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Porsche and mannequin removed after 40 years perched above I-94

It's not quite the end of the road for "Minnie MAPCO." She's hitting the road to Lakeville

LAKEVILLE, Minn. — After more than 40 years, an eye-catching oddity has been removed from it's perch above Interstate 94, just north of downtown Minneapolis.

A female mannequin known as "Minnie MAPCO" was a north Minneapolis fixture for decades, sitting on top of a red Porsche that was welded on top of a metal pole by the owner of the Minneapolis Auto Parts Company, which used to own the property.

But Minnie was grounded late last week when Bille Bus Transportation, which is currently located on the property, put up its own sign.

However, that's not the end of the road for Minnie or her Porsche — turns out, she's just moving south to retire.

"I have a freeway, right here along Interstate 35, so I'm thinking that will be kind of an addition to my little thing here, going on," said Jake Hood, owner of Hot Sam's Antiques, in Lakeville. "Basically, I'm a junk man with a sense of humor."

Hood who has rescued many beloved signs and other oddities from the region, and has them on display throughout his sprawling property, says he didn't anticipate giving Minnie MAPCO a new home until getting a call from someone with Bille Bus Transportation last week.

"He said, 'We've got something you may be interested in. You can actually have it for nothing if you want it,'" Hood said. "I said, 'Well sure, I'll take that.'"

Jake's longtime partner, Kathy Sakry, says the car instantly brought back memories of her trips to college in St. Cloud back in the 1980s.

"I would drive by it coming back the cities and I knew I was on my way home," she said. "And I'd always see her waving. She'd be waving."

For Dori Wolgel and her sisters, the old car and mannequin bring back memories of something more personal. Their father, Joseph Garber, died in 2006 but gave Minnie her rise to fame back in the late 1970s. 

"My dad was very creative in thinking outside the box," said Mindy Garber.

"Yes, that was certainly a testament to his creativity and outside-the-box thinking," said Fern Garber. "He had been in a dispute with the city about putting up a normal sign, so he came up with something much more memorable."

"It was to get people's attention and also it was a good land marker when you were giving directions on how to find the store," Wolgel said.

That store, MAPCO, used to be visible on the doors of the Porsche, but subsequent owners covered it with a bible verse, Psalm 46:10 in the 1990s. They also put a jacket on Minnie after more than a decade of wardrobe changes.

"She originally had a bikini, and there was another mannequin as well," Fern Garber said. "He put them both in the Twins uniforms and one of the mannequins was up in the car and the other one was down by the fence, and they would have the mitt and it would look like they were tossing the baseball back and forth."

Over the years, Minnie was joined by a robot co-pilot, also created by their father.

"He was made out of auto parts and spent years on display at the Minnesota State Fair," Mindy Garber said.

As Minnie pulled into her new home in Lakeville on Monday afternoon, Jake Hood was already making plans to put her back on a pedestal where she belongs.

"I can maybe get it 10 to 12 feet in the air," Hood said. "It will be enough where you can see it from the freeway."

They say family can visit her any time.

"We have a Hardware Hank sign and the family comes in every year to visit and say, 'Hi,'" Sakry said.

"Next time in Minneapolis, that's going to be my first stop," Mindy Garber said. "It's a little bit of my dad and he's still here, he's still with us, and he's probably happy that it's still around."

"We're happy to hear its life will live on still," Fern Garber said.


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