1955 Studebaker President Speedster

Gary Sassi’s life was really good before he was infected by the “old-car-bug”.

His Dad, Gino, was a lifelong stone carver in Barre, Vermont and Gary grew up in his Dad’s shop, learning the trade. When the time came, Gary decided he wanted to go back to his family’s old country to further his training, where he speaks the language fluently. After four years he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cararra, Italy. Today, he will have been in the trade for fifty–five years. His family’s work can be found in many parts of the world, but you can easily find Sassi masterpieces here in Vermont, especially at Hope Cemetery in Barre.

Gary Sassi
and his beautiful
1955 Studebaker President
Speedster.

And then life got really good, when someone in his shop showed Gary a picture of a restored old car in a magazine, and the old car bug infection happened!

It was not long before the space age Studebaker caught his eye and any self restraint that remained was toast. The unrestored 1955 Studebaker President Speedster (pictured below) was soon parked at his shop, one of 2215, built that he found in Los Angeles. Eighteen months later, Gary had finished his restoration.

One big difference in this perfect factory restoration and others that you see in magazines, is the owner had his hand in much of it. Friend, Gary Scott, has a collision repair shop in the area and he worked his magic on the body and paint, while Sassi covered the country retrieving needed parts and spent every free minute of the 18 months doing his part.

The project was completed about 22 years ago and Gary decided to see what others thought of his Studebaker. He decided to enter the car in the VAE Shelburne Show to be judged. That iswhen he met VAE Judge Gene Napoliello. Gene looked the car over and found only one item “not factory”, a tailpipe clamp on the dual exhaust system. When Gary produced the correct clamp, Gene proceeded to crawl under the car and install it; he then proclaimed the President Speedster “Best of Show”. With his background in stone carving and the need for exacting detail, Gary knew he was proficient there, but he says he had not realized how that trait influenced the Studebaker project until the day Gene presented that award. In fact what Gary thought was just a normal restoration turned out to be one of the best. Some of the awards pictured right are just part of the total impact the President has made over the past 22 years.

Unrestored 1955 Studebaker President Speedster

There was still an old car virus problem the President did not cure, when a Studebaker cousin showed up in Barre along with 50 boxes of parts and pieces. A new beginning for a 1957 Golden Hawk, and a hopeful cure for Mr. Sassi. He had rebuilt the 4-barreled 259 engine in the Speedster, so he had no problem diving into the Hawk’s 289 engine, until he got to the McCullough supercharger…. that was new territory! Friend Gary Scott did his magic on the body while Sassi did his on the rest, and soon there was a very gold vehicle traveling the streets of Barre.

1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk

The latest quest for the cure is a 1965 Fastback Mustang. The engine is sitting on a stand at the Sassi shop, being rebuilt. The body resides in Gary Scott’s garage.

A discussion came about when the Mustang color needed to be decided upon. Mr. Sassi does not like silver, the correct color for the car, and Mr. Scott does not like going “non-factory”. The winner is, says Mr. Sassi with a grin………….Mr. Scott!

Gary Scott’s involvement with his first complete restoration was the Speedster, twenty-two years ago. Since then, he has become very well known in the auto restoration business.

The famous “Gene Napoliello exhaust clamp”

Pictured left is the famous “Gene Napoliello exhaust clamp”. The impact he has made at our annual August show with our judging program is undeniable. Gary Sassi will also tell you of the impact Gene has had on him for restoration correctness. Mr. Sassi has been a VAE judge for the past 22 years.

We lost Gene when he passed away this last April. Mark Bennett has now taken Gene’s place as Chief Judge.

The Studebaker Company began in 1852 where they built wagons in South Bend, Indiana. Their first automobile was an ‘electric’ in 1902 then a ‘gasoline vehicle’ in 1904. In the beginning they partnered with the Garford Company, then EMF and then Flanders. In 1912, Studebaker dropped all affiliations and produced its first fully-built automobile. The last Studebaker rolled off the assembly line in Hamilton, Ontario on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 1966

1976 Shay Model A

After 43 years of dreaming about Shay Automobiles, Paul Wagner finally has one… thanks to his persistence and his wife’s dickering abilities.

I first heard of the Shay Model A when a Ticonderoga, NY, dealer advertised one in 1979. Did I want one? YES! But we were raising a family on our dairy farm. We didn’t have $11,000.00 available for a toy. They were expensive by our standards.

In 1979, the first and last brand new car I bought was a Chevy Malibu wagon, so the whole family could be comfortable, for $6200.00

I have been watching sales of Shay Model A’s for 40 years, but available ones were primarily in Texas, Florida or other parts of the country, not in Vermont.

