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.”