1922 Harley Davidson JA

Are there any guesses what this 2-wheeled vehicle is? Hint… it is now 100 years old.

Fred Gonet of Proctorsville, Vermont
Fred Gonet of Proctorsville, Vermont

In 1901, 20-year-old William S. Harley drew up plans for a small engine with a displacement of 7.07 cubic inches and a 4-inch flywheel designed for use in a regular pedal-bicycle frame. It didn’t work very well.

Over the next two years, he and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson worked on their motor-bicycle using the northside Milwaukee machine shop at the home of their friend Henry Melk. It was finished in 1903 with the help of Arthur’s brother, Walter Davidson. Upon testing their power-cycle, Harley and the Davidson brothers found it unable to climb the hills around Milwaukee without pedal assistance, and they wrote off their first motor-bicycle as a valuable learning experiment.

1922 Harley Davidson JA engine gas tank
1901 harley

The three began work on a new and improved machine with an engine of 24.74 cubic inches with a 9.75 inch flywheel weighing 28 lb. Its advanced loop-frame pattern was similar to the 1903 Milwaukee Merkel motorcycle designed by Joseph Merkel, later of Flying Merkel fame. The bigger engine and loop-frame design took it out of the motorized bicycle category and marked the path to future motorcycle designs.

They also received help with their bigger engine from outboard motor pioneer, Ole Evinrude, who was then building gas engines of his own on Milwaukee’s Lake Street, designed for automotive use.

So, now to Fred’s silhouette. You have a better hint from the above paragraphs, plus, you know its 100 years old.

It is a 1922 Harley Davidson JA.

The ‘J’ means it has “intake over exhaust” with a 61 cubic inch V-twin 4-stroke engine. The ’A’ means it is a police model and more likely has a few more cubic inches of power.

It is chain-driven with a 3-speed side-shift transmission and brakes on the back only. The internet claims top speed is 85MPH and it weighs 319 pounds.

Fred found the Harley in Harmony New Jersey and bought it 31 years ago. He said the bike spent many of its earlier years, before he purchased it, in North Carolina.

Fred has done very little to it over the years he has had it. The nice paint job is from 1949, an indication the Harley has been someone’s treasure over much of its life. He had to remake the drive sprocket along with replacing the chain and a little electrical rewiring. That is it.

Fred and his wife BJ each have modern Harleys. When they go for a ride and he takes the ’22, they joke how Fred gets all the attention and BJ can expect none.

Fred did say that he has driven the old bike a lot over the years he has had it.

1922 Harley Davidson JA hand clutch

Can you see the hand control just behind the silver shift lever, in the picture to the right? It is a hand clutch. It was relocated to the handlebar in later years. If you watched Fred take off from a stop on a hill, you will witness some unusual moves. You will hear the engine rev up. Then you will watch what looks like him bending over to scratch the left cheek of his behind. That is not what he is doing!

Here is what you are seeing. He is holding the bike from moving backwards with his right foot on the brake while operating the throttle with his right hand. His left foot is on the ground to keep from falling over. The gear shift is in first ready for take off. When he is ready to move forward, he revs the engine a little and reaches below his left ‘cheek’ to release the hand clutch… all orderly and in good taste.

Asked why he wanted an early Harley Davidson motorcycle, Fred said his grandfather had a 1917. He has only seen a picture of his grandfather on the Harley, but at that moment many years ago, that was Fred’s dream.

1922 Harley Davidson JA

Fred Gonet owns and operates his restoration shop in Proctersville, Vermont. G & G Restorations has been in business for many years and is known throughout the Eastern US for its high quality work.

1901 Locomobile Steam Engine

And then there were two…….

Bill Erskine, above left, can’t stand having only one of anything. So, he spent hours wearing down Wendell Noble, pictured above right, before finally buying his 1901 Locomobile steam engine.

Bill Erskine found his first Loco steam engine at the AACA gathering in Hershey, PA, a few years ago. He had to make a few parts, that were missing, but soon had it running smoothly on compressed air. The engine was built in 1901 to run on 200 PSI from steam produced by the boiler pictured below.