In September 2020, I finally found one for sale near Albany, NY. Not that far from home in Vermont. We had sold the farm, the kids were married and doing their own thing, so I finally could have my toy. I called on the ad only to find the fella had sold it the day before. Darn!!! So, I put a wanted ad on Shay’s website, and two hours later I got a call from the fella who bought the Albany car. After talking to him, I found he had purchased the car to help his friend and just
wanted to resell it.

1979 Shay Auto
Based on a 1928-9 Model A Ford

I was thinking the new owner had it for only three days, “What’s wrong with it?” I got directions, only 121 miles. My wife, Barbara, and I decided to go see the car. It was dove gray, super deluxe, with leather rumble seat, dual spare tires, and automatic transmission. I was excited! It did have a few flaws. The radiator leaked and the fella said there were no brakes. I could fix that. It still had the original tires and they were not road worthy. The car had 14,215 actual miles on the odometer. The previous owner had bought the car six years earlier at an estate auction in Florida for $10,500, plus the 10% auction fee for a total of $11,550, and the cost to get it home.

The original fella had been short of money and had to sell the Model A, plus five other classic cars. The gent selling it to me started at $14,500. Then my wife went back and forth with him and we ended up paying $11,500. You just have to know how to dicker!

I put on four new tires, re-cored the radiator and heater, added new ball joints, a fuel pump and plugs. We were ready to go. I have given many people a ride in my Shay Model A, including VAEer Ed Hilbert. I have only given my grandchildren rides in the rumble seat. They are the only ones who can get in, and even more importantly, can get out after!

I drove it 2500 miles last year and have had seven offers to buy it, but OH NO, I waited too long for this car. I will be back behind the wheel this summer, ahooga horn and All!!!

Shay Auto 1976-1982

For the 50th Anniversary of the Model A, the Ford Motor Company released the patents to Harry Shay with permission to reproduce the 1928/9 Model A Roadster. The cars were sold by Ford dealers who had orders for 10,000 cars, as well as 200, 1955 Thunderbird reproductions. In the end, only 5500 Model As were completed from 1979 to 1980, with a few more in 1981, in Detriot, Michigan, when the Shay Company went bankrupt.

The Shay Model A has a fiberglass body and weighs 1850 pounds. It has a ‘76 Mustang frame and suspension, with a Ford 88-HP, 4-cylinder Pinto engine. Buyers had a choice of automatic or manual transmission. It has rack and pinion steering with disc brakes on front and drum brakes on back.

Top speed is 83MPH with fuel economy at 25 MPG. Base price in 1979 was $7,000 to $9,000. The deluxe model was as high as $11,500 with air conditioning.

1971 M35A2

This 1971 Army Deuce and a Half lives in White River, Vermont and is owned by Mary Kay & Dennis Brown

How did you get interested in these military trucks Dennis?

As a little kid, we used to have several convoys of Armytrucks go past our home on Rt.4 in White River Jct. VT. When I saw the convoys, I’d go out and wave to them and they’d honk for me. I made up my mind at an early age that I had to drive those trucks. When I was 18, I enlisted as a Motor Transport Operator with the US Army. I drove just about everything the Army had, from Jeeps to 20-ton trucks and loved it. I was in the Army Reserve, in Rutland’s 368th Engineer Battalion, and the NH National Guard’s 744th Transportation Company. In 1990 my unit was activated to Desert Shield/Storm. While there I drove M915 tractors with M872 trailers. Truck # 38 was mine and I was very proud of those 22 rolling wheels! My job was to transport everything from water to bombs during the ground invasion.

How long have you had your “Deuce”? Have you made any changes?

My wife, Mary Kay, and I bought this truck in 2017 from a person in northern NJ and drove it home, and I had a blast driving it back! The guy we bought it from put a lot into this truck and he loved it. He was a Vietnam Veteran and had driven these vehicles. He had this truck for similar reasons that I wanted to buy it. He’d had both of his knees replaced and couldn’t manage it anymore. He decided to sell it, although it pained him deeply to part with it. Several people inquired about buying it but wanted to turn it into a log truck or similar thing. My wife and I told him we wanted to keep it pretty much as it was; driving it and showing it off. He liked our plans and sold it to us. Since I stopped serving in the Army in 1994, I had missed driving those green (and sometimes tan) trucks, so this has been great to have, I also consider it a rolling history museum. During many of the shows we’ve gone to, I’ve taken great pride in showing some of its unique military features, like its absence of keys to start it, its pioneer kit, and blackout drive lights.

