Wheel Tracks Articles Archives

Cylinders – Motoring Moment

One-cylinder cars weren’t unusual. Many great marques began that way – like Cadillac and Olds. Two cylinder cars were a natural follow up. There are a number of both in the club. Three cylinder cars were less common but you can think of a few: Older ones like the Compound, newer ones like the Saab and GEO. There are all kinds of examples of four cylinder cars… and at least one person in the club has a five cylinder Mercedes. The inline six cylinder car has probably been the world’s best… think “cast iron wonder”. And then there are seven cylinders, which we will skip for the moment. Eights are everywhere, inline and “V”… and then there is the nine… or is there? Ford has the ten, BMW and all the oldies have the twelve, and there has been the occasional sixteen. But what about the 7, 9 and 11? Apart from radial engines, which you are probably thinking of right now, you probably can’t identify a car with that number of cylinders.

Today’s Motoring Moment will change that because there was a car using one of those “odd-numbered” engines. The place was Maywood, Illinois and it was 1927. The guy was Durward E. Willis and the vision was a nine cylinder engine. This unusual creation was cast in blocks of three and was timed somewhat independently with a firing order much like a radial engine. In February of 1927 a Chicago laboratory bench tested this departure from the usual and rated it highly. Durward then acquired a Gardner sedan, changed the radiator shell and had a new Willis. He incorporated the Willis Motors Corporation and a full line of Willis cars (all nine cylinder models) were projected… up to $5400 in price. Willis also had plans for three and five cylinder cars ready for future use.

Research in the Standard Catalog of American Cars mentions Willis, his cars and their fate. The Catalog tells us that in 1963 Mr. Willis returned to the market with a three-cylinder car under the corporate name of Cougar Motors. The new sporty car would be the “Cub”. As the Catalog suggests: “production was doubtful”. So, there was a nine cylinder car… sort of a Willis / Gardner. VAE Member Bob Jones had a Gardner that you might remember – a “Radio Special” but it wasn’t a “9”. Now – what about the seven and the eleven? Keep us posted.

Model A Ford Winter Driving

All this cold weather that we’ve been having makes me very thankful for the winter clothing that we now have.

My grandmother told many stories of her driving adventures in the winter months. For some unknown reason my grandfather never got his drivers license until later in life. He was employed as a foreman for the Missisquoi Pulp Mill in Sheldon Springs Vermont, which was 8 miles from their home.

One particularly cold winter, much like we are experiencing this winter, my grandmother had the dubious job of driving him to work mornings. She had a 1928 Model A Ford Roadster, with no heat! Eight miles one way is a long ways to go with no heat in sub zero weather.

As you can imagine, the trip to Sheldon Springs was no piece of cake, and the return trip back was pure misery. Gram had on the standard mode of fashion for the day…dress, stockings, shoes stuffed in stadium boots, and a wool coat with fur collar and gloves. Wool coats were heavy, but didn’t offer much warmth at times. Grandfather wore long-johns, wool pants, flannel shirt, wool socks, wool jacket, wool cap and gloves.

Fingers nearly frozen, it was impossible to grip the wheel, so she stuck her arms through the steering wheel to steer the car, managing to get home before she became a block of ice. Fashion be darned, that one experience was enough for Gram. She started wearing a pair of men’s pants, socks, flannel shirt, and made a pair of three finger mittens from sheep’s skin that would allow her to grip the wheel better.

That very next spring the Model A was traded for a closed car with a heater. If Gram was going to be on the road, she was going to be warm!

Aprons

The picture in my mind that speaks volumes of home is my mother working in the kitchen. Her attire consisted of a simple dress, low shoes and of course an apron. When thinking of fashion one does not think of a simple item such as an apron as fashionable or even an accessory.

The word “apron” comes from an old French word “napperon” meaning cloth. Appearing in the Middle Ages as a piece of cloth that was tied around the ladies skirt to protect the clothing while eating. Later servants started using the “nappe” with a small bib top to protect their clothing while working, which was simply pinned to the dress. From that time forward it evolved to what is consided an artform and very collectable today.

