VAE 50th Anniversary Book

Have you bought your copy of the VAE 50th Anniversary Book yet? If not, you’re missing out on an extremely interesting book of information on your club and it’s members. There is still time, and the book would made an excellent gift to someone. This is Vermont history in the making.

If you turn to the very last page, you will see some wonderful pictures of the Skinner family. Especially interesting is the picture of Phyllis who is decked out in her Easter finery. Her attire speaks volumes about the 40’s style.

I spoke with Phyllis about her outfit, and interestingly enough, Les remembered more about the colors. She is wearing a dress with a matching hat, short swing jacket with a Peter Pan collar, white gloves, and MaryJane shoes.

The lack of a purse makes me guess that it is in the car. It’s lots of fun to guess the colors of her dress and jacket, and the first person that can guess the correct colors will receive a VAE 50th Anniversary Mug from me as a gift.

When I asked Phyllis if her stockings had a seam in the back of them, she told me a story about a friend who went shopping at Filene’s.

There was a great sale going on for nylon stockings. She couldn’t wait to get home to try them on. Much to her dismay, she realized why they were such a good buy … the stockings had been made with the seam in front!

The thing I disliked the most about nylon stockings, is the fact that they never seemed to stay up properly, and the garter belts were very uncomfortable.

We have a much better deal today with pantyhose. And ladies, did you realize that your pantyhose might someday come in handy to keep your car on the road?

In an emergency they will make a great belt for your cars engine if it should break. It wouldn’t be the first time that an article of clothing or hairpin came in handy, and saved the day getting an engine running again.

The Heine-Velox in Hemmings – Motoring Moment

It might be assumed that many old car “enthusiasts” probably see, and at least scan, Hemmings Motor News on a fairly regular basis. You may have caught the ad in the July issue on the top of page 501. Some person at a ten-digit phone number was offering a Heine-Velox for sale. The ad says it’s a 1921, 148” wheelbase, one of five made and it is “to restore”. He’ll trade for pre-war cars or trucks. Interesting ad. Heine-Velox – it sounded familiar somehow but how?

1921 Heine-VeloxMemory (senior moments aside) and some research recalled that the Heine-Velox was an early example of hydraulic brakes by Lockheed and probably why the name was a little familiar. Sort of like Rickenbacker, Jordan and some other early “juice brake people”.

But – the Heine-Velox story itself is really a lot more interesting than Lockheed brakes. It seems like the Heine Piano Company of San Francisco was doing well in 1903 when its owner got the car bug and became one of the first Ford dealers on the west coast.
In 1904 he added “Queen” to his agency and announced that he would build a car of his own design as well. In the next couple of years he planned cars priced from four to eight thousand dollars (what were his Fords selling for I wonder?) Actually he did manage to build and sell a few of the less expensive ones – and planned a big production run of 50 cars for late 1906… now called the Heine-Velox.

God stepped in and the great San Fran earthquake wiped out his plant, production and plans. The piano factory was lost as well and Mr. Heine went back to the key product, rebuilding the piano factory but having set aside his auto interests.

Time passed and it was now 1921. The Heine-Velox returned. This time it was no Ford or Queen… or even the earlier Heine-Velox. The new version was a 12 cylinder by Weidely to Heine specifications on a huge 148” wheelbase. Not only big… but this was an expensive car. The sport model was priced at $17,000 with the custom built versions priced up to $25,000! Wow – this was 1921 and the US was struggling with post war depression. According to the Standard Catalog of American cars only 6 of these giants were produced… a sporting Victoria, 3 sedans and an unfinished limo.

Mr. Heine gave away these cars… never keeping one for himself – he probably couldn’t afford it. In 1923 the Heine-Velox company was dissolved.

And now… here is a Heine-Velox in Hemmings on page 501. You could trade a pre-war car or truck and have an example of the most expensive American car offered for sale in 1921. If it were the sporting model it would be the biggest 4-passenger car offered as well. Boy… would you look slick at Shelburne and Stowe. Could the Hemmings car be the only “sport model”? Do you want the phone number? As May West said… “He who hesitates is last.”

Another motoring moment brought to you by your old car club.

Enthusiast of the Month: Tom McHugh

Tom McHughRegular readers will know that during our 50th year (2003) Wheel Tracks has been sharing information on some of our most special members… those that have by their time, ability and continued work, have won our “Big E” award. We all are Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts and the Big E is for Super Enthusiasm.