*** Do It Now Or Walk Later ***

Are you enjoying being a member of the Green Mountain Military Vehicle Club?

When my wife and I bought this truck we decided to join the GMMVC and New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley Vehicle Collectors and this has been great It’s great to be around people with like minds!

Have you made any changes to your Deuce?

This 1971 M35A2 was in great shape, so we haven’t had to do much, no huge repairs. Here’s a small list of a few changes we’ve done. Two years ago, we kept the green, but added, per manual specs & patterns, some brown and black to camouflage the paint. We also changed the Vietnam era white lettering to 1970s flat black. Additionally, we’ve put on a new right fender, new window frames, a left running board (all due to rust), and 2 new front tires. I also discreetly added a USB connection from a 12v converter, so we could charge our devices. Normally these trucks would have the unit number and truck number on the bumpers, but I decided to have some fun with this. While I was in the Army, we lived by PMCS, which stands for ‘Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services,’ so that’s what’s on one side. The other side reads DINOWL, which is short for ‘Do It Now Or Walk Later!’

WWII scene

From your editor…..

Dennis’s M35 has a Continental engine that he believes puts out 175 HP.

It is called a “6X6” because in the old days the truck had single tandem wheels in the rear. With the front wheels locked in, all six were under power. Later duallies were added to the rear, but the terminology stayed the same.

The first design for this truck was made by REO in 1944 and the first M35 delivery to the Army was in the 1950s. Production ceased in 1988, after over 150,000 “Deuces” were built. A number of companies built them for the government over the years, including Studebaker, AM General, REO and Kaiser. Bombardier of Canada and KIA of Japan also built them for their military.

Empty weight is 13,530 pounds and fully loaded for highway use, that weight can go to 23,530. Top speed is 53MPH and when the government purchased Dennis’ truck, the cost was $46,750.

The FMTV truck replaced the Deuce in 1991. The Austrian built vehicle is now built in the US and modified for US Army use.

Ford Model A Pickups

Have you ever noticed how serene Model T Pickup owners are? 

The pickups here are Model A’s and we will try to explain why their owners may not be the serene-type…

Rob Marcotte’s 1934 Ford Model 46-830 pickup

The red truck is my 1934 Ford Model 46-830 with 21 stud flathead V8. 

After many false starts looking at both Model A’s and B’s I found this one in PA. It is an amateur restoration and I do mean amateur! The previous owner worked on it for 10 years, drove it 5 times and passed away at 89 years old. It looks like he used whatever was available in his shop for screws, nuts and bolts. 

I have replaced all of the wheel bearings, 5 new tires, 2 new water pumps, rebuilt the brakes, installed an alternator, 2 temperature gauges and sorted out the cobbled up wiring. He used solid core 14 gauge house wire for the brake lights. After being stranded by the distributor a few times I just installed a Stromberg E-Fire electronic distributor and new plug wires. 

After all this I am probably going to sell it. I hate red and have found a green 1933 that is for sale. It has a newer 24 stud engine and hydraulic brakes. Looks to be more original than mine. 

I really don’t know what got me hooked on these trucks. I just think they look cool going down the road. My “perfect” Model A pickup would be 1931 wide bed with steel roof, steel bed and indented firewall. It would be either Brewster Green with black wheels or Thorne Brown with black wheels. It would have a Mitchell overdrive and a Model B engine with a counter-balanced crank shaft and insert bearings. Absolutely no whitewall tires on any truck. Also nothing chrome or stainless. These were work trucks and should look like work trucks. 

The Model A pickups do not have much room in the cabs. Apparently there weren’t any big and tall people buying trucks back then. The post 1932, 33 and 34 pickups do have a bit more room in the cabs. 

As soon as the weather breaks and mud season is over I will be putting the truck up for sale, and go look at that green one again. 

VAEer, Rob Marcotte 


Dennis Dodd’s 1931 Model A pickup

This Model A to the left is a 1931 and owned by Dennis Dodd. He is one of those guys who Rob was talking about above. Dennis has some height to him. So, along with a really nice body-off restoration he has done a few things to make more room for him self. First was to push the seat frame back about two inches, to more easily get his feet in, and he plans to make thinner cushions. He will also be cutting about two inches off the foot pedals. 

The really big move was to raise the steering wheel up about three inches. To do this, he had to remove the gas tank and rebuild the steering column attachment to the dash area. The task now is to find a place for the tank, he has a few ideas. 