This simple garment started out as an example in proficiency of needlework with no consideration of being an art form, and is considered extraordinary art by extraordinary women today. Adding grace, warmth and beauty to our lives, most of these women completed their work while wearing a variety of aprons.

Aprons seem to carry a host of nostalgic memories of a simpler time. Mom seemed to have the perfect apron for every situation. There were aprons for cleaning, baking, wash day, and when company came to call.

I especially liked the one for washday as it meant going outside and running through the lines of clean smelling clothes and sheets. That apron was made of white linen with a wide band of red rick-rack, and a uniquely large pocket that held the clothes pins.

The 1947 Ward’s catalog shows a variety of aprons priced from 59 cents to $2.98. and an 1872 Bazaar magazine shows a diagram of an apron pattern for 25 cents. Aprons come in many styles, materials and variety of handy work. To the avid collector, prices can range from a few dollars to as much as $75.00 depending on the condition and age.

So, when you are completing that perfect vintage outfit don’t rule out the vintage accessories of an apron.

Differentials – Motoring Moment

Differential diagramHistory tells us that the mechanical marvel of a geared differential preceded the automobile by many years. Some really ingenious guy “thunk” up the differential and made working models in the middle of the 19th century. Here was a great “future problem solver” with no great immediate use. When the horse pulled the wagon there was no need to appropriate power to speed and distance. The horse had his own internal differential. It wasn’t long after self-propelled stuff began turning up that the differential really came into its own.

Consider the problem of belting or direct-connecting just one rear wheel to the engine. You may have made a soapbox type rig in your youth like that and will agree that one-side drive isn’t great. The single driven wheel spins easily and the vehicle handles poorly. Enter the differential.

You need charts or a cut-away model to fully grasp this clever item. But what it does is to allow both wheels to receive power. And that power is proportioned to the amount of resistance the wheels are receiving back up from the road.

When a car is under power and is going around a curve, the outside wheel has to travel much further than the inside one. But there is more resistance on the inner wheel. Both wheels need power for smooth performance and good handling – and the differential does this. As the wheel resistance increases, spinning gears in a small cage attached to one axle, allows the axle speed to change in relation to the other axle. “Compensation” is the best word to explain the theory but you’ll need to look at some diagrams.

Or better yet, go down to the junkyard and give the guy $2 bucks to let you pull the cover off an abandoned differential. Oh, take the charts and diagrams with you. It isn’t real complicated but the darn thing is so clever that you will be a few minutes sorting it out.

History of Duct Tape

Last month we took a look at WD-40 – the first of two items that are a must have for any toolbox. If it doesn’t move and it should we recommend WD-40. But what if it does move and it shouldn’t? Duct tape is the way to go! It comes in many colors to match the bumper you are trying to hold in place, the hose you are trying to stop leaking or the broken tail light you are trying to put off replacing one more day. Called racing tape by many, it’s a common site in the pits.

During World War II, the American armed forces needed a strong, waterproof tape to keep moisture out of ammunition cases. Because it was waterproof, everyone referred to it as “duck” tape (now a brand name of Manco). This versatile tape was used as a mending material that could be ripped by hand and used to make quick repairs to jeeps, aircraft, and other military equipment. The Johnson and Johnson Company’s Permacel division, which had by then developed its own line of adhesive tapes, helped the war effort by combining cloth mesh (which rips easily) with a rubber-based adhesive, and then gave that combination of rubberized mesh a waterproof coating. No specific person or group of people at Johnson and Johnson has been named in the development of duct tape.

Following the war, housing in the United States boomed, and many new homes featured forced-air heating and air-conditioning units that relied on duct work to distribute warmth and coolness. Johnson and Johnson’s strong military tape made the perfect material for binding and repairing the ductwork. By changing the color of the tape’s rubberized topcoat from Army green to sheet metal gray, “duct” tape was born.

