The 2022 Glidden Tour Summary

The 2022 edition of the annual Revival Glidden Tour is in the books. It wrapped up last Friday, September 30, 2022, with a closing banquet at the host hotel outside of Princeton, NJ. In all, 115 pre-1943 cars were registered; an unofficial count states that 7 cars did not finish the tour due to various mechanical issues; a small number were unable to attend; and that leaves me estimating that approximately 100 vehicles completed the tour, driving a total of 450 miles over the course of 5 days.

Starting with the purchase of my first collector car right after college graduation, a 1957 Ford Skyliner, my interest in this hobby has been in the cars of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, no surprise coming from a card-carrying Baby Boomer. However, participating in this year’s Glidden tour as a boots-on-the-ground photographer, present at almost every planned stop over the entire week, has turned my head around. Now I’ve seen proof that pre-war cars can be as reliable and as enjoyable as post-war cars for touring purposes.

Here are some general observations about Glidden drivers and their Glidden cars:

  • Driving 60 to 100 miles a day, no matter the weather, is not only NOT an obstacle; it is THE enjoyment. (The places of interest and the meal stops are only a means to an end.) A casual observer, stumbling upon these cars gathered together, might think this was a car show. To the owners, however, these cars are “Touring Cars” (NOT “drivers”). The difference is this: a “driver” will likely show at least some cosmetic wear, and not all its mechanical features may operate to 100% effectiveness. A Touring Car, by contrast, is both cosmetically and mechanically exceptional. A touring car leaves the owner with no doubt that the car will start, accelerate, handle, and stop. One friend commented to me that “these cars look like they just left the restoration shop”, which misses a major point. These touring cars are driven enough that they have proven their roadworthiness. A fresh restoration may need 200 to 500 shakedown miles before it could be trusted to do what a Glidden Touring car can do.
  • The typical Glidden owner is devoted to their marque. I met two Studebaker drivers, both of whom have a collection of Studebakers at home (one man said he had “10 more”[!]). A Ford Model A owner told me this car was one of four A’s. A delightful woman in a 1937 Buick said that this was just one of a handful of Buicks she and her husband had, at which point she rattled off the year and model of each of the other Buicks. A man with a 1940 Ford stated that he has a small collection of flathead Fords at home. One takeaway for me is that the owners know the ins and outs of their cars very well.
  • Horsepower is nice to have, but the experienced touring driver makes do with what’s under the hood. The Model T probably had the lowest HP rating of the tour cars, and 1/3 of the tour vehicles were Ford Model As, making 40 HP to push a car weighing over 2,000 pounds. At the other end of the spectrum were a Cadillac V12, a Packard V12, and the two Continental V12s. The Glidden tour is not a race, and again, the ability of all these cars to drive the crowded roads of NJ and get to their destinations in reasonable time speaks to the professionalism and experience of these tour drivers.
  • Glidden participants travel throughout the country to participate each year. The Tour Guidebook listed all 115 registrants, and also tallied the number of Glidden tours previously completed. For thirteen, this was their first (and they are referred to as “freshmen”). The remaining 102 have completed at least one other tour. Twenty-nine have driven in 10 or more such events; two people have done 30; one 34, one 39, one 43, and in the top spot is someone who has completed 54 Gliddens!!! Cars were trailered to this year’s event from states as far away as Florida, Colorado, Texas, Nevada, and Arizona.
  • The Tour Guidebook lists 14 cars which carried an additional set of passengers, meaning, 4 in a car. Many of the cars from this era have spacious back seats, and this concept also goes back to the idea of “touring” as something which can be enjoyed with a greater number of people provided your vehicle has the room for them.

 

Last week, I posted a daily photographic account (which you can find here for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday). However, I did not identify any of the vehicles. Some cars stood out for me more than others, and here is a brief write-up about a few of my favorites:

 

  • 1920 Mercer Raceabout: If the searing yellow paint didn’t catch your attention, then the barely-muffled exhaust would! The Mercer’s driver was having no problem keeping up with traffic, and the wide grin on his face verified that he was having as much of a blast as you’d expect. I caught up with him at one stop to ask about the cubic inch displacement of the Mercer’s 4-cylinder engine. He said that it’s “about 300 c.i.” which helps explain his ability to run with the 8- and 12-cylinder jobs. I found myself photographing his car repeatedly during the week.