1901 Stanley Steamer

Bill and a friend in New Hampshire have a long-away dream of building the 1901 Locomobile around this engine. Of course now, two will need to be built. Wendell Noble came across the 2nd engine earlier this year and for some reason Bill did not know about it until our August show in Waterbury. Can you imagine the “back and forth” these gents must have gone through before Bill carted his 2nd Loco engine home?

Everyone has heard about the Stanley Steam Car, but did you know there were two Stanley brothers who built that car? In fact, they were identical twins, Freelan and Francis.

Freelan and his wife, Flora, are credited with being the first individuals to drive an automobile to the top of Mt. Washington. That was August 31, 1899. They were driving the steam powered Locomobile they had built using an engine just like Bill Erskine’s.

The brothers had a successful business manufacturing photographic plates before they started tinkering with steam cars. They completed their first in 1897 and a year later sold their auto business to John Walker for $250,000. Mr. Walker, then asked Mr. Amzi Barber if he would like to join him as 50-50 partners for only $250,000. Barber accepted, but the partnership ended within months when he found he had been a bit hoodwinked.

The Locomobile brand continued until 1929. Their little Runabout weighed about 850 pounds and later in 1918, their prized gas-powered Locomobile Sportif weighed in at over 6000 pounds. Quite a weight gain!

The Stanley brothers soon left the Loco company to produce the car we all know, the Stanley Steamer.

Stanley Steamer engine

The engine pictured right is one of their first for the Stanley Steamer, very similar to the Loco, wouldn’t you say? The Stanley autos were built from 1905 until 1925, all using steam power.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see all the steam engines, side by side, that steam car manufacturers used in 1900? There were 61 steam car brands in the United States at the time. You can see the September 11th, 1900 drawing below was called “Stanley Steamer”. All the while the brothers were working as Locomobile plant managers for Mr. John Walker, that stellar gent who fooled Mr. Barber.

It seems like the auto business was a little like the wild west in 1901.

Francis and his twin brother Freelan Stanley were born June 1, 1849 in Kingfield, Maine. They also had a sister named Chansonetta, a gifted photographer. Francis died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in 1918. Freelan died on October 2, 1940.

If you are ever in Kingsfield ME, you can find the Stanley museum at 40 School Street.

Stanley Steamer engine patent

1925 Overland 91A

From life in a steel Quonset hut in Tennessee to Charlie Thompson’s loving garage in Colchester, VT. This 1925 Overland has many new adventures ahead.

1925 Overland 91A front

Charlie Thompson has been without an old car ride for a while now. His beloved 1930 Whippet has some engine problems and he needs to have it rebuilt.

Most of our old car problems are caused from lying around, in a barn, doing nothing. Not Charlie’s Whippet. He has worn the heck out of it, traveling to most of the states east of the Mississippi. There are many famous on-the-road stories from his traveling adventures. It is too bad he is so modest, most of us would have the stories plastered everywhere, but not Charlie.

Wendell Noble remembers telling Charlie some ideas for fixing the holes in the running boards of his Whippet. Wendell says Charlie patiently listening to every one of his suggestions and at the end simply replied by saying, “Why would I do that?”.

Another of Charlie’s replies when asked if he was ever going to restore his Whippet….. He would reply by saying he had just finished the restoration a few weeks earlier.

A few months ago, Charlie was attending the WOKR car club International Meet in Huntsville, Alabama. WOKR stands for Willys, Overland, Knight Registry. During a club visit about 40 miles north of Huntsville, in Tennessee, he spotted the Overland pickup among many old vehicles owned by Ed Hanish.

1925 Overland 91A rear

1925 Overland 91A #256864

  • 1911 Production…….eleven
  • 1925 Production…..157,000
  • Base price……$530
  • Engine…4-cyl 27HP
  • Transmission…..3-speed manual
  • Wheel Base…..100 inches
  • Weight……1769 pounds

Charlie’s overland was a coupe and has been made into a pickup, with overland blue paint.

He also found it was for sale.

After talking it over with his wife, Marion, he decided he would travel back to Tennessee with his trailer to bring it home to Vermont. Not everyone has a neat wife like Marion!

He is doing a few “fixes” on the Overland, with hopes of getting it registered and on the road soon.