There are hundreds of uses for duct tape and more are added all the time. Shown above is couch that was refurbished with duct tape.

Some other uses found on the web that might be of interest to car folks…

  • Patch a rust spot at the bottom of a fender (works best on a silver car or buy the right color to match your vehicle.)
  • Patch leaking radiator hoses.
  • Hold up that window that fell off the track or tape the piece of clear plastic over it.
  • Patch the torn seat covers.
  • Tape the door shut when the latch breaks.
  • Hold up your falling headliner.
  • Patch the crack in your dashboard padding.
  • Cover the annoying “check engine” light that won’t go away.
  • Temporarily repair a universal joint (has been known to have worked for 3 days!)
  • Patch mufflers and tailpipes (needs frequent replacing).

Infamous Lemons: 1950 Rover Whizzard

The Rover Whizzard was a turbine-engine car, and was first unveiled at Silverstone Airport, in England, in 1950. That such a conservative automaker as Rover would come out with a turbine car was a sign of the times, and in a sense, the car was a product of the transportation industry as a whole.

The question of motive power – not only for cars, but for airplanes and railroad trains – was much debated at the time. With aircraft, the advent of the turbine-jet engine promised a bright future, as jet aircraft attained previously unattainable speeds.

The automotive industry was facing a need for ever more efficient power plants that would deliver good performance even in lower-priced cars (thanks to the improvements in highways, and a post-war milieu that emphasized power and speed).

If steam pistons could be replaced with turbine blades in a locomotive, why not in an automobile engine? It would be wonderful for sales, too, directly borrowing the then-tremendous glamour of the jet aircraft as well.

Thus the impetus was supplied for Rover to design and realize a turbine engine for their Whizzard. This car represented a few modifications on the basic Rover shape of the time. The Whizzard, aka “Jet 1”, could achieve 93 mph but was gas-hungry, getting only five miles to the gallon.

Once Rover was awarded the DeWar Trophy for their engineering daring, the company went ahead with another turbine project, the “Jet 2” which featured a somewhat upgraded turbine in a sedan body that was the focus of much publicity.

In 1961 Rover brought out the T4 which seem to have borrowed much of its styling from the Citroen… Rover claimed they had almost solved the turbine problems with this car and to prove their point, ran one at Le Mans.

The T4 was the last domestic turbine car that Rover attempted… the cost of development was too high and the car’s performance did not justify its heavy fuel consumption.

State of the VAE

State of the club message for 2003 and the first 50 years of action since the club’s founding in 1953. Presented to the Board of Directors, January 5, 2004.

First let me thank and congratulate all those members that have helped establish the VAE over our history and especially in our golden year 2003. It has been a good term and I feel, a great year. Praise goes to our outgoing officers and an eager welcome to those incoming folks who will keep our banners flying.

Special thanks to Sandy Lambert, who with a little help from Ellen Emerson, has done a great job as Secretary. This is one of the more difficult jobs in an organization such as ours and her work is appreciated. She and Dan also gave us a great Christmas party. Thank you!

Conception Conti, Tom McHugh and Fred Cook gave us a great 50th Book along with an active committee with kudos to Jim Sears (the roster guy), Jim and Nancy Willett and Francine and Graham Gould. VP Ray Tomlinson was also there and helped with special products and running commentary.

Taking just the year 2003, my nomination for “Enthusiast of our Golden Year”, is Ellen Emerson. Responsible for Wheel Tracks and our web site, Ellen has also done much more… enthusiastically. She has taken a lot of the Shelburne Show weight (notice her last years work there), has filled in for Sandy, has made all kinds of meetings, has volunteered to host a monthly meet in 2004, etc. Ellen is always upbeat, fun and really likes cars. The club salutes you… Ellen.

Our two major car shows continue to be big and successful events. Stowe maintains its place as the premier Northern New England old car event. Tom Maclay and Dick Currier continue to be the primary force behind this event… with the help of many, many members. There are some concerns about Stowe, however. The club will be facing some decisions about our relationship with the Stowe Area Association… this needs work. Also there is always discussion about growth, location, events, and judging. Member input is welcomed. The Stowe Show committee meets a lot throughout the year. Those with interest should contact one of the co-chairs: Tom Maclay or Dick Currier.