The Paradis’ Ford Model A pickup

The A to the right belongs to the Paradis’ in Bakersfield. They purchased it, not too long ago, and have done some work to get it ready for the summer drive season. Joe says this is his fourth or fifth A-Pick up and the reason; he just likes the looks of them. He has changed out some damaged gears in the transmission and rear-end, and also a few minor wiring repairs. He says he never liked Moto Meters and has added a temp gauge to his dash area. 


This from your editor…… I am happy with my T-pickup, and totally in a place of sereneness Arummmmmmm. I do not want to do anything to it. 

A Raxaul rear-end and Rocky Mountain brakes came with it, what more could a feller want? 

Now to why an “A” owner might be missing the “Serene” part. I can only guess. When I am going down the road at 32 MPH, and the 20 HP engine just humming along, it is a nice day. 

Maybe the 24.03 HP engine that can make an A go 40 or 50 MPH gives out different vibes. Remember the Army tank captain, Oddball, in the “Kelly’s Hero’s” movie….now he knew his “vibes”! 

Maybe it is a hold-over Henry thing. Remember reading how much he loved his Model T’s? When his son could see other car brands passing them by, he created the model A, behind his dad’s back. So, maybe the A’s just do not have the “Henry vibe” ….do you think? 

I am sure there will be problems with my assumptions. There might even be some name-calling and such. I will simply stay in my Zen-state….. Arummmmmmm…… 

Hey Rob, Did you know the color red is the “happiness color”? 

1969 Plymouth Road Runner 

This 1969 Plymouth Road Runner was “the transportation” for Megan and Adam Shafritz when they married.

It was the fall of 1985 and Adam Shafritz was looking for a project car to work on for his Advanced Auto Mechanics class during his senior year at Mamaroneck High School (NY). 

Late 1960’s muscle cars were just seeing their resurgence. He had already done all the work he could on family and friends’ cars and wanted to advance his mechanical knowledge and abilities. With the help of a gym teacher who had bought muscle cars at auctions in the south, Adam identified one with 3 cars of interest. 

In December, Adam and his dad flew People’s Express airlines from Newark, NJ to Charlotte, NC and purchased at auction his Sunfire Yellow 1969 Plymouth Road Runner for $2,000.00. The car looked like it had undergone recent cosmetic restoration, but they were not able to test drive it prior to bidding. The other two cars of interest was a 1968 Hemi for $4000, and a Superbee for $5000. There were a few times that Adam looked back and wondered if he should have begged his dad for a loan at the auction. 

Adam and his dad then set out on a 650 mile road trip bringing the car home. They soon realized that the only things that worked were the headlights, speedometer and windshield wipers. The transmission leaked a quart of fluid every 200 miles, the engine burned a quart of oil every 500 miles, and the front-end suspension and steering was shot, causing the car to change lanes every small bump in the road. What an adventure! 

Adam, right & his teacher, Stephen Bullock 

He brought the car into the high school auto shop, where he got to work with the assistance of Stephen Bullock, his teacher, rebuilding the front-end, steering, engine and transmission. The instrument cluster and electronics were restored, and in April of 1986 the car was out of the shop and on the road. He use to show up a few minutes late to his AP Calculus class covered in grease every day where he met his future wife Megan, who took note of their math teacher’s calling Adam out regularly asking him about the car pro-ject he was working on. When the car was finished, Adam asked Megan if she wanted a ride, and the rest is history. 

They both went off to college and professional schools and the car sat in Adam’s parents’ garage for more than a decade. During that time, the car began to slowly decay and although Adam would periodically take the car out for a drive, it lost its reliability. 

In late 1999, Adam contacted Chuck Pierce from Lempster, NH and had him perform an updated restoration. It was found that the 383 block was cracked so an early 1969 casting was located, bored 0.040 over, the compression ratio was lowered and hardened valve seats were installed to allow the car to run on pump gas without the need for lead substitute. Because the car was no longer numbers matching, Chuck Pierce converted the 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission to a 4-speed manual with a Hurst shifter. To make the car stop without having to apply both feet to the brake pedal, the front drum brakes were converted to power disc. 

plymouth road runner wedding

Adam and Megan moved to South Burlington, VT in 2001 and put a garage addition onto their house to specifically house the Road Runner. They joined the VAE in 2002 and have 2 children, Emily and Justin

Justin has developed a love for all things mechanical and has picked up cars along with antique farm equipment, tractors, and hit and miss engines as hobbies. You will frequently see the two of them together at car shows with their various vehicles including a 1957 Studebaker Silver Hawk, 2008 Z-06 Corvette, 2018 Type RA Subaru and a 1919 Alamo hit and miss engine. 

The Plymouth Road Runner is a mid-size car, with a focus on performance, built between 1968 and 1980. 