The ring gear has an issue and there is a plan to replace it with a spare. The carburator has been cleaned and tuned and the starter has received a “green-light” from Smitty’s Starter Shop in Sheldon.

Asked when he will be heading out on a multi-state journey in his new Overland, his only reply was to wait until he and the car gets more acquainted. He has had 55 years to get acquainted with his Whippet and look at the adventures they have had!

The twentieth century was the century of the automobile in which this machine went from the plaything of the wealthy to an important part of everyday life for most people.

the overland logo

During the first part of the twentieth century, many entrepreneurs began to design, manufacture, and market automobiles. Most of these early manufacturers failed to survive the Great Depression of the 1930s. One of these early companies was the Overland Automobile Company.

When Claude Cox was in his senior year of Rose Polytechnic Institute, a small private college with a program in engineering, he made a three wheel vehicle for his senior year thesis. In 1902, Cox met with Charles Minshall, the owner of Standard Wheel Company of Terre Haute, Indiana. Minshall was interested in building an automobile, but didn’t know how to. Cox seemed to have the knowledge so Minshall hired him to head Standard Wheel’s new automobile department and design the car.

In 1903, Cox designed and built a car much advanced for the time. The new car was named the Overland and featured a two-cylinder water-cooled engine that was mounted up front under the hood. The car also featured a removable switch plug so that it could not be driven without it.

The first Overland was a runabout. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the runabout was a common open-car body style, small, and inexpensive.

According to “The Standard Catalog of American Cars” there were 154,292 Overland automobiles built between 1903 and 1914 when the brand name changed to Willys-Overland. The last vehicle built with the Overland name was in 1927.

The Annual Olney Shuffle

All families have traditions, some with food at different holidays such as there would be no Thanksgiving without green bean casserole or Christmas without eggnog. You get the idea, right?

I am sure that if asked, every family has something they do year after year and would not consider doing it any different or, heaven forbid, not at all!

It did not take me long to realize the Olneys had traditions when I (as new member of the family) suggested we have prime rib instead of turkey for Christmas dinner. “We always have the same dishes as we have on Thanksgiving,” which was exactly why I was suggesting they agreed, and my mother -in-law volunteered to bring the beef.

But you should know that the turkey and all the fixings were also planned. As we sat down to Christmas dinner, it was announced that Nancy had suggested beef this year, and with all eyes on me, my mother in-law put the “prime rib” on the table. The first thing I noticed was it was in a bowl, and as it passed to me, I could see imagine – the turkey that came after was hailed as “the best ever”! We never spoke of this again.

Another tradition the Olneys had (and have) is what I call the annual Olney shuffle. This is where you try and move all your great abundance of “stuff,” not to sell, not to give away, not (heaven forbid I utter the words) throw away, but just move them east or west and sometimes north and south in the warehouse. I will tell you this is no easy task, but there is something born in you to move it around.

Of course, there is never enough help or space to make this happen. More often than not, tempers flare and frustration abound and, on occasion, some “sailor” language is uttered, but you push forward.

This year the move was especially difficult because none of the cars could be driven. What that means is using all “man, woman, child, neighbor power” to get the job done! We have lived here long enough for the neighbors to recognize what is about to happen, and they plan day trips (out of town). I think they visit our “kids” that happen to be away!

I will say one of our neighbors, Andy, always comes and helps with the move. I have not figured out if he enjoys it or cannot find an excuse fast enough; but what I think is that he is just a great guy and probably it has become one of his traditions every year.

This year’s move is almost done. No major mishaps – like a few years ago we were moving a pickup truck (the one bought by the “Pickers”), Gary was towing it, and I was to throw a tire blocking the wheel when the tow rope broke and it barreled down the hill and went through the neighbors’ fence!

I guess the only almost disaster was the Studebaker’s tether broke and that almost went down the same hill and would have hit a tree, but Andy and Gary were able to stop it!

The only problem now is that we have two vehicles out that need to go in and the space is full!

We will have to figure that out before winter. Of course, I will have to say it is not exactly as one would want it, but, oh well, there is always next year!