Shelburne is new enough to continue to be a “work in process”. This show is unique in location and presentation and holds a big future for the VAE. Our relationship with the Shelburne Museum alone is noteworthy. Our future as a club interested in transportation is only enhanced by our friendship and co-operation with a transportation oriented museum like Shelburne. More about this in a moment… first thanks to our Shelburne founding co-chairs Bill Erskine and Avery Hall, who, claiming semi-retirement, are still providing the organization and leadership to mount this big project. There is exciting potential in the Shelburne Show… and now with an extended time and hub-tours bringing in new participants. I feel that Shelburne is just beginning what will make it a “Mecca” event for old car people.

The “little sister” event in our show calendar is Thunder Road. Under the enthusiastic leadership of Gene and Lucille Napoliello this event will become in 2004 an event beyond a monthly VAE meet. With help from Fred Cook and VAE founding member, Thunder Road owner/operator Ken Squire, this meet fills a need in the clubs activities. It is here that we can host cars and owners that haven’t historically been active parts of our club. Later cars, younger owners and a contemporary venue indicate our general automobile enthusiasm and the fund raising aspect is more than a worthy cause. I recommend that we all support Thunder Road and welcome the results.

Monthly meetings are the glue that holds our club together. I wish more members would get out more often as we have a lot of fun… and most of us get to drive some favored rig. But not having a car ready is no excuse for not coming. Show up “modern” and chances are there will be all kinds of places to ride in style with another proud member. Our roster lists over 400 families. Our average monthly meeting attendance is just under 50 people. If you talk the talk… you should try the walk… oops… the ride. Please come.

There are several additional concerns… Les Skinner, esteemed VAE Treasurer, is having a difficult round with the IRS. Non-profit organizations like ours are often subject to review. We do handle a lot of money due to our major shows and Les’ job is not easy. He will keep us posted as to the outcome.

As President through the past year I have heard a lot of comment and conversation about judging at VAE events. It appears impossible to please all – especially those having judging experience in other car clubs – and feelings run quite high. If you are unhappy with the results don’t go away mad. I thank those that have taken the time to write or call me about judging and I continue to feel at a loss as to just what to do about it. I am impressed with the work Gene Napoliello has done on a “judging manual” for general judging by novices. It explains just what the criteria are for any event that the manual is used for. Do we need to judge more? Less? “Owner-class” judge? I don’t know. I do know that those attending and asking to be judged expect to be judged, like to win and basically attend with this in mind. We need to have some major discussions on this topic – the sooner the better.

There has been some discussion this past year about the future of the VAE… direction, projects, membership, etc. Our Futures Committee has met and one large thing they have brought forward is the desire to think about and possibly plan for some kind of permanent clubhouse facility for our group. Talk has stretched this thinking over anything from a library room for auto related literature, VAE memorabilia, etc. to something much larger to possibly include available work space, car display area and general museum. Good thinking – all.

The Officers and Board have not yet officially heard from the Audit Committee. Long time members Dave Otis, Lou Young and Chair, Leo LaFerriere make up this group and have the task of making sure that our records are understandable and that our financial house and its reported status are in order. This year, in addition to being reactive to our records, Leo has raised some questions about fiscal policy and made some initial suggestions that may find their way into a formal report. Thanks, Leo and committee for the extra time and effort contributed to our club.

The Bylaws Committee (Fred Cook and long-time bylaw people Adrian West and Mary Jane Dexter) have made some suggested changes to our bylaws (published in the December Wheel Tracks) and after some discussion at the annual meeting are refining them for presentation to the membership early this year. It is important that we keep our governing documents current to the clubs needs and direction.

