AACA Hershey Event, October 2016

Flea market parts hunting the old-fashioned way
Flea market parts hunting the old-fashioned way

The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) hosted their Eastern Division National Fall Meet for the umpteenth (61st) time in Hershey PA during the first week of October this year. As someone who has attended “Hershey” at least 25 times over the years, I find myself asking “what is it that keeps drawing the crowds?”

Cars in the Car Corral line up on the perimeter road
Car Corral merchandise lines up on the perimeter road

After all, as has been reflected in numerous posts here as well as within every publication which covers collector cars, the old car hobby has changed in so many ways. The Internet, obviously, has driven transactions online. The greying of the hobby means that the aging boomers, who may finally have the means to buy that dream car, will buy it not as a project, but as a restored, ready-to-go vehicle, and may pursue that dream at an auction. Younger generations are not showing interest in 25-year-old and older stock vehicles, and frankly may be reluctant to join a club with the word “Antique” in its title.

Bargains still available, you supply the labor to restore
Bargains still available, you supply the labor to restore

This blog has now been up and running long enough that some annual events are being reported for the second time. And so it is with Hershey. It may be instructive to revisit what was said a year ago: in essence, thanks in large part to its six-decade history, Hershey continues to be the go-to place for cars and parts which can be found in few other places, in person or online.

Two well-known names in attendance
Two well-known hobby names in attendance

The sheer size of the event, with its combination of old-fashioned flea market, car corral, and judged car show can account for the crowds. (Again this year, the influx of foreigners was huge.) Weather may sometimes play a role (who remembers the Hershey mud?), but even that is a relic of the past, as the entire flea market and corral are on pavement.

Wooden wheels and steering wheels
Wooden road wheels and steering wheels

There certainly are things to see and do which cannot be duplicated on a tablet screen. For example, Hagerty Insurance, as they did last year, ran a “Search, Build, Drive” contest whereby they would purchase a project vehicle from the Car Corral, and bring it to running, driving condition using parts found in the flea market. And one more small detail: they challenge themselves to accomplish this within the 4 days of Hershey. You can read more about it here.

The Hagerty Team hard at work on this year's Ford Model A project
The Hagerty Team hard at work on this year’s Ford Model A project

Due to personal commitments, I was unable to attend Saturday’s judged meet this year. I did  attend the RM-Sotheby auto auction, held about a mile away at the Hershy Lodge, which will be covered as a separate blog post.

Caffeine oasis in the flea market
Caffeine oasis in the flea market

The bulk of this post will be a report on a random sample of cars, domestic and foreign, in the Car Corral. While there are hundreds of cars for sale, I’m especially drawn to both imports and to orphan makes. Comments about each car follow the photos.

 

This 1956 Packard Clipper 2-door hardtop was driven down from Ontario, Canada to the meet. It allegedly had 40,000 original miles, but much of the lower body was wavy with Bondo. The ask was $14,750. If that were Canadian bucks, it would be an even better deal.

 

This generation of the Mercedes-Benz SL (known as the “107” chassis to the devoted) was sold here from 1973-1989. We are so used to seeing them with their diving-board bumpers that we forget how elegant the original design was. This ’73 U.S.-spec car reminds us. This car claimed to have 45,000 original miles, and the owner was asking $18,500.

 

This 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire was rough around the edges, but it looked like it was all there. Price was $7,500 OBO. It was the only one at Hershey.

 

This ’61 T-Bird was claimed to be highly optioned with power steering, brakes, top, windows, and seats. It also had wire wheels. The beige-on-beige may not be your first choice, but I liked it. Asking $24,000 “cash! Priced to sell!”

 

The sign on this 1987 Alfa Romeo Graduate Spider gave little info other than “Low miles, $9,900“.

 

This 1980 Mazda RX-7, a first-generation car, still wore the original tail light design, which was updated a year later. The sign claimed this car was an Anniversary Edition (whatever that is), and with 63,000 miles, the ask was $9,800.

 

This 1977 Jaguar XJ6-C is a rare 2-door version of the better-known XJ four-door sedan. My recollection is that 100% of these vehicles had factory vinyl roofs. This one’s was removed in favor of black paint. The car looked like it had needs, and these are known to be rust-prone, so check carefully before you pay the $12,500 asking price.