1967 Plymouth Barracuda

The Story of “Ruby” the ’67 Barracuda

By Chris Barbieri

barbieri 1967 plymouth barracuda
Meet “Ruby” and her new family, Laurel and Chris Barbieri

I must begin by admitting that I come from an extended MoPar family. My parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents all drove Plymouths and Dodges. Those hand-me-down cars carried me through school and until I was on my own.

The first car I bought was a six month old 1964 Barracuda with 17,000 miles on the odometer! That’s another tale for another time. That Barracuda was the first of three series of Barracudas, basically a Valiant with a huge rear fastback window, modified grille, and 7 ft. of flat space if needed. Mine had the new 273 V8 and 4 speed Hurst shifter.

As my ’64 Cuda was pushing 100,000 miles it gave me an excuse to trade. The local Plymouth dealer had a special ordered ’67 coupe with the Commando V8 and console Torqueflite automatic transmission for a customer that never showed up. I couldn’t say no. Once again it was pretty and fast, but it wasn’t a convertible. It was a great car in many ways and I was hooked on Barracudas. It was hard to describe. Simple yet beautiful, devoid of chrome, and sleek at the same time. To me it was a Wow! And it came in three choices: a notchback coupe, a fastback, and a convertible. The second-generation Barracuda’s covered 1967 to 1969 models. The yearly styling changes were so minimal that it’s hard to tell a ’69 from a ’67. When the 1967 Barracudas were introduced in late 1966, I knew it was love at first sight. I was hooked on the ’67s, especially the Barracuda convertible which led to a decades-long on and off search.

1967 plymouth barracuda nose

Over the years lots of old cars have come and gone from our garage including three convertibles, none of which were a Barracuda. Finally, I decided to begin another casual search for a ’67 – ’69 convertible. I’m an original or as close to original nut when it comes to old cars. I like surfing the internet from time to time looking for 50s through 70s old original MoPars. My favorites are the 60s offerings. Plymouth produced a 1967 model year run of 62,534 Barracudas, of which 4,228 were convertibles. Well, try to find a 60s or 70s unmolested American car today. I knew that over the years the convertible inventory would be declining, and indeed, my on-and-off search produced mostly beat up, tired, modified, rodded examples. There were a few Barracuda soft tops but not many. Often, they had modified wedge or hemi engines. I wanted an original or restored as-original, period. Poking around on my laptop in the Fall of 2018, there suddenly appeared exactly what I was looking for. And it was in eastern Massachusetts not west of the Mississippi. A phone call to the seller revealed a major as-original restoration and the car was still available. Interested? Yes, but the price was well out of reach. The ad soon disappeared so I assumed the Barracuda had found a new owner.

Surprise! Surprise! as Gomer Pyle would say. In spring 2019 the ad returns with a lower price. After a visit to check out Ruby and intense dickering, a deal was made. Ruby has an interesting life before she became part of ours . It starts and ends as a family affair.

1967 plymouth barracuda golf course

In 1967 Ruby is purchased new from a now nameless Chrysler/Plymouth dealer in the Holyoke, Massachusetts area by a local couple about to retire. The original color is brown. They were moving to Florida and wanted a convertible to take with them. Some years later they pass on and Ruby, whose color is now yellow, moves on to a nephew who lives in Massachusetts. He appears to take good care of Ruby, occasionally attending old car shows and she is garaged when not on the road. As the years pass on the nephew is in need of new funds. He asks his newly retired brother, George, if he’s willing to buy Ruby and the answer is yes.

George is an engineer but not a car guy, especially not an ‘old car’ guy. Yet he decides to restore Ruby. He has limited automotive restoration skills, so everything is farmed out – to a body shop, machine shop, transmission shop, paint shop, and so on. Most of the MoPar suppliers were called upon. Everything on Ruby is new or restored or refinished.

Why the name Ruby you ask? When it came time for the restoration paint job, the plan was a ’67 Plymouth red but George’s wife preferred a ruby red color from the ’69 Mustang offerings. So, upon arrival home to Vermont she was christened “Ruby” to match her ruby red paint job.

As mentioned earlier George was an engineer. Thankfully, he kept every receipt for every purchase of every part or service that went into the restoration. He also kept every replaced part of Ruby, both body and mechanical. They all came with the car and now reside in our attic. As for Ruby, she resides with her other A-body siblings. Fortunately, they welcomed their cousin and are getting along fine together.

