Pa. man to drive down memory lane

October 19, 1997


Staff Writer

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Next weekend, hundreds of vintage cars, none newer than 1935, will head for the Deep South to a small town in southwest Georgia near the Florida line to run in the Glidden Tour, a competition that used to test the mettle and the metal of cars built in the first decade of this century.

Today the Glidden Tour, like the cars that run in it, has been restored.

It's a social event today, a rolling car show that will cover more than 600 miles in five days of driving," said Martin Lum, owner of Older Car Restoration in Mont Alto.

Lum, 56, said he's done total restorations on at least 16 cars and major work on 35 others often turning rusted old hulks into show quality automobiles for himself and customers.


Later this week he'll crank up one of his proudest efforts, a maroon 1930 DeSoto roadster, drive it into a covered trailer and haul it to Thomasville, Ga., the site of the 1997 Glidden Tour.

It's his first time.

"We finished sending our twin sons through MIT. Both have master's degrees in engineering and are working on jobs. Now my wife Jennifer and I have time and the money to do things like this. We're really looking forward to it. We'll be gone about 10 days," he said.

Lum bought the DeSoto 10 years ago. He stripped away parts until it was down to its frame and started over.

He admits it looks better today than it did when it was brand new, when it sold for about $900. Being a roadster, it has no heater, no roll-up mirrors, its canvas roof is raised by hand and it has a rumble seat sticking up where the trunk should be. The trunk rides over the rear bumper and looks just like ... a trunk.

The first Glidden Tour was held in 1905 and ran from New York City to Bretton Woods, N.H., a round-trip distance in those days of 870 miles.

It was designed to be a grueling grind that would decide which were the best cars of the day. Thirty-four vehicles started out and 27 finished. The trophy went to a Pierce Great Arrow, driven by Percy P. Pierce, its maker.

Pierce repeated the win in 1906. In 1907 the trophy was shared by a White Steamer and a Stoddard-Dayton on a round-trip, 1,570-mile run from Cleveland, Ohio, to New York City.

"The purpose of the Glidden was to see which cars could run the distance," Lum said.

Lum said cars will come to Georgia from all over the country. "It's a social event now. It's not a race. A few of the cars will be one-cylinder models that were made in the first decade of this century. Many of them can't do more than 20 miles-per-hour," he said.

His DeSoto can cruise a modern highway at 55 to 60 mph, he said.

The award-winning DeSoto has only been run about 220 miles since Lum finished its restoration five years ago. The Glidden Tour will triple that in one week of driving, he said.

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