Plymouth paid $50,000 to Warner Brothers to use the Road Runner name and likeness from their Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons (as well as a “beep, beep” horn, which Plymouth paid $10,000 to develop) 

American Standard Catalog reports there were 81,125 Road Runners built in addition to 3,295 built for the Canadian market. 

1903 Grout Model J Drop-front Roadster

Bill Cooke and Sarah Moon have a car they call “Tilly”. The car is a 1903 Grout. 

Above, is the completely restored Grout, a Model J Drop-front Roadster, of today. 

VAE Presidents Restoration Award
Bill and Sarah were presented the 2021 VAE President’s Restoration Award for this beautiful steam car.
Bill Cooke and Sarah Moon’s 1903 Grout, sleeping in a New Hampshire garage in the 1940s 

The story from Bill and Sarah 

Tilly, our 1903 model-J drop-front Grout, joined the family in the summer of 1967 in a group-purchase that included an ’06 Franklin, a ’23 Ford pickup, a ’16 Oakland, and a ’46 Chevy hauler. The previous owner was Harry Hopewell, a real estate developer from New Hampshire. He had purchased the Grout from a family in Maine in 1941, it had been in a wood shed from 1905. The lady of the house had “inherited” it and had a particularly bad day of driving the car, topped off with running over the neighbors cat in the driveway. 

Harry stored it in his father’s garage for the duration of the war, eventually putting it on display in Glenn Gould’s Meredith, NH car museum. Gould was in the process of moving his museum to Wells, ME when Bill’s dad, Frank Cooke made the group-purchase. At the time of purchase, Tilly was thought to be the last surviving Grout. However, a Mr. J. Beun had been working at his model J restoration since 1955. 

1903 Grout Model J  bill sarah

Tilly was running again in 1968, needing only a few mechanical repairs and eventually a paint job. The next 3 decades were pretty sweet. Lots of meets, shows, and a few cameos in local TV. Tilly made 2 ½ London to Brighton runs, 1979-81, and met another Grout in 1981, who also thought they were the sole survivor. The car kept putting away in central Massachusetts with the local car clubs calling her the only running Grout. Then in 2005, a boiler replacement project revealed a sag in the wooden frame that was threatening to break the car in half. 

The full restoration was started in 2013. The woodwork was done by Mark Herman in CT. He replaced the frame, and repaired the body panels that could be saved. The wheels were rebuilt at Stutzman’s Wheel shop in PA. We did the prep work for the paint on the body, wheels and wooden fenders, which was completed by Randy Beaudoin and Kenny Jacobs in MA. 

The boiler and burner were made by Don Bourdon in Woodstock, he also got us in touch with the man who made the copper water tank. The leather is original to the car. All the plumbing and mechanical restoration was done by us. Sarah made the boots for the top and the era inspired costumes for us. 


Bill working on the boiler 
Sarah sanding the body

Tilly enjoyed a full debut season in 2021, participating in an annual steam car tour, and 3 large car shows including the V.A.E. Waterbury show and a couple best in pre-war awards. 

Mr. Beun’s car has made it to Australia and is now active in the car community there. We now know of a dozen Grout cars world wide, and though the company started and ended with internal combustion vehicles, only the steam powered cars survived. 

1929 70A Willys Knight Sedan

Tammy and Charlie Thompson, (Daughter and Dad), are on their way to a parade in this beautiful 1929 Willys Knight Sedan.

1929 Willys Knight Sedan hood ornament

Tammy’s 70A Willys Knight is a sight to be seen! The lines are great, it was built during the height of the factory’s output (140,000 were built that year), and the engineering quality is among the best.

One other small detail is the type of engine that hauls this beauty around. The gent who developed this unique engine is Charles Knight. One requirement of his, if you wanted to use his engine, is that his name had to be added to the vehicle name: thus “Willys Knight”. The Knight engine does not use the normal valves we are use to. When he was thirty-two years-old, Mr. Knight purchased a vehicle in 1901 and was very annoyed by the sound of the slapping valve. He found financial backing and developed an engine that was added to a new automobile in 1906, called the “Silent Knight”. His cure for all that noise was to dump the old valves and add two sleeves inside each cylinder. Each sleeve had built-in holes and when certain holes lined up, the exhaust was allowed to leave. Another set of holes would be lined up when the gas/air mixture needed to get into the cylinder. Tammy’s Willys Knight model was built from 1914 through 1933.

