Cars with charisma

June 12, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WILLIAMSPORT - A generation ago, Ken Ritter said, antique automobile shows featured the marques of motordom's classics from the early 20th century - Duesenberg, Stutz, Auburn and other vehicles of that heritage.

Most of the 70-plus vehicles on display Saturday at the Mason-Dixon Antique Automobile Club of America's antique car show at the Improved Order of Red Men club grounds outside Williamsport were of 1950s, '60s and '70s vintage.

Ritter, 58, of Hagerstown, had his yellow 1973 Jaguar XKE sports on the field.

"Collectible cars are generational," Ritter said. "Twenty years ago, you saw Duesenbergs, Auburns and cars like that, but the people who owned them died off. Now, people own collectible cars from the 1950s, '60s and '70s."


Ritter was sitting under an awning with some friends. Among them were Charles and Barbara Embly, both 54, of Clear Spring.

Parked in front of the awning was the "bumblebee," the Emblys' black and yellow 1955 Ford Sunliner convertible. Charles Embly bought it fully restored from a restoration shop in Victoria, British Columbia. He found it on eBay.

New, the Ford cost about $3,500, Embly said.

"It's for sale for $54,000, he said. "The bottom line is, it's worth what somebody will pay for it."

Ritter spoke of the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., as one of the top auctions for collectible cars.

"You can buy a car there for an astronomical amount of money, then drive off and it's worth half of what you paid for it," he said.

"Yes, that can happen if you bid very foolishly," said Martin Lum, owner of an antique car restoration business in Mont Alto, Pa. Lum, a judge at national collector car events, spoke from his home in Fayetteville, Pa.

"This is an expensive hobby," said Howard Myers of Smithsburg, chief judge for Saturday's show. "Most people have more money in their cars than they're worth.

"People fly airplanes, go down the river in boats and own vacation homes. We buy cars."

Myers owns 1954 and 1956 Hudsons.

"That's what I drove as a kid," Myers said. "Nine chances out of 10, you'll find that people have cars that they drove when they were kids."

Parked not far from Embly's Ford, not as flashy but equally loved, was Jerry Caldwell's green 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook sedan.

"This car is all original," Caldwell said.

Caldwell bought it seven years ago from Roger Reedy of Hagerstown, he said. He does his own work on the car and doesn't worry about finding parts for it in spite of its 54 years.

"I've never had to put any parts on it," he said. "It only has about 73,000 miles on it."

Next to Caldwell's car was a blue 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook sedan. Except for the colors, the cars looked identical to a novice eye. Not to Caldwell. He pointed to several differences in emblems, hood ornaments and dashboard features.

Frank Spielman, chairman of the show, said the local club, which covers the Tri-State area, has more than 240 members.

"We're in the club to preserve antique cars for future generations," he said.

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