Classic wheels raise Christmas cash

May 12, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - Unable to get more funding for a pet project, Williamsport employees took a different tack: They raised money themselves.

About 185 cars, trucks and motorcycles rolled into Byron Memorial Park on Saturday for a day of preening, revving and lounging in the sun.

Mayor James G. McCleaf II said employees wanted more money for the town's annual Christmas display, which draws streams of spectators to the park, but the money wasn't there.

Instead, Les Guessford, the town's foreman, and Bobby Talhelm of the public works department held a car show.

They got more than two dozen sponsors. McCleaf said every town employee, including most of the town council, volunteered his or her time at the event.


Guessford wasn't sure how much money the show would raise.

"We're hoping in the thousands," he said.

Vehicle owners paid $10 apiece to compete for about 70 trophies.

The Downsville Ruritan donated proceeds from its food sales. Other groups pitched in.

Some employees were part of the show, too.

Guessford brought his 1970 Ford Mustang Fastback. Talhelm had a 1950 Ford pickup truck.

Councilman Jeff Cline hung out under a shady tree with his father, Harry, and the 1949 Chevrolet Deluxe that Harry Cline has had for 41 years.

The hoods of dozens of cars and trucks were propped wide open, like patients at the dentist.

Boards explained each vehicle - a 1937 International truck, a 1931 Ford Model A, a 1948 Chevrolet pickup street rod with a 454-cubic-inch engine.

Newer models included a 2004 Dodge SRT-4 and a 2006 Ford Mustang Saleen.

Owners displayed trophies and photos documenting the restoration process.

Ray Batten's 1965 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport convertible looked sharp enough to have been restored. But Batten, a recent transplant from Annapolis to Hagerstown, said he's done little more than paint it since he bought it 15 years ago.

Asked how the car rides, he said, "Lovely - like a Cadillac."

Stacy A. Crabtree Sr. of Hagerstown said he and a friend spent seven years building his 1932 Chevrolet pickup. Other than a last detail or two, they're finished, as of last year, Crabtree said.

He worked on other vehicles until he got knee-deep in working on the truck.

"I kind of sacrificed all the rest of them for this," Crabtree said.

The pickup appeals to him because of its 1930s "gangster look," he said.

Classic cars can be time-chewing addictions, said Jeff Johann, who lives near Hedgesville, W.Va. He said he has a horse shed packed with car parts, but no horse.

He and his wife, Monika, whiled away the afternoon near her car, a 1981 Gazelle reproduction of a 1929 Mercedes Benz - built on the chassis of a 1981 Pinto.

Not far away was Jeff Johann's car - a hodgepodge Volkswagen Beetle with a 1974 body, a 1966 chassis and an engine and transmission of unknown years.

"Volkswagens are a strange beast," he said. "You just rebuild them over and over."

The Beetle is for sale - $5,000 or best offer. Jeff Johann said the car must go because he's building a house.

"Daddy needs a new roof," he joked.

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