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

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.”

The Auto Technology Program at Cold Hollow Career Center

Meet a few of the folks in the Auto Technology Program at Cold Hollow Career Center in Enosburg Falls: Baxter Weed, pictured 2nd from left, is the instructor in the Auto Technology Program at Cold Hollow Career Center in Enosburg Falls. Pictured with him are four students of the 14 in his junior level class (he has an additional 13 students in his senior class). From the left… Preston Snyder, Baxter, Jacob Hulbert (the winner of the 2021 Golden Wrench Award), Matt Kirkpatrick and Devon Badger. 

Cold Hollow Career Center serves the high schools from Richford and Enosburg in the supervisory district of the five towns of Bakersfield, Montgomery, Berkshire, Richford and Enosburg. This relatively small center, along with Automotive Technology, also has programs in Agricultural Science, Business Leadership, Construction Technology, Digital Media, Diversified Ag, Forestry and a Medical Program. 

The two vehicles pictured here are projects in Baxter’s classes. The “Covid Year” presented lots of challenges for him but his students were able to complete much of the school year’s requirement with remote work at home and modified classes at the center. He created how-to videos for his students to view from home and even sent brake drums to the students homes to be worked on. The can-do atmosphere in his class is really something to witness. 

The 1976 Jeep CJ5 is a long-term project they have had in the program over the past 8 or 9 years. The vehicle was “loaned” to the program by another teacher with the understanding it would take a long time. Baxter says “maybe not this long”. The normal arrangement, when the program works on community vehicles, is for the owner to pay for all material with no charge for labor. 

Baxter says many students have worked on this vehicle over the years, it has been good to have a project like that on hand, that way if a student has time there is always something to do. 

It was in very rough shape when they started, the body was rotten, the engine smoked, there were no brakes, and lots of electrical problems with a ratty interior. The owner grew up learning to drive with this Jeep and was willing to slowly repair it. 

Here is the work/repair list the students have accomplished on the Jeep over the years…….. 

Rebuilt the engine, stripped frame and sent it out for sand-blasting and paint, replaced clutch, new fuel and brake lines, replaced the whole body except the grill shell, hood and windshield frame, customized bumpers, rebuilt the winch, rebuilt the 3-speed transmission and customized the front disc brake setup using Geo Tracker front rotors and calipers. 

The list goes on to adding a custom stereo with subwoofer, LED fog lights, seat upholstery and repair, lots of wiring repair and diagnosis, steering box, 4” lift kit, new soft top and doors. side steps, Holley Sniper EFI system and electric fuel pump, Mojave heater box and wiring, aluminum radiator, drum brake rebuild, front and rear axle reseal and Engine tune-up. 

The shop car is a 2007 Toyota Camry. Baxter needed to have an in-house project during the “Covid Year” where his students could work individually and he said this worked out great. The “project” was to add a turbo to this little 4-cylinder engine and a few things for general appearance. Adding a TURBO must have raised the excitement level for the students, even for those times during remote learning at home! 

Here is the Toyota work list….. 

Installing an Ebay turbocharger kit, added custom turbo piping and intercooler with straight-pipe electric exhaust cutout (donated from former student), front air splitter, modified stock bumper, added fender flares and 18” wheels and tires (donated by instructor (wheels) and a former student (tires). 

They also modified the fuel system, added new seat covers with some interior work, added a tach/gauge cluster and strobe lights, plus the cool rear wing. 

The class hopes to “dyno-test” the Toyota during their next school year to see the results of their turbo project. 

1931 Buick Series 91

Editor’s note….The B&W picture of the body, on the front page, was taken during a visit to the Auto Shoppe in June of 2011. It was a bit of a shock when I walked into Bill’s garage for this story. I knew I was going to see something very nice but the reality was unbelievable! I hope the rest of the club will see this beautiful Buick, in real-life, someday. 