Tammy purchased her Sedan about six years ago from a gent in Connecticut. She was influenced, in a small way, from her dad, Charlie Thompson, who has a Whippet, built by the same company; Willys-Overland. She fell in love with the brand while joining her dad to a national Willys-Overland gathering. Her car came up for sale and with the help of her dad and other WOKR Club members, she bought it. Beside the brand, the condition and the car’s history; there was one other important reason for her purchase….it was red, her favorite color.

1929 Willys Knight 70A Sedan

Tammy has become use to the 200-to-300-mile tours that happen when their WOKR club gets together. Asked about the longest distance she has traveled, driving her car, she said the trip from Marietta, Georgia to Jasper, Indiana was the longest. Her son, Ethan, and her dad, Charlie, joined her in the 800-mile round-trip. Except for a small emergency about a half hour at the start the trip, all went very well. The emergency was a fire from a dragging right-rear brake, which happens to be just inches from the gas tank. Ethan could smell smoke and it took a while to convince his mother it was coming from “her” car. A squirt or two from a fire extinguisher, a short wait for everything to cool down and a small adjustment to matched that mechanical brake to the other three, and they were on their way again.

She said her Willys Knight loves to cruise at 43 MPH. The Knight engines are noted for burning oil, and some, putting out lots of tail-pipe smoke while driving down the highway. You can see from the front page, as Tammy was gearing up to entering the highway, that her engine is not a smoker.

The only other mishap was when she had entered a rally race with her Willys Knight. Her navigator had to cancel at the last minute, so she decided to go anyway. All was going very well as she followed a competitor in his speedy little sports car; until “the corner”. She said the car requires strong arm steering, and while the little sports car sped around the corner, she went straight. She was very proud that she did not do a “wheelie” like she had done a few years earlier with her dad’s Whippet. She recovered and came in sixth place. (Tammy’s definition of a wheelie, in a car, is to have the two tires on the left or the right, off the ground.)

1929 70A Willys Knight Sedan interior

Tammy’s next project is a Vermont Willys Knight. A 1928 Model 56 Sport Coupe that had belonged to Gael Boardman from the mid-50s. There is a WOKR gathering in Huntsville, Georgia next June and she hopes to be driving it.

That “Coupe” has lots of VAE club history going back to when Gael was a young man and Pevey Peake was having his old-car adventures. If you do a little Wheel Tracks research, you can find Gael-stories about the coupe. One story he wrote is called “Takes a Licking, Keeps on Smoking”, where he mentions driving the car over 100,000 miles while he had it. This coupe now has a new life with Tammy and ready to make much more history.
Ain’t this old-car stuff fantastic?

Good luck in your travels Tammy. You don’t need to be told to have a good time, you have that part exactly right.

1957 Nash Ambassador

Richard and Mary Lou Hurd’s Nash Ambassador

Richard Hurd… “Why do I like Nashautomobiles, you ask?”

“One good reason is that I do not meet many of them when I am driving mine down the road!”

Richard Hurd and his 1957 Nash Ambassador

Richard was working in his Springfield, Vermont shop the morning that I called him. He was working on a boat seat; you see, he has been an upholsterer for over 60 years. This shop is where he has made his living the past 57 years. Asked if he has a specialty and he said he basically does it all, boats, cars, buggies, furniture, and on.

Lately though, he tries to only work from his bench. He has done many auto interiors and other than one problem, he could do them today. The problem, he says with a laugh, is that getting “into” the vehicle is no problem, but then, because “he is getting up there”, he can not get back out! We both laughed about having his wife, Mary Lou, bring him his supper to some vehicle he can not get out of.

Richard is 79 years old and was doing upholstery when he was in high school. I said, by this time he must know his trade and he calmly replied, “Well, I do have some people fooled”.

He has a small stable of antique cars. His first antique car, from many years ago, was a 1937 Ford Tudor that is in fine working shape and sits along side a 1957 Nash Metropolitan that he restored by using two to make one. He also has a 1930 Nash. I found one online and put the pictured left, so you have an idea of what it looks like, this is not Richard’s ‘30 Nash, but one that is similar.

Then there is his ‘57 Nash Ambassador pictured on the front page. Only 1800 pounds heavier than his Metropolitan (3640 lbs. vs 1850 lbs.), and only five feet longer (209 inches vs 1850). The Ambassador also has 327 HP compared to the 50 HP that the Metro packs. To the question about why Nash’s, beside his comment on the front page, Richard said it just makes it easier if they are all one brand. A very good lesson for beginners in this hobby.

Richard purchased his Ambassador when the Nash club had a meet in Massachusetts, about ten years ago. The gent he bought it from had a trailer full of club documents that was being towed by the car, and the Nash had to go home to unhitch the trailer before Richard could take possession. The Nash’s home was a thousand miles away in Illinois. Richard and a friend flew out and drove the car home to Vermont.

