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Auto showroom offers nostalgia galore

February 07, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - If you're old enough to have been in World War II, you're in for a nostalgic rush at Dean Hebb's auto showroom on Pa. 16 west of Waynesboro.

If you grew up in the fabulous fifties or the revolutionary sixties, there's a car in the showroom to renew the excitement of a steamy night at the drive-in theater, a Motown memory or a Beatles tune.

In the last 15 years, Hebb, 66, owner of Buchanan Auto Park new and used-car dealership in Waynesboro, has collected more than 30 vintage and classic cars and parked them in his showroom, a former furniture store on Pa. 16 two miles west of Waynesboro.

He started in the used car business at age 18 with a lot in Waynesboro, which he called Hebb Motor Sales. In 1964, he became the Tri-State area's first Toyota dealer, a business he owned until 1989 when he sold it to an auto dealership chain in Chambersburg, Pa.

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"Cars have always been my ambition. I worked in a filling station when I was 14," he said.

Hebb doesn't just collect these cars, he pampers them with dehumidified air, keeps their batteries charged and their paint polished. And it's not a museum. The cars are for sale - for a lot more than they ever cost new.

He doesn't advertise his cars. Out of curiosity, most people come to the showroom, which is seldom open, to see a car that represents something from their past.

"This is an expensive hobby. Only about one out of 50 people who come in here have the money to buy one of these cars," he said.

As Hebb talked, Steven McDonough, 45, of Hagerstown, parked his 1984 Ford Ranger pickup out front and ambled in. "Every time I drive by here, it's always closed," McDonough said. "I saw the lights on today."

He asked Hebb whether the bright yellow 1968 Dodge Coronet 500 convertible in the front window was for sale.

McDonough said his first car was a 1961 Comet, which he bought for $100. His second car was similar to the yellow Dodge convertible.

He said he came to see all the cars in the showroom. "Just the fact that they're all in pristine shape. He could do a parade all by himself."

Hebb told McDonough to stay in touch. "If you get some money together and want to make a dream come true, come back and see me," Hebb said.

The oldest car in Hebb's collection is a black 1917 Ford Model T touring sedan with a fabric top. The newest is a white 1964 Chrysler 300. In between are some of the most popular cars from the 1930s to the '60s.

He doesn't remember which of the cars he bought first. He thinks it was the 1930 yellow and black ford Model A coupe tucked into a far back corner.

"I just started to collect. I'd see one at a sale, or somebody would tell me about one, or somebody would have one and ask me if I wanted to buy it."

Most of his cars have had some restoration, a few are in original unrestored condition. Hebb restored several himself.

Some were models like those he sold over the years at his dealerships. Among them are the pink-and-white 1956 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop coupe in the back row parked next to the low-slung, blue 1955 Studebaker President Speedster.

Denizens of the Roaring 20s - a 1923 Dodge roadster, 1924 Dodge touring sedan and 1929 Model A roadster share space in a rear corner of the showroom.

Up front sits a real rarity, a 1931 Durant coupe.

Behind it is a red 1949 Willys Jeepster. Other post-war classics are a 1950 Ford two-door with continental kit and dual exhausts. A sleek 1956 blue-and-white Ford Crown Victoria sits next to it, a testament to the model-changing hysteria that gripped Detroit in the hysteria of the 1950s that saw radically redesigned models coming out every year or so.

A mid-'50s Thunderbird, a required component of any classic car collection, is in another corner. Hebb has two of them

A 1974 Bricklin sits in front of the T-bird. It's number 164 in a production line of only 2,550 built before the Canadian sports car maker went under. "I sold four of these cars new," Hebb said.

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