This month’s nod goes to a two time president who is still young enough to do it again… except he has been so busy doing so many other things for the club that there hasn’t been time. Our 1979 President, Gen Morgan, endorses this Big E as follows:


Who is Mr. Flea Market of the VAE? It’s Tom McHugh of course. Tom has been doing the flea markets for all shows for many years. Before completing requests for vendor spots for the Shelburne show, he is also receiving requests for the Stowe show. It is now small task to handle the correspondence, phone calls and emails.

Tom goes to Stowe a week previous to the event to get everything organized. For instance, he draws a good size map, which shows the location in the field of every vendor. It is a most convenient sort of reference. The trailer has become an information center.

Tom joined the club in 1971, did the offices and served as president in 1974 and again in 1989. He has hosted home meets with chicken BBQs, planned mystery tours, and worked on Wheel Tracks to name a few activities. In other words, you name it and he has done it for the club.

With his committee, he has just finished the Book of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Club. A lot of hours were spent on this project. As a result, we have a wonderful book of VAE history, which also includes many fine photos. The membership is gratefully appreciative of all the work and effort involved. Tom is retired from General Dynamics but has gone back to work for the company again.

Besides his interest in Antique Cars, of which the Oldsmobile is his favorite, he also collects antiques and is interested in genealogy. Somehow he finds time to be a volunteer tour guide for Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington.

Tom is a busy person, but never too busy to help or chair an event for the VAE. Oh, and don’t forget his bean hole beans!

The Club extends condolences to Tom and his family on the recent death of his granddaughter, Jennifer.


Congratulations Tom for work well done and thanks Gen, for reminding us that it is people like Tom McHugh that keep the “E” in the VAE.

Infamous Lemons: 1938 Phantom Corsair

1938 Phantom CorsairThe Corsair, based on a Cord automobile chassis, was more an out-right failure of styling than of design. The Cord Company had been responsible for some very good-looking automobiles. This was party because Cord chassis, with their high-performance engines and exotic front-wheel-drive configuration, were naturals for any designer with a yen for sleekness and and exclusivity. Among the designers Cord cooperated with were Gordon Buehrig and Carl Van Ranst, who turned out notable designs for the L-29, the 810 and 812 Berline.

There were, however, those designers who had dreams of beauty and elegance but were unable to realize them – either through their own love of idiosyncrasy, or through lack of talent. Perhaps the worst designs were those perpetrated by the designer with zeal but unclear purpose

The design was supposed to be a sleek, futurist bombshell of a car, powered by a high-performance Lycoming straight-eight engine. In a way it was ahead of its time with completely faired-in fenders, and a low silhouette. Its proportions, however, were all wrong, and the fender sides dropped straight down from the windows like the sand guards on British Crusader tanks of the period – an effect that was only emphasized by the full skirts on the front and rear wheels.

The headlights were like cat’s eyes, vertical slit units set in sockets that were molded bulbs of metal. They strongly resembled the eyes of a semi-submerged hippopotamus and evoked a sense of bemused loneliness. As a whole the car looked fat and behind the strange front end, the sides ran back in unbroken plainness, without even door handles in the seamless panels.

A limited production run was planned but never realized. This may be due to the car’s reception in its big chance at a public-relations coup… the car was featured in the 1938 Selznick International Films motion picture “Young at Heart” staring Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Janet Gaynor. The Corsair emerged from this venture with a new, popular moniker – “The Flying Wombat”.

Increase VTC Scholarship Donation

Vermont Life Magazine is partnering with the VAE to raise money for the Vermont Technical College Scholarship Fund. Vermont Life is offering VAE members a discounted price for a one-year subscription, just $13.95. That’s $2.00 off the regular $15.95 subscription price.

And with every new paid subscription, renewal or gift subscription from this offer received by January 1, 2004 – Vermont Life Magazine will donate $5.00 to the VAE’S Vermont Technical College Scholarship Fund!

Call 1-800-284-3243 by January 1, 2004 and give the operator code “VAE03” to subscribe, renew or to give gift subscriptions. Gift donors will receive gift announcement cards.

For each address outside the US, please add $6.00. Vermont Life Magazine accepts VISA, MasterCard, and Discover Card or if you prefer, you may request to be billed.