flanery rattled off some of the other details about the car.

“It’s a 1953 Chevy 210 two-door. It has a 355-cubic-inch small-block Chevy automatic transmission and posi-trac rear end,” she said.

But, she added, the specific technical details are not her focus.

Flanery enjoys driving her car in the Panorama Days parade so that others can enjoy it, but the car is especially meaningful to her since it’s been worked on by family, and she likes driving it locally just for fun.

“I just like the look of it and the sound of it,” she said. “I wanted something I could drive around town and look cool in. I love to go out to the lake in the summertime, roll the windows down, and just remember good old times.” n



Melissa Merical in the driveway of her home on Donahey Drive with her 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

Melissa Merical is the proud owner of a 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

By Susan Thompson | Lake Panorama Times

The phrase, “Like father, like son,” is well known. But in the case of Melissa Merical, the phrase, “Like father, like daughter,” fits. That’s because her love of Corvettes reflects the love her father had for Corvettes. 

“I always wanted a Corvette when I was younger,” Merical says. “My father was a Corvette collector and had many Corvettes through the years. He was president of the Corvette Club of Iowa. He collected Corvettes and Dodge Vipers. He would take me with him to club meetings, parties and racing events.”

Now, Merical is the proud owner of a 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. The name of the car’s color is as fancy as the car itself — Hypersonic Gray Metallic. 

“When the new C8 Corvette was introduced, I knew I had to have one,” Merical says. “I purchased it from Joel Hester at Karl’s Chevrolet in Stuart. I ordered it in 2020, and because of COVID delays, it arrived in 2022.”

When she was a child, Merical’s parents, Jim and Sandy Strong, had a condo on Lake Panorama’s main basin. Later, they had a home on the west side near Shady Beach, so she spent many years of weekends and summers at the lake. She grew up in homes in West Des Moines and Ankeny and graduated from Ankeny High School. 

Merical has lived full-time at Lake Panorama since 2006 when she built a house on Donahey Drive. Merical’s father passed away in 2008. Her mother has a log cabin across the street from her, and her sister lives in a home nearby. Her three children and five grandchildren all live within an hour’s drive. 

She is a self-taught artist and interior designer. Her website, Merical Creations, features a gallery of original paintings and large design projects. Beginning in 2012, Merical developed a portion of her family’s farm west of Panora that now is Twin Vines. She planted the vineyard and designed the house, barn and other structures. For a time, she had her art studio in the house.

Merical’s 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray features removable hard tops, an engine in the back, and a “frunk” in the front, where the engine is found on most cars. Online specs show the C8 Corvette can go from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds and has a top track speed of 194 miles per hour. 

This isn’t the first notable car Merical has owned. 

“I had a 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T powered by a 5.7 Hemi,” she says. “That was a fun car to drive. I owned it four years and sold it when I got the Corvette.” 

Merical’s Corvette is in a cozy garage attached to her home. It is climate controlled with geothermal and in-floor heating with a shiny epoxy floor that is kept as clean as the Corvette. 

“My daughter Nicole says my Corvette is a ‘garage queen’ because I rarely drive it. She did convince me to drive her to the Jelly Roll concert in Omaha last year, and I even let her drive it back home,” Merical says. “I have been to the Guthrie County Cars and Coffee meets a few times. I’ve also been to several parades and area car shows. I really enjoy being with other car enthusiasts and talking cars and car-related topics.”

Does Merical plan any updates to her Corvette? 

“I ordered the car fully optioned and have not made any additional improvements,” she says. “I am planning to have Detailer’s Eye in Panora give the car a ceramic coat in the spring, which will help protect the paint. 

“I don’t consider myself a gearhead,” Merical says. “But I do enjoy driving a car with more than average horsepower. My dad was a pilot and enjoyed flying in the air as well in his Corvettes. I share that same passion.”

The vanity license plate on Merical’s Corvette references the word Mistletoe. 

“My dad used to call me that when I was a little girl,” she says. “I thought this would be a good remembrance of him, because this is the kind of car he loved.” 

As they say, like father, like daughter.


The vanity license plate on Merical’s Corvette references the word Mistletoe, a nickname her father gave her when she was a little girl.

A man and his dinosaur

Roger Dorr of Panora has an eclectic collection of vintage car signs and related items.

By Rich Wicks | Panora Times

Roger Dorr’s tribute to Sinclair gas stations of the past.

Roger Dorr’s tribute to Sinclair gas stations of the past.[/caption]Roger Dorr of Panora has an eye for items from the good old days. If he finds something quirky or weird, even better. A tour of Dorr’s yard and garage yields an eclectic collection of vintage car signs and related items — and a few things that are difficult to classify. 

In explaining why there is an eight-foot-long green dinosaur in his yard, Dorr said, “I used to own a convenience store 22 years ago out in Council Bluffs. It was a Texaco station, so then I started getting into the vintage gas pumps and all that stuff. The house we used to live in, I had it all set up in Texaco stuff from the 1940s and 1950s. So, here, I decided to do the Sinclair ones.” 

Dorr says he has been into cars his entire life. 

Roger Dorr’s garage is full of vintage car items.

“Classic cars, restoring cars, I probably got that from my dad,” Dorr explained. “I’m really big into the AMC stuff. I always liked cars that were different than everybody else had. A lot of AMX’s and Javelins, and I had a Pro Street Gremlin. It’s just stuff that nobody else had.”

One of the most notable items in Dorr’s garage is a bright yellow 2004 Chevrolet SSR. SSR stands for Super Sport Roadster and is a retro-styled retractable hardtop convertible pickup that was produced from 2003 to 2006. Dorr said many of the major car manufacturers sold quirky vehicles around that time due to the brief popularity of the PT Cruiser.

When asked if he takes his vehicles out and about, Dorr answered, “All the time. I do mostly parades and auto shows.” He participated in a recent fundraiser ride to benefit the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, driving from Adel to Perry.

Dorr recalled an incident that was painful at the time but said he can laugh about it now.

Pointing to his large AMC sign, he said, “That’s an original AMC dealership sign. It was on my sister’s building when I took it down. I dropped it, and it broke, and I just about had a heart attack.”

Dorr said he was up on a ladder on the side of a building that faced the highway, and the wind caught the ladder and he fell to the ground.

“But I was more worried about the sign,” he said, noting that he hobbled over to the sign and saw that it had broken, but he was able to patch it up. 

Dorr says he started collecting his unique array of items around the mid-1990s and has no plans to stop. He often spots items at small shops as he travels.

“I’m always looking for stuff,” he said. “I’m on Facebook Marketplace probably too much, but I’m always looking.”