I am wondering if some of us have missed something while deciding what old car to collect. Maybe we should have thought more about the Nash brand! My math adds up to four one-thousand mile trips for this Nash, two of them with a trailer attached, before it arrived to its new home in Vermont.

My next question, seems a little silly now, but I asked him what kind of problems he has had with the car in the ten years he has owned it. There was only silence on the phone, Richard was trying to think of some. He finally said he had the engine rebuilt about four years ago after spinning a bearing. Even though the car only needed the bearing fixed, he thought he would play it safe and go through the rest of the engine. He said he has missed only one “Slow Spoke Tour” since it started and many of them have been in his Ambassador. Maybe the Nash advertising slogan was correct in 1927… “Nash leads the World in Motor Car Value”

Richard did tell about his Metropolitan letting him down once. He noticed a “different” noise one time, kind of a grinding sound. He soon found the reason when the front spindle broke and his wheel fell off. Seems to be more excitement with his smaller car!

Thank you Richard for teaching us a little about the Nash brand of automobile.

This from the Nash history books……

The Nash Ambassador is a luxury automobile that was produced by Nash Motors from 1927 until 1957. For the first five years it was a top trim level, then from 1932 on a standalone model. Ambassadors were lavishly equipped and beautifully constructed, earning them the nickname “the Kenosha Duesenberg”. The bodies of the 1952 to 1957 Ambassadors were designed by Italian auto designer Pinin Farina.

For the period between 1929-1934 when Nash produced a line of seven-passenger saloons and limousines, the Ambassador series was the maker’s “flagship”, and remained so following the Nash-Hudson merger in 1954.

From 1958 until 1965, the cars were named Rambler Ambassador, then from 1966 to 1974, as the AMC Ambassador. The continued use the Ambassador model name made it “one of the longest-lived automobile nameplates in automotive history.”

Gary’s 1927 GMC Firetruck

L to R… Gary Olney, Gary F., Judy Boardman, Bill Erskine & Wendell Noble

There are two “innocents” in these pictures, and four “connivers”. Dixie the dog is one innocent, can you guess who is the second?

How do you match the joy of a young child tearing into a surprise birthday gift and discovering that it is just what he’s always wanted?

Well, how about seeing a fellow who’s er, well into adulthood, discover that the surprise anniversary gift from his wife is the rusty relic of a 1927 GMC firetruck that he has been lusting for?


So it has come to pass for VAE folks who took part in making this happen for Gary Fiske. The feature truck had been tucked away in Gael Boardman’s shed behind his tractor and some other machinery and under some other miscellaneous goods that simply needed a place to be. Following Gael’s passing, Judy Boardman sought to dispose of some of his memorabilia stuff into appreciative hands.

L to R… Judy Boardman, Gary & Sharon Fiske


This was accomplished with a very successful VAE auction in July. The firetruck remained, seen but not spoken for.
Sharon Fiske somehow sensed that Gary would like to own it and discretely let it be known to a few friends that she would like to surprise him with it as an anniversary gift. A plan was hatched, a ruse was devised and some bald-faced lies were told to get the surprise underway. It was so well executed that Gary unwittingly took part himself, by lending his trailer and helping to load it, thinking that Bill Erskine would be the happy new owner.


The tires held air, at least for the day, the wheels turned freely and the relic rolled onto Gary’s trailer. Once the truck was loaded for transport, Sharon was cleverly able to dispatch Gary on a wild goose chase while the conspirators trucked it to Gary’s yard. The surprise was total and joyous to witness. Gary just happened to have room under cover for his new treasure along with all the other vehicles that he’ll get to someday.


There is still much to be learned about the fire engine’s origin and history. Therein lies the joy of owning it. Is it a candidate for restoration? If so, to what? In the mean time, Gary can go out and sit in it and imagine that he’s responding to a fire, at 35 MPH, tops.


From the editor & the proud recipient of this little GMC firetruck

I want to thank everyone for this really nice gift, especially my wife Sharon. I kind of pride myself for being “plugged in” when it comes to things around me. I have to admit, I was totally off the grid in this case. When people ask how many project vehicles I need, most of the time I say that I need two more and they will take me to 120 years old. I think I am there.


Now to the fun part that Wendell spoke about. First to find the history on this truck and second to find exactly what I have here. Of course, working on it is the frosting on the cake.