Before his unfortunate death, long time member Joe Bettis spoke to me about how good it felt to be remembered by the club with calls, cards, and letters…and from our Sunshine chair, Julie Greenia. Julie has done an excellent job reminding those with burdens that we old-car people are interested, friendly and concerned. It makes us a better organization. Thanks Julie.

As incoming Board Chairman, my interest in the future only increases. 2004 is my 50th anniversary with our club and I feel a strong personal investment in what has been and what I owe to the future. The following are my personal feelings and are offered to maintain ongoing thinking and conversation about what we might do in the time to come.

The largest looming question is membership. Although our 400 families appear to show interest and support for our club and hobby, we are aging. “Families” doesn’t seem to include our “kids” as much as we would like and we are not planning well for new torchbearers. People… we need to take this seriously. Old cars are great and another generation will discover them ONLY if we make it a guided discovery. Young people are hands on… we need to let them get their hands on… touch, ride, drive, listen, understand and want an older car.

A related topic might be the thinking coming from the Futures Committee. Jan Sander and company have generated a lot of interest in the clubhouse idea. If we build a clubhouse without new younger members to use and support it, it could look like a mausoleum fairly soon. The positive idea of making a large commitment to a major project is interesting and challenging. This mental exercise has started me thinking about how best we might plan in this direction.

First, I believe that there is probably some money available to fund a well-planned project. Gifts, grants, subscriptions, etc might actually produce quite a lot. The larger problem would be support and maintenance of any facility. We aren’t big enough or rich enough to do this. Here at the beginning of this thinking I would suggest the following… find a partner group or organization that could provide what we can’t. Fund the lion’s share of the upfront cost and rely on the partner’s resources to keep it going. For starters, if we were looking for just library and meeting room space, it could be a chamber of commerce, a corporation with automotive or historical interest, etc. If we wanted more… to include an automotive display area for example, if could be a fairground, theme park or museum. I haven’t turned the “available work space” corner yet, but there are probably possibilities out there as well. My early on interest favors the alliance with a museum… and you can probably guess which one.

2004 President Ray Tomlinson is very interested in a clubhouse project and has investigated several possible sites for our use. If you have thoughts or interest in this, contact Ray or Jan Sander. Ray may well continue with a Futures Committee and your contributions would be valuable.

To sum, I believe that the VAE is presently healthy, mostly happy and adequately wise. I salute our founding members, commend our present officers, and thank our active members. It has been fun to help steer in our 50th year, and as a board member I look for more in 2004.

Automobiles: Wasp

Excerpts from the book by Keith Marvin © 1961

The Wasp was unique in several ways. For one thing, it was designed for those who wanted something, which would transcend or surpass even the most personal examples of other makes. Custom coachwork could be had for a price, and purchasers of such high priced automobiles as Packard, Pierce-Arrow and the American built Rolls Royce were able to pay to satisfy their desire for custom-tailored, one of a kind coachwork, including such features as built in bars, special brocade or silk upholstery.

If a client couldn’t obtain exactly what he or she desired through the custom tailored approach on a given chassis, another make might be chosen in its place as a second choice. Such was not the case with the Wasp. There would be NO second choice. If the buyer wished for exclusiveness with no ifs, ands or buts, and the Wasp appealed, that was it. As such, it was perhaps the only American car of its time without a rival in this field.

A spin-off to this desire for exclusiveness sometimes entailed having a car built which looked like something else or nothing in particular. Such was the case with a noted financier who liked the appearance of the Mercedes, but in the period immediately following WWI did not want to own a German-made car. There was a simple solution: he had a special radiator made, directly copying that of the Mercedes, and attached it to his Packard Twin Six.

A second point that set the Wasp apart was its appearance, combining individuality in concept and an originality in every aspect of its design, a rather startling beauty without sacrificing utility and at the same time, avoiding eccentricity.

Third, the car was only advertised selectively as its builder had early in his business career come to the conviction that if such promotion was to be employed, it should be without cost. In point of fact, it should be free. Therefore, he successfully arranged for coverage with illustrations and text in the automotive press as well as in the prestigious magazines Vanity Fair and Vogue.