  • 1941 Lincoln Continental: We were treated to TWO beautiful Mark I Continentals on this tour, and while Tour Chair Vince made it clear to me that he preferred the maroon one, I fell in love with this warm silver one. The female owner/driver caught me continuously taking pictures of it, and said to me “it’s not a show car, you know!” I told her it was just as beautiful as any show car. In a self-deprecating way, she complained that her car was photographed at an event and ended up on the cover of the Lincoln Owner’s Club magazine, which to her “was just a shame as there were so many other nicer cars there!” Her car ran as well as it looked. This was my overall favorite car on the Tour.

 

  • 1931 Auburn 8: This car was in the running against the Continental for favorite car. From certain angles, it was stately, powerful, and streamlined. Yet from other angles, the car appeared bulky and less graceful. Nevertheless, it was an imposing automobile to see cruising down the road. I didn’t speak to the driver, but he was out and about every day with no apparent issues.

 

 

  • 1936 DeSoto 4-door convertible: I had a long chat with the owner’s wife, who told me that this had been her father-in-law’s car, so it’s been in the family for a long time. She said the car is very comfortable and has been extremely reliable. She and her husband also have done The Great Race twice, for which they purchased a 1971 GTO! But it sounded like they both enjoyed that experience less, as she described the tremendous pressure to compete, as it’s a TSD rally. It’s interesting to compare the styling of this ’36 to the 1935 DeSoto Airflow which was also on the tour.

 

 

  • 1911 Cadillac Model 30 Touring: All credit goes to the driver and passenger of this 4-door open car, both of whom brought adequate clothing for the conditions, which thankfully remained mostly warm and dry. This was one of the oldest cars on the tour, yet they were out there, often leading the pack! When the driver finally opened the hood for me to peek, I saw that the car was running a 4-cylinder engine with twin spark plugs per cylinder. As per Wikipedia, this engine displaced 3.7L, quite large for a 4-banger. Wiki also states that the 1911 Cadillac was the first car to have an electric starter.

 

 

My immersion among 100+ cars from the first 4 decades of the 20th century was rewarding beyond words. It was an in-your-face education about the early years of autmotive engineering and styling. Now of course, I want to find a pre-war car to call my own, and go touring in it!

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

The NJ Glidden Tour for Friday, Sep 30, 2022

Friday’s tour, the final driving day of the week, began with a stop at the NJ National Guard Militia Museum, followed by a visit to the Princeton Battlefield. After lunch in Colonial Park, the group headed back to the hotel via the Millstone Valley Scenic Byway.

 

 

 

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

NJ hosts the 2022 Glidden Tour

The 2022 edition of the Glidden Tour is being held in New Jersey, and officially begins today, Sunday, September 25, 2022. As has been the case in recent years, the tour is co-sponsored by the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America), the AAA (American Automobile Association) and the VMCCA (Vintage Motor Car Club of America).  The NJ Region of the AACA, of which I am a member, has been most active in planning this tour which is centered in and around Princeton, NJ, and features tours of local sites which played a role in the American Revolution.

There is a long history to the Glidden Tours which you can read about here. I will not take up space to reiterate that history, however, the tours started in the very early part of the 20th century as a way to demonstrate the reliability of the then-new horseless carriages. In 1946, the tours were started up again and have been run as annual “revival” events. This year, about 115 cars, all model year 1942 or older, are registered to drive a different route each day from Sunday through Friday of this week. Total mileage for the week will be in the hundreds, and many (if not most) participants have driven in many previous Glidden Tours.

I am honored to have been asked to be one of four official photographers for the event. I stopped at the host hotel yesterday to take some photos of the first cars as they arrived, and I have a specific schedule to follow starting Monday. My plan is to post some photos each day (no text) and conclude the week with a wrap-up story. In the meantime, enjoy the pix!

 

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Thursday Lunch Drive, Sep. 15, 2022

My inexact science points to the year 2008 when I, along with my driving cohort Larry, took over the planning for our “Sunday morning breakfast drives”. With only a few exceptions, we have stayed with this tried-and-true formula in the ensuing 14 years (I cannot believe that number as I type it). At the same time, L. and I are also always discussing ways to mix it up, and credit goes to him for the combination idea of a weekday drive followed by a midday food stop.