 

This 1982 Lancia Beta Zagato is from the final year of U.S. sales for this Italian import. Like the Beta coupe, the transverse engine drove the front wheels. The Zagato version has a fold-down soft rear window plus a removable targa top, giving an almost-convertible feel. The sign claimed 59,000 pampered miles, and it looked it. The owner was asking $5,995.

 

The Buick Reatta has been on the “appreciating future collectible” list for so long that I think most people have forgotten it. There are always a few for sale, and this one’s colors and condition made it stand out. The sign claimed it to be a two-owner car for only $6,800.

 

This 1969 Jaguar E-Type OTS (Open Two Seater) was claimed to be an unrestored original car with only 48,000 miles. Primrose yellow is one of my favorite E-Type colors. If solid, it may be a good buy at $75,900.

 

This 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III was alleged to be a 62,000 mile all-original car. A little bland in white with a black vinyl top and black leather interior, it would look good in your garage (provided it fit) for only $6,500.

 

This 1994 Jaguar XJS convertible had the 4.0 six-cylinder engine, but had bad paint, with clearcoat failure on several horizontal surfaces. The ask was $7,850 /offer.

 

It’s rare to see a Triumph Spitfire this old that has not turned into a pile of iron oxide, but this 1968 appeared to be all there. Sure, it needed work, but it looked like you could drive it on weekends and attend to its needs during the week. The sign claimed that this car had been put away in storage between 1986 and 2015, and that accounts for the 28k original miles. The price, you ask? $4,975.

 

This 1964 Studebaker Commander (in Bermuda Brown Metallic, the same FACTORY shade as the GT Hawk at Carlisle last week) had 21,000 original miles on it, was an unrestored car, and looked it. We had a lengthy discussion with the owner, who pointed out that the only option on this 6-cylinder engine, 3-speed manual car was a cigar lighter. He was asking $5,500.

 

There were several Triumph TR-6s in the corral, and this was one of the nicer ones. A 1972 model has the smaller bumpers, and this green-over-tan car was nicely set off by oversize tires on Panasport wheels. The mods continued under the hood with dual Webers. It was cosmetically spotless. The owners were asking $12,900.

 

This 1958 Triumph TR-3 was in baby blue over a medium blue interior, with whitewalls on chrome wires. It looked like you could hop right in and go for a cruise. This “older restoration” was for sale for $17,900.

 

This 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible was parked next to an identical model from 1965. It was interesting to note the styling changes, both inside and out, with my vote going to the ’66. This one was cosmetically less attractive, but it had the more reasonable asking price of $20,000.

 

This 1971 Jaguar XKE Series III coupe, again in Primrose yellow, was claimed to be a 97,000 mile unrestored car (you may have noticed the continuing trend toward “unrestored / all-original / barn find” cars for sale). All Series III cars rode on the longer 2+2 wheelbase and used the V-12 engine. This one was a stick (many Series III cars were automatic). There were rough spots, but it was about as reasonably-priced an E-Type as you’ll find for $39,000.

 

Jurrasic World comes to Hershey
Jurassic World comes to Hershey

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, Nov. 15 2015

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Our final drive of the 2015 season took place on Sunday, November 15. The day dawned sunny, dry, and as the weatherman might say, “seasonably warm”, with midday temps approaching 60 degrees. The emails with regrets I had received during the week led me to believe that we would have a light turnout. This was incorrect, as we had 11 cars and 15 guys, not too shabby! As has been the tradition this year, two gents new to the group joined us for the first time. We must be doing something right.

We pushed off from our usual Mahwah Sheraton Crossroads departure point at 9 a.m., one hour later than usual, in deference to the shorter November days. Heading down Route 287 South, yours truly was all too happy to cruise in the Miata with the top down, but not too many other convertibles took advantage of the sunshine, at least not at first.

Beautiful day for a cruise (photo courtesy Rich S.)
Beautiful day for a cruise (photo courtesy Rich S.)

Our destination for the morning was Stella G’s, an excellent breakfast joint in Hackettstown, NJ. We’ve been there before, but not this year. The drive consisted of three roads: Route 287 South to Route 23 North to Route 517 South. A new tradition is the now-obligatory pit-stop, christened the “Bill Whited fuel and bathroom break”. This time it was a Quick Chek. Your scribe observed that once we stop and let everyone start yapping again, it can be problematic to get the boys back into their cars.

The others follow the Corvette (as they should)
The others follow the Corvette (as they should)

After a beautiful cruise down Route 517 (we will NOT mention that the chase car made a wrong turn and ended up on Route 80), we were at Stella G’s at exactly 11 a.m. Customer Service in the state of NJ can indeed be spoken about in the present tense, as proven today. We called Stella G’s twice to ask them about seating 15 arrivals, and even though they do not take reservations on the weekend, we walked in at 11 a.m. sharp to find tables reserved and set for our large crowd. The food, coffee, and service were excellent as they always are at Stella G’s (thank you Kate!).

We were having too good a time. It was difficult for the group to leave the restaurant, and leave Hackettstown, knowing that we would not have the opportunity to do this again until the spring of 2016. Since time moves faster the older we get, it remains an unspoken truth that our first drive of the New Year will be here soon enough. To a man, we can’t wait.

 

All photographs (except as noted) copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Dad’s 1966 Buick Sportwagon

My father was always a GM guy, at least through most of my boyhood. Later on he moved away from General Motors products, first with a Mustang, and then some Japanese cars. But during most of the time I lived with my family, my dad’s daily driver was either a new Chevrolet or a used Pontiac or Buick.

It was probably 1969 when, while perusing the Sunday classifieds, he mentioned to me that Reedman’s in PA had a used Buick in which he was interested. At that time, Reedman’s Auto Mall had a reputation as one of the largest used car dealers in the Northeast. While they did sell new cars, they never seemed to advertise them. Years before the advent of the automotive superstore, they regularly ran newspaper ads which featured their gigantic pre-owned inventory. Located in Langhorne, PA (and still in existence today as Reedman-Toll), it was an hour ride from our house on Staten Island. Dad invited me to accompany him to check out the car, a 1966 Buick Sportwagon. He had never before involved me in any aspect of a vehicle purchase, and I was utterly thrilled.

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We arrived and found the car. The concept of a gold station wagon did nothing to excite me. But its list of comfort and convenience features did. This car had factory a/c, power windows and seat, AM/FM radio, and cruise control. NO vehicle in the Reina family fleet up until now had ANY ONE of these, much less all of them in one automobile. A second glance at the body style made me realize that this “Sportwagon” had the second windshield above the rear seat, as did the more aptly named Olds Vista-Cruiser. So this was something cool, at least as station wagons go.

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The passage of time has caused me to completely forget the dealer’s asking price. A check of my Encyclopedia of American Cars tells me that a 1966 Buick 2-row custom Sportwagon carried a base MSRP of $3,155. What could the price have been on a 3-year-old example, $1,900? Whatever it was, I begged my father to buy the car. He did. We traded in the Corvair; I think we actually drove the Corvair there and drove home in the Buick, the deal done in one day.

 
The Buick became mom’s car; dad was still driving the ’63 Pontiac Catalina (of which I have no photos). (Writing that previous sentence brought out a chuckle in me; in the 1960s, wives had no input in the selection of their cars – their husbands just bought them and brought them home.) He was soon about to get his Mustang, which is a story for another time. I got my driver’s license in 1971, and by 1973, mom was ready for a new car. The Buick became mine. The FM radio, along with its ability to swallow my drum set, were its best features. By far its worst feature was the 8 miles-per-gallon I was achieving in local Staten Island driving. By 1974, when the first gas crisis hit, the fillup costs were crushing my meager budget. The Buick was also using a quart of oil about every 500 miles. It was sold for $400. I bought a Fiat 124 Sport Coupe, which could get an amazing-for-its-time TWENTY miles per gallon!

 
Buick Sportwagons never appear at any of the various car shows and auctions I attend. Hagerty’s Classic Car Price Guide pins the value of one today (Nov. 2015) at $9,850. Gee, if I had only held onto it….

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.