An exclusive design feature of the Wasp was its unique placement of the St. Christopher Medal on the dashboard of every car sold. There were two good reasons for this. First, Karl Martin had designed and struck a bronze St. Christopher Medal for Army and Navy personnel in WWI and had a number of these left over. Secondly, a religious man in his own right and a communicant of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Bennington, he always carried such a medal in his personal cars and he wished Wasp owners to do likewise. It was said (but never proven) that he would have refused sale of a Wasp to any purchaser who objected to the presence of the medal.

Fashion Quiz

Some fashion questions:

  1. In the last half of the nineteenth century, the fashion style was named for what Queen?
  2. In the late nineteenth century, what was a skirt made with straight panels called?
  3. What fine art influenced the dress designs and color of courier Paul Poiret in the teens?
  4. What style of fashion did Gabrielle Chanel introduce in the twenties
  5. Hollywood was the primary fashion inspiration for which decades?
  6. Name three fabrics that were popular for thirties clothing.
  7. Why did the fashions of the forties have regulation length jackets, without pockets or detail?
  8. What is the proper way to store vintage pieces?
  9. What constitutes the fashion called the “New Look” and why was it given that name?
  10. Who was Jackie Kennedy’s exclusive designer in the sixties?

(Scroll down for answers below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Queen Victoria
  2. A gored skirt
  3. Fauvism and Ballet Russes
  4. Uncluttered clothing and the little black dres
  5. 1930s and 1940s
  6. Silk, satin, organdy, eyelet, pique, gingham, corduroy, knits, wool, velvets, crepe, Lastex, rayons
  7. World War II manufacturing restrictions
  8. The best way to store them is with acid-free tissue and acid-free covered boxes
  9. Christian Dior’s soft shoulders, small waist and full midcalf skirt
  10. Oleg Cassini

Enthusiast of the Month: Rod Rice

Rod Rice 2003Hopefully our readers have followed the monthly “Big E” (E for enthusiasm as in the VAE) awards and have enjoyed remembering or meeting just a few of the outstanding people that have made our club the super organization that we all enjoy. All awarded are deserving… and many others are as well, but there can be no disputing this month’s winner.

From founding father to dependable cheerleader, this month’s winner tops any list. To find out “who” and “why” read now what Founder and First VAE President Ken Gypson has to say about our Enthusiast of the Month, Year, Decade, Golden Anniversary and hopefully for life.

Ken writes:

“As we go through life we, of course, meet and get to know many individuals. Some that in all honesty we could do without and others that make you glad knowing them and make life pleasurable. Happily, there are also those who, in knowing them, become extra special and close friends.

When Anne and I moved to Vermont – my taking a job with the now long defunct Burlington Daily News and Vermont Sunday News; we of course, severed geographic ties with the Automobilists of the Upper Hudson Valley. One day when seeking to sell some display advertising space to a concern I somehow got introduced to a local automobile enthusiast who happened to be there.

After all these years I can’t recall the details of how it all came about, but it was to become the meeting of one of those extra special individuals.

As time passed and the friendship grew, the most interesting events began to unfold. One of the first, of course, was this gentleman’s help getting a birthday party organized by inviting fellow automobile enthusiasts. As most know, the party gave birth to the VAE. This camaraderie, naturally paved the way for even greater indulgence in the hobby.

Immersion in the hobby is bound to get one involved in all kinds of goings on – frustrating, humorous, expensive, interesting (to say the least) and rewarding – all to be shared with fellow enthusiasts. The gentleman I noted earlier and who became “extra special” had a keen sense of humor. When sometimes I would be deep in trying to sort out a problem on the Franklin, the silence would be broken by this gentleman proclaiming “Glad to see you doing something even if it’s wrong”.

As time passed I got blamed for being the one that got him interested in British machinery. Noting the Brit entanglement, one evening our family dined with the gentleman and his family. It was in the middle of winter and after dinner the kids were bedded down for a nap. Being a dutiful father I ventured out to warm up the Hillman Minx.