From what you see to the left… To the “Buick Beauty” above…. With just two flicks of Bill Billado’s fingers! Well, maybe not just 2-flicks of Bill’s fingers…. 

Bill Billado’s Buick project really started, some 40 to 45 years ago. Dale Lake was a VAE member from the early 50s. He lived in the house he was born in, on a mountain road in Ripton, not far from Middlebury, VT. Over the years, Mr. Lake had accumulated a good number of old vehicles in and around his barns, across the road from his home. One of those vehicles was Bill’s 1931 Series 91 Buick (sitting outside). Dale Lake’s VAE titles back then was “Mr. Buick”. 

In a 2003 Wheel Tracks column, Gail Boardman writes about Dale Lake and quotes Bill Billado…….. 

“As time passed, things changed in Dale’s remote neighborhood. Folks from “down-country” started buying up parcels of the beautiful acreage and when in sufficient numbers, they decided that they were not impressed with Mr. Lake’s hobby interest, so the battle began. As you can surmise, Dale was not the victor in this legal scrap.” 

The story goes on to describe a VAE gathering where Mr. Lake made a “tearful plea for the membership to ’come and get ’em’ before the crusher deadline arrives. Bill described the summer where every single weekend, good and bad weather, the gang was at Dale’s place, competing and negotiating for his “Old Iron”. The gang included Bill, Tom Beebe, Larry Johnson, Doug Kelly, Roy Martin, Kip Matthews, Tom McHugh, Rod Rice, Gardner Spencer, Ray Unsworth, Al Ward, Ed Welch, Clark Wright, and probably others. Gail’s column describes a side benefit for the “gang” that summer was Dale Lake’s story telling and tips on caring for old vehicles. Mr. Lake always drove old vehicles, some that might not be pretty to look at, but they were all in tip-top mechanical condition. Bill said Dale Lake’s property was cleared of “old Iron” when the gang was finished. Gail Boardman’s 2003 Wheel Tracks column was written after Mr. Lake’s passing. 

Bill Billado

The next period of the Buick’s history was Bill Billado’s description of its ride north, from Ripton. Tom McHugh had purchased the Buick from Dale and a few of his friends had helped him load the many parts and pieces of the Buick onto a trailer. Bill writes…… 

“It was so fragile that it was necessary to tie the rotted wood body to the chassis with rope before setting out on the trip north on the back roads (fewer cops) to Burlington. The car made it all the way to Charlotte (just north of Mt.Philo) when the web of rope called it quits. All hell had broken loose with 4 doors and the rest of the body panels spilling out all over the road. The crew consisting of myself, Tom, Tom’s brother Joe, Clark Wright and Kip Matthews managed to re-load the pieces, haphazardly, back on to the chassis and we then re-tied the whole mess. We decided at that juncture to take the car to my place in Shelburne (without wife’s approval). The chassis was dragged into the woods and the body pieces were then transported to Tom’s place. The car then did a Rip Van Winkle number until many years later.” 

Bill says, to this day, some great memories come back every time he passes that area near Mt. Philo, the day the Buick was spread onto the roadway. 

After many years with part of the car at Tom McHughs house and the rest in Bill’s woods, Tom asked Bill if he would like to take ownership of the Buick. That is when the restoration phase began. 

1931 Buick Series 91

General Motors in the Port Elizabeth plant in South Africa had reconfigured one Series 91 Buick into a “dual-cowl phaeton in 1930 and that is what Bill decided he would like to do to his ‘31. The only difference is theirs was based on the 6-cylinder engine and Bill’s is based on the newer 1931 straight-8 model. 

He drew one eighth scale drawings of his dual-cowl idea to see what it would look like, then began the project. Fourteen inches was added to the frame and the body was shortened by 1/4 of an inch to accommodate the “close couple” rear seat area. He said there were too many great businesses involved to list, that helped him create the Buick that we see today, but one key business was the Auto Shoppe in South Burlington. 

