THE VETERAN CAR CLUB OF AMERICA’S MEETING AT FRAMINGHAM CENTER
IT may not be generally known that interest in veteran and vintage cars is not by any means confined to this country. In France there are at least two clubs which cater for early motor cars. In Germany and Italy there are several museums with extremely -inter
esting collections of early vehicles. It may, however, conic as a surprise to some to learn that there are in the U.S.A. a large number of enthusiasts who own and run old motor cars.
The president of The Veteran Car Club Of America, Professor Dean A. Pales, recently sent to Thu Carson, the secretary of the Vintage Sports-Car Club, a number of extremely interesting photographs taken at a meeting which the American club held recently at a ” buggy track ” at Framingham Center. A cutting from the ” Boston Herald” gives an :account of the meeting in rather entertaining American journalese. “2,00(1 See 75 Wheezy Horseless Buggies Stunt”—” High seated heirlooms wheezed out of family garages to prove they were as good as in grandfather’s day.” Not all the competing vehicles had led sheltered lives in family garages, however. There were some “fourwheeled antiques rescued from junk piles” which had had to be carefully reconditioned by their enthusiastic owners. The atmosphere of the meeting seems to have been very different from that of the annual R.A.C. Run to Brighton. The bleakness of Hyde Park at 8 a.m. on a November morning contrasts strangely with the garden-party-cummusical-comedy spirit at Fratningham
Center. Bright sunshine, costumes of Victorian and Edwardian days, ” veils, goggles, flounces and plumes,” and the president, as master of ceremonies, ‘ wearing the tigerskin vest of the Kennebmik Beach Chowder and Marching Club.”
In addition to the “75 Wheezy Horseless Buggies,” there were quite a number of veteran motorists as well. F. 0. Stanley was there to watch Fred Marriott (who covered a mile at over 127 m.p.h. in a Stanley steam car as long ago as 1906), driving one of the foriner’s early productions in some of the events. Ralph de Palma, who, it is claimed, has won 2,000 motor races in thirty-five years, handled a huge 1907 F.I.A.T. racing-car and Mrs. Phcebe L. Helliwell, one of America’s earliest women motorists, drove a 1903 Stanley steam car. One of the best ” period pieces ” was Major A. Erland Goyette’s 1904 Cadillac four-seater with crew all dressed in the then contemporary fashion. The only thing which betrays the fact that the photograph of this turnout was not taken thirty-five years ago, is part of a modern American saloon car which intrudes itself into the background. Major Goyette has a collection of twenty-five early motor cars. Miss Eleonora Sears also wore appropriate costume to go with her grey, chain-driven 1912 Simplex
touring-car. Early bicycles with riders in top hats and ” cutaways” paraded. There were penny farthings and ” A Bicycle Made for Two” on which the riders sat sociably side by side. Two interesting early American cars had a thrilling neck and neck match, which the elder machine, G. Waterman’s 1899 Winton, won. This was the earliest
American car at the meeting. Its opponent was K. H. Gibson’s 1900 Knox Three-wheeler, the chassis of which is rigidly mounted on the axles, the body being suspended on three full elliptic springs. Steering is by means of :a tiller attached to a kind of bicycle front fork. Waterman and Gibson between them have a collection of 125 vehicles, it is said. The high spot of the afternoon to most English enthusiasts would undoubtedly have been the five-lap Grand Prix event. The entry included some very fine cars : a 1907 Mercer, a 1907 Renault, apparently a sister car to Anthony Mills’s ” Agatha,” which ran at the Crystal Palace and at Shelsley Walsh last season ; a 1908 Mercedes, which closely resembles the big white car on which Lautenschlager won the 190$ Grand Prix ; and a huge red 1907 F.I.A.T. racing car which, with its towering engine, would make Heal’s little 10-litre machine look like a doodle bug. Ralph de Palma, clad in white overalls, drove this monster. Having gained an initial lead, he held the car to the inside of the track, and won the
race. Apparently the course limited the speed to about 55 m.p.h. A 1914 Stutz Bearcat, which its owner had driven down from New York that morning, finished second, and the Renault was third. The F.I.A.T, was thought to be the car on which dc Palma won the Savannah Race in 1907. There were a number of gymkhana events which entailed, negotiating obstacles and carrying glasses of water
without spilling. George Crittenden, who started racing in 1900, won one such obstacle race in his 1907 Buick runabout.
The secretary of the club drove around in an elegant 1910 Packard saloon and A. E. Ullmann, who is described as the “Club’s European Agent,” was showing off his latest acquisition, a 1903 Peugeot ” roadster ” with which he had just come back safely across the U-boat infested Atlantic. The ” Boston Herald” also records that there were two Panhards (1901 and 1903), a 1904 Jewell and” a red and black Unic taxicab—bought off a London street –which had an authentic Piccadilly accent.” From Professor Pales’ photographs it seems that there were several other noteworthy cars present which are not mentioned by the “Boston Herald.” An 1899 Benz with a beautiful Cape hood and large candle lamps. A slender chaindriven Isotta with large bolster tank. A curious looking air-cooled Knox with a large luggage trunk in front where most cars have a radiator. A twocylinder Ford with small wheels, forward mounted radiator and full-elliptic front springs. A sedate little two-cylinder Renault which still proudly displays the badge of the Touring Club de France. A more sportive four-cylinder Renault with two bucket seats and the charac
teristic five-spoked steering wheel. A frail-looking Oldsmobile, an even more spidery Orient Buckboard, and a couple of single-cylinder de Dions.
With so many veteran and vintage cars in this country hibernating for the duration under protective coatings of c.)il and grease, it is refreshing to hear of our more fortunate American cousins being able to exercise their precious machines and enjoying (to quote the ” Boston Herald ” again) ” a four hour program in an atmosphere of dust, sunlight and pre-historically carbureted gasoline.”