The Minx had a pull cable to engage the starter… so I pulled the knob on the facia (Brit for dashboard) and lo and behold, the cable just kept coming out! Our gentleman (smart too) despite the sub-zero weather got things hooked back up and soon we were able to head home.

Handling the fledgling VAE as its first President offered many challenges and fortunately this gentleman was always at hand to help give advice and step up to any given task. Every club has need for a newsletter. Our gentleman helped recruit the needed workers and spent many hours at the Daily News offices to put together the printed communications. (At this point I’ve got to add in reference to the newsletter – “You’ve come a long way baby”).

This gentleman had a bit of land and buildings in Starksboro. During one winter he wanted to “check” things there so off we went – I knew snow could get deep – but that deep?! It took so long just to navigate in and out of the territory that we needed nourishment. Finding a local shop open we regained our spirit eating Fig Newtons. It’s the one time in my life I’ve been able to stomach them but our gentleman relished them! One happening that clearly shows the mettle of this man began one evening…

Once again we were there for dinner when a phone call came from a mutual friend. It seems the friend had spotted a vehicle in a Vergennes commercial car shop that he believed was one that our gentleman had purchased – but was supposed to be still with the seller and to be picked up later. This vehicle was not one that could be called “mint” by even the slickest used car salesman but this was a situation that demanded action.

Rapidly collecting spares that might be needed, our gentleman, the mutual friend and I headed for Vergennes. It seems that one of those individuals we could do without had told a “cock and bull” story to the seller and had the Vergennes garage retrieve it–bringing it to the garage where our mutual friend had spotted it.

Arriving at the garage our (honest) gentleman tried to convince the garage proprietor that it was his car – not the fellow who had given him the order to tow it in. The proprietor was not about to agree with our gentleman but during the ongoing discussion feverish work on the vehicle was in progress. The proprietor finally went charging out noting he was going to get the gendarmes! With all quickly in order and our gentleman at the helm it was like the green flag dropped for “go”.

Naturally, nothing like this could take place unless the weather was bad. It was raining real hard, but our intrepid gentleman put on his leather helmet and goggles and headed for back roads. This vehicle had no top and if I recall correctly, no doors. It really was a parts car, period! We followed to provide some light for navigation. The sight from our dry comfortable seats was something to behold. Here, a picture would be worth a thousand words. I never knew so many back (and muddy) roads existed.

Finally our gentleman came to a friend’s farm – pulled in and tucked it behind a barn. We found out later that there was a search for our gentleman by the gendarmes – but obviously to no avail. There were many, many other times and events that could be recounted but it would need more space than Wheel Tracks can provide. The events described here, as with the unwritten ones, have a very special meaning because of sharing them with our gentleman.

He is a true enthusiast having served the VAE very well over the years and is extra special in every other way. I, of course, am talking about none other than Rod Rice.”

Lots of other members could share many interesting and fun things about Rod. Doris Bailey (Burlington’s first commercial lady automobile mechanic – story later) is a neighbor of the Rice Autoworks and offers the following:

“To me, Rod Rice has always been the quintessential automobile enthusiast. Over many years he has acquired a number of wonderful cars, from a 1913 Stevens-Duryea Phaeton (my favorite) to the 1954 MG-TF and including his redoubtable 1933 Harley. Being a good, careful mechanic, he has maintained his collection well. If you talk with Rod about your own automotive trials and triumphs, he will always bring a fund of relevant information or an anecdote pertaining to your particular vehicle. Our members are very grateful to both Rod and Ken Gypson for creating the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts in the format that has endured til today.”

Take a tip from Doris and when given the chance to talk with Rod do so. He is at many VAE activities and is knowledgeable, interesting and has a great sense of humor. And now from all the members, officers, and board let us join Ken and Doris, and with three cheers and one cheer more, award our 50th Year “Biggest E” Award to our friend and founder, Rod Rice. We really mean it.