And so we selected Thursday Sep. 15, 2022, for our first-ever such event. Six brave souls (which can also be read as “six guys who are retired or are otherwise available”) showed up. Although the number was small, 3 of the 6 vehicles were new to us. Our destination was the Empire Diner in Monroe, NY, a previous breakfast destination, where we were able to be immediately seated up our noon arrival. The food was great, the service even better, and after our usual kick-the-tires parking lot session (including someone offering cash on-the-spot for Larry’s Chevy), we were headed back home.

Was it a success? It was, yet at the same time, we both recognize that there are still a number of our car buddies for whom any such gathering needs to be on a Saturday or Sunday. As I see it, we can add the weekday lunch idea to our arsenal for occasional deployment as we see fit.

 

Ken’s Porsche 911
Sean’s Mercedes-Benz sedan
Larry’s Chevy Caprice sedan
Pete’s Porsche 911
Bill’s ’67 Corvette
Richard’s Miata

 

Departing the Sheraton parking lot

 

What a beautiful rear end to follow!

 

Most guys ordered omelettes, thinking it was Sunday 😉

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

The 2022 Hillsborough NJ Memorial Day Parade

This past Saturday, May 28, 2022, was my 4th time driving a collector car in the Hillsborough NJ Memorial Day parade. I reported on my drives in 2017, 2018, and 2019; in 2020 and 2021, either the parades were cancelled (Covid or weather) or I was unable to participate.

Participation was again sponsored by the NJ Region of the AACA. In all, about 18 cars paraded along the 1.5 mile route. Driving my Alfa this year, I was joined by a lineup that greatly differed from the vehicles in the 2019 edition of the parade. It was a nice change of pace to see some different cars and meet some members who normally don’t join in club events.

There’s always a great turnout of locals lining the streets. One of the best things about the Hillsborough parade is seeing the throngs waving their flags and waving at the drivers. Pointing my camera out the window actually encourages them to wave more fervently.

Parade speed is below 5 m.p.h., and this is when a manual gearbox car is at a disadvantage. There was too much slipping of the clutch required, so I increased my distance between my car and the car in front of me, allowing me to remain in first gear longer.

At the parade’s end, we did something different this year: the collector cars were ushered into a parking lot alongside the Municipal Building, and a mini car show was held. Parade attendees then got a chance to see the vehicles which had cruised past them earlier up close. The Hillsborough parade, with a starting point only 15 minutes from my house, remains on my annual calendar.

Our Master of Ceremonies

 

1967 Alfa Romeo

 

1993 Buick Roadmaster

 

1953 Chevrolet Bel Air

 

1987 Mercury Cougar

 

Ford Model A with homemade oak body

 

 

 

1986 Pontiac Fiero

 

 

1969 Mercury Cougar

 

1930 Ford Model A

 

1959 Ford

 

 

1962 Corvette

 

1946 Chevrolet pickup truck

 

1976 VW Beetle

 

Dodge Power Wagon

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, May 15, 2022

On the morning of May 15, 2022, we had our first breakfast drive event of the year, and drive we did! It was the first time since June of last year that we drove a route with a planned destination, and it was the first time since our static Cars & Coffee soiree of August 29, 2021, that we got our little group together. The weekend forecast was not favorable, although threats of actual rain were called off for Sunday morning. Nevertheless, the day dawned foggy and humid, which likely contributed to a light turnout of five vehicles.

We five met at our usual spot in front of the Mahwah Sheraton, and Larry did an excellent job of planning a route north through New York a bit before we dipped back into New Jersey, finally getting on Route 513 South which comprised the majority of the miles driven. Our destination was the same as last June, the Red Hut Diner on Route 46 in Rockaway, NJ.

We sat outside under a tent, although we needed it neither for shade nor water protection. It was quite comfortable outside, and we chatted about our favorite subject as usual: pencil manufacturing the car hobby.

Our waitress did an outstanding job ensuring that coffee cups never ran dry, and since we were the only patrons at the outside tables, they didn’t rush us out of there. Contrary to a forecast which predicted sunnier skies as the day progressed, we began to see dark clouds roll in, which kept the convertible tops of the Alfa, Porsche, and Miata in their raised positions.

It’s difficult to believe that summer is but five weeks away; our hope is to get at least one more event on the calendar before the longest day of the year brings unbearable heat with it. We’ll work on that schedule while we hope for a larger turnout next time.

1972 Chevy Nova

 

1993 Miata

 

1991 Alfa Spider

 

Porsche 911

 

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.