1967 plymouth barracuda tail

Clutter? What Clutter?

A while ago, when the woodstove was going 24/7, which meant I couldn’t do any spring house cleaning, and we were dealing with mud season, I decided to do something with the mess in the cellar. We had accumulated stuff from Gael’s grandparents’ house, Gael’s mother’s house, my parents’ house, and our own personal pile (sound familiar?). It was getting pretty bad. You really have to be in the right mood to tackle something like this. So I acted quickly when that mood hit me.

I discovered a lot of stuff I never knew was down there and found some interesting three bud vases for old Volkswagens, for starters. I started asking people if they had ever heard of Borgward and, much to my surprise, only a few people had.

Then, behind boxes I found Gael’s collection of comic books that had been through a few floods in the cellar. Unfortunately, most of them were beyond saving. I did salvage one…..a 1953 Donald Duck comic book.

Donald Duck was one of my personal favorites. How many times has someone told me something was worth a lot of money? I went on eBay and found the same comic book for a mere $4.95. Not going to get rich selling that.

I pulled out from the bottom of some shelves a trunk that must have belonged to Gael’s grandmother, and it was filled with women’s clothing from years ago. I’ll save that for another time. Another thing I found was my toy gun and holster that I cherished when I was quite young. I was a big fan of Roy Rogers back then and would go to the matinee on Saturday afternoons with friends and my bag of popcorn.

I ended up throwing away a lot of things that were full of mouse droppings or sunflower seed shells from many years ago, gathered up all the canning jars that seemed to be everywhere and got them all together, old bird feeders and suet feeders — some I tossed and some I saved — broken things that would never be fixed, magazines that were taking up too much shelf space. I did save some boxes with AACA magazines and Bulb Horn magazines from years ago. They were too heavy to move, so they are still on the shelf.

I discovered an old record player, an old typewriter, an old adding machine, one of those old set tubs that women used to use with wringer washers, a big floor scale with weights. I also organized all the Christmas decorations that seemed to be spread all over. They are now in one place on another shelf.

Speaking of shelves, many years ago a few people got some old shelving that came from the local Grand Union store when they were remodeling, and one wall in the cellar is lined with those shelves. They are great because they are deep and can hold large boxes.

I was able to reorganize my gardening supplies, the painting supplies, the pet supplies, and can now walk down there without feeling overwhelmed. There is still much to do, but it was a good start.

Thank goodness for pickup trucks and recycle centers where I unloaded many truckloads of junk. Warm weather finally came and my cellar cleaning is now put on hold, but at least I made a dent in the cellar clutter.

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

What Spare Time?

Before I retired a couple years ago, I’d ask my mom if she would do me a favor and [fill in the blank]. I’d undoubtedly hear her say, “I’m very busy today, but maybe I’ll have time.” Now that “blank” could be filled in with any number of things, from making a batch of brownies to running an errand for me. I figured she was bored with nothing to do since she was retired many years at that point so, heck, she’d just say yes.

Well, fast forward 2+ years into retirement. I’m busier now more than I can say and still can’t quite seem to find the time for all the things that “need” to be done or I “want” to do. Now what point, you may ask yourself, is Anne trying to make here. Well, the point is that our annual car meet is next month, and I’ve taken over the task of registering cars from Jessica Bean, who did an amazing job of handling things these past number of years. Now it’s my turn to register your cars, and that’s definitely a “need” because if I don’t do it, a lot of car owners will be mighty unhappy.

Also, at last year’s car meet I thought the Valve Cover Racing track could use sprucing up (yes, you can say busy-body), so I spent the three days of the meet painting the track, except for the “winner’s circle.” That, Don and I hauled home after the show. But do you think I’ve finished painting it?

Nope. Nada. And it’s been 10 months! Another “need.” And I was so enthralled with the Valve Cover Racing last year that I bought not one but two valve covers to build a couple cars. Do you think I’ve done that? Uh-uh (though I have to say I’m still waiting for my nephew to get me the wheels off his old in-line skates). So these race cars I’d put in the “want” column.

I need to weed my garden. I want to fit in lunch with friends