The level of detail in this automobile is amazing, and we doubt there is not a detail or measurement that Bill can not give you from memory today. 

Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

There were 7,853 Series 91 Buicks built in 1931. They weigh 4340 pounds and cost $4340 (over seven times the cost of a Model A Ford). 

* In-line 8-cylinders 
* Overhead valves 
* Cast iron block 
* 3.31x 5 bore & stroke 
* 344.8 CID 
* Compression ratio– 4.5to 1 
* 104 HP @ 2800RPM 
* Main bearing-5 
* Mechanical valve lifters 
* Marvel Carburator 
* 3F/1R sliding gear transmission 
*Rear-end ratio 
* Double dry-plate clutch 

The Shafer 8 Buick in 1931 qualified in the Indy 500 and came in 12th place. 

1967 Plymouth Belvedere II Convertible

A new addition in the family of Angle and Jeff Vos. One of 1552 Belvedere II Convertibles now lives in St. Albans, Vermont.

Jeff Vos 1967 Plymouth Belvedere II Convertible

You can see the pride in Jeff Vos’ face anytime he mentions his ‘67 Belvedere. Most likely, when he was growing up in the North East Kingdom of Vermont, this red convertible was on his mind.

After many years as a carpenter and his present career with his own house inspection business, he finally owns one. Thanks to the Hemmings publication, he found the rust-free Plymouth in Florida.

Chrysler made the Belvedere from 1954 to 1970. The Belvedere name was first used for a new hardtop body style in the Plymouth Cranbrook line for the 1951 model year. In 1954 the Belvedere replaced the Cranbrook as the top trim and became a full model line with sedans, station wagons and convertible body styles. The Belvedere continued as Plymouth’s full-sized car until 1965, when it became an intermediate, and was replaced after the 1970 model year by the Satellite, a name originally used for the top-trim level Belvederes. Jeff’s Belvedere is a II. The Belvedere I was the lower sub-model in 1967 and the next two up from Jeff’s was the Satellite and the high performance GTX added just that year.

1967 Plymouth Belvedere II engine bay

When first meeting Jeff’s Plymouth, especially if the engine is running, “high performance” is what you hear. Most likely because the 440 engine is telling you “it is ready to go! The smaller engine the car came out of the factory with, was replaced by the former owner, along with the normal carb and exhaust additions that come with a major change like that.

Jeff’s understanding is the Florida owner made a really good decision when he decided to sell the vehicle, but a very unfortunate outcome came from it. The carburator and intake manifold was replaced to better match the engine.

During the inspection that Jeff commissioned, the car performed wonderfully, and the decision was made to purchase it and have it shipped to St Albans. During the unloading in St Albans, the car’s engine started to show signs there was something wrong. When Jeff took the car to an engine shop, the first thing they did was take the oil filter off and the problem was found. The engine had been destroyed because someone had not removed a cloth rag in the manifold when they installed the new carburetor. If you have been part of discussions among VAEers over the years, you will hear similar stories of close calls. One story comes to mind of a mouse nest that was swallowed by an engine.

Jeff’s Plymouth is fine now and better than ever. The engine has been rebuilt by one of the top shops in Vermont. While he was at it, Jeff decided to add power steering and front disc brakes. So, the Belvedere Con-ertible that he has dreamed about is now in his garage and purring.

1967 Plymouth Belvedere II Convertible tail
1967 Plymouth Belvedere ad

The pilot episode for the television show
Adam-12 featured a 1967 Belvedere as the standard LAPD police cruiser.
Belvederes were used in police service from the 1960s to the early 1970s, when they were replaced by the Plymouth Gran Fury. They were prominent in both the LAPD and New York Police Department.

It uses the Plymouth B-body platform, 3120 pounds, 116 inch Wheelbase, 203.4 inches long, the 440RB 7.2L engine produces 375 HP at 4400 RPMs.
New price $2695