As to the history, the first person I contacted was Gary Irish. Gary lives near the Boardman’s and I was hoping Gael might have mentioned the truck to him. Gary had nothing to offer except an apology; you see he is also one of those ’plugged-in’ folks. Gael’s wife, Judy, can only remember that it appeared one day. So, to all you friends and neighbors of Gael Boardman’s homestead, I would like to hear from you if you have some information.


Next is to find what I have. Dodge Brothers and Franklins are a bit where I come from, I know very little about GMCs. A book by the name of “The First Century of GMC Trucks by Donald Meyer claims there were 12,918 GMC trucks sold in 1927. The beginning for GMC started in 1900 with a single cylinder, chain-drive vehicle with a top speed of 10 MPH and a capacity of one ton.


It goes on to tell how ‘27 was the first year of the GMC T-trucks, the T-20, the T40 and the T50s. The T-50 was a 2-ton truck and had a worm drive rear-end…definitely not mine. The T-40 was a 2-ton truck with a bevel gear rear axle. I will have to look in the pumpkin, but I don’t think this is it either. The T20 is a 1-ton truck and that might be mine.


But wait, later in 1927, GMC started building a new model called a T-10 which was a half-ton delivery truck called a “Speed Wagon”. But no, Meyer claims the T-10s had a Pontiac engine and all the others have Buick engines. My engine is a Buick.


The Buick engine is a valve-in-head L6. The T-20 had a 207 cid engine and the T-40 and T-50 both had 274 cid engines. How can you tell the difference?


My dash plaque claims top vehicle speed is 35 MPH. I bet when I get done tweaking and peaking I will squeeze at least 36MPH out of her, but first I have to un-seize the engine with Gael’s favorite stuff called “Kroil”…….yes!
Can you imagine any more fun than this? I can not.

1967 Austin Healey 300 Mk III

A love story for the “VAE Books”. 

jane spender & 1967 austin healey BJ8

When John Spencer sent pictures to Wheel Tracks, he was asked about the young lady. 
He replied, “That is the girl I chased with my Healey!” 
The young lady is Jane Spencer.  John purchased this Austin Healey 3000 Mk-lll in 1970 and his plan worked… what a car… what a catch! 

This from John…… 

austin healey 3000

I bought the 1967 Austin Healey BJ8 in August 1970 from a family in Johnson, Vermont to chase a girl. I still have the Healey and the girl. 

I must give credit to Ed Rotax, an original member of the VAE. He had a vast collection of Dodge Bros vehicles. I had bought a 1924 Screen Side delivery truck from him. I drove it to Stowe that year. At the end of the show, he said let us go see this car you keep talking about. I said it is in Johnson. No problem we can go over the notch to Jeffersonville. That we did with my old Dodge Bros with only rear brakes and not too good ones either. 

john spencer - austin healey 3000

The Healey was my only car, and I was still milking cows on our dairy farm. I put snow tires on the rear and fought the snow drifts on my way to Burlington to see the girl, Jane by the way. It never failed me, but it was not the best in the snow. The car survived the many trials of our life including spending the winter outside. The exhaust was always being repaired. The fenders were patched, and the rocker panel replaced. It finally was retired to the shed for 10 years. 

Eight years ago, I figured I would get it going again and pulled the motor and transmission to repair the overdrive. I keep finding things to fix and I ended up going all the way to the frame. It took me six years to complete it with some help from some great people especially Rally Sport in New Haven. I did all the mechanicals and some body work. Others did the upholstery and paint. 

This is a driver as I am driving around Vermont to find other Austin Healeys. Jane and I are also doing the 251 club in the Healey. 

Any sharp-eyed Healey person will look at the picture of my Healey and say it can not be a 1967 because it does not have dual parking lights. But it is by the serial number and other features. I discovered after buying the car, it had been in an accident and the front shroud was replaced by one from an older model. I decided to keep it that way. It is a pleasure to drive and we plan to put some serious miles on it. See you on the road. 

austin healey 3000 front

I am now restoring my 1931 Ford Tudor, which I bought when I was 14. But that is a story for another time. 

There are twelve Austin Healeys listed on our VAE website, under “Member Vehicles”. 

Some listings might be old, we are sure the vehicles still exist, but their owners might have changed. 

We know of two Healeys not included, they belong to VAE members Dave Sargent and Ken Gypson

The Spencers are doing two things with their Healey that we all could adopt as nice adventures. One is to drive their car to the homes of the other VAE Austin Healeys for a friendly visit. What a great idea! 

The second is something other members have done and should be a club-wide challenge. 

That is to join the “251 Club” and visit all the 251 towns in Vermont, with your favorite “Old Vehicle”.