17 October 2013

Hershey or Bust Road Trip: That’s a wrap for 2013

After two days of rain, the AACA Eastern Regional Fall Meet in Hershey, Pa., ended on a high note Saturday – a high note of about 70 degrees. Once the sun came out, so did the crowd, and like kindergarteners who’d missed two days of recess, thousands of classic car enthusiasts got the most of those precious eight hours.

“Hey, is that the sun?” a teenage boy asked in jest as he walked past a line of vintage 1953 automobiles at the AACA Car Show. His father played along: “It looks vaguely familiar.”

Joking aside, water-logged vendors and show-goers enjoyed the day.

“We had great bookends – nice on Wednesday and Saturday, horrible Thursday and Friday,” said a vendor from Massachusetts who guessed that he’d broken even, maybe made a little money. “Thank God for today.”

Chuck Larson, of Union, Mich., brought his 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta to Hershey for the first time. He said it had been judged at several shows, but this was the AACA’s first look at it.

“It’s great talking to the experts,” said Larson, who spent 20 minutes chatting with an old timer who had owned two Fiestas. “They know what they’re talking about.”

Larson said his father purchased the car in 1963, but it had a bad engine. “I was nine. I remember he just parked it in the back of the garage, planning to fix it someday, but he never got around to it. I inherited it when he died in 1968. About 10 years ago I lost my job, so I used the time to work on it.”

Larson finished the restoration about five years ago. The Fiesta has fewer than 49,000 miles on the odometer.

“That was the one positive about it not running,” Larson said. “You can’t put miles on a car that doesn’t run.”

A short walk away, Bill and Pam McCauley displayed their gorgeous 1972 Ford Gran Torino. Bill, who owns Carriage House Automotive Restorations in New Lenox, Ill.,  said the car belongs to his wife, which explains why it took him only 14 months to completely restore the car.

“She has all the money,” he joked, “so it went a lot faster than my other projects.”

Another can’t-miss vehicle was Keith Ernst’s 1919 Mack storage moving truck. Painted mostly orange with large lettering on the side, the truck remains in its native Pennsylvania.  It was used by the Ralph G. Smith Storage Company of West Chester, 70 miles north of Ernst’s home in Orwigsburg.

“The original owner had it in the corner of a warehouse,” Ernst said. “I collect trucks, and I saw it at an auction. I originally wanted a fire truck that my buddy was also looking at, so I held onto my money and worked out a deal for this. It’s an attention-getter, that’s for sure.”

Across the streets and more than a half mile away, Keith Miller was selling several cars – all high quality.

“I’m thinning out my collection,” he said. “I can’t drive them all, and I can’t really take care of them all either.”

So Miller, who lives in Hershey – “about three miles over that hill” – was offering a handful of beauties, including a 1939 Plymouth Coupe, a ’59 Edsel Ranger, a stunning 1950 Cadillac with 25,000 on the odometer  and a one-owner 1954 Nash with 11,000 original miles.

“I owned 30 and I’ve sold seven,” Miller said. “It’s tough to see them go, but I like tracking down cars, too. So I’ll be doing some of that.”

Hershey, it seems, is the perfect place to find them.

See you next year.

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