Saturday, April 26, 2008

Driving Through History

While browsing through stock photos this week, I can across the picture of an antique car and it brought back memories of my childhood. I grew up with a strong sense of history, and part of it came from my father's hobby of restoring vintage automobiles. Over the years he had many old cars, but one of my favorites was a two-cylinder, 1909 Buick. It was a beautiful car, with maroon paint and matching leather-padded seats, and brass lights and trim. My mom liked the car, too, until it was time to polish the brass, a job that usually fell to her. With only two cylinders, the Buick wasn't exactly a speed demon, but it sure turned heads when we drove it around town.

Antique Car
© Photographer: Reefer

In the 1950s and 1960s, restoring old cars was a good family hobby. There was meet somewhere on almost every weekend, and there were always lots of kids there. The cars would be judged, based on how authentically they'd been restored, and my dad wracked up a bunch of trophies over the years. It was also a chance to get dressed up in vintage clothing, and one year my mom and dad and I won a prize for "best-dressed family". I have a picture of us somewhere and I'll have to digitize it one of these days. Later, rich collectors got into the hobby and ran up the prices so it wasn't as affordable for middle-class folks.

My other favorite of my dad's old cars was his 1928 Model A Ford roadster, and sure enough, I found a stock photo of one very like it. (See below.) My dad bought the Model A in 1956 for $250.00, a bargain price even then. After he'd fixed it up, the man who sold it to him regretted his decision, and eventually bought it back from Dad when he grew too old to work on it anymore. As a child, I spent many an hour in the rumble seat, and when I was old enough, Dad taught me to drive it. Thankfully, it rarely needed to be cranked to start up the engine (unlike the older Buick), but it had a double-clutch system, so it was more challenging to drive than most cars of the time. It was an incredibly reliable car and it moved along pretty well, about 45-50 mph, so we could even take it on the freeway if necessary.

1928 Ford Model A Roadster
© Photographer: Margojh

Did your family have a hobby and did you enjoy it as much as I did?



kathleenrowland said...

Linda, what a fun family hobby. Dressing up in vintage clothing must have added to the excitement. I love old cars because they seem to have personalities. -Kathleen Rowland

Linda McLaughlin said...

Kathleen, I agree that the old cars have personality. There were a lot more car companies then, so the designs varied more. I think the 1930s were the golden age of auto design, at least as far as the car bodies went. Some of the cars made then are just beautiful and elegant.


deboradale said...

What great memories, Linda. I loved reading about them. It reminded me of the car shows they used to have in my town. Once a month - nothing like what you describe - just kids, late teens and early twenties showing off their hot rods. Fun.

My father worked three jobs so there wasn't time for hobbies but I remember him talking about an old English Ford he once had. He said in order to make it up a decent sized hill, he had to speed up well before it to pick up momentum. Otherwise, he wouldn't make it. LOL. It was such a fragile thing that during one New York winter night, he covered the engine with my grandmother's fur coat!!! Can't tell you how long it took him to pay her back for that! :-)


Linda McLaughlin said...


Your dad's old Ford sounds like our Buick. We'd chant "I think I can" all the way up the hill as that poor old two-banger slowly toiled up.

The fur coat story is sooo funny. I can just imagine the look on her face. ROFL


Sandy Levin said...

Great hobby. I can't remember any hobby we did as a family. I used to like puzzles, but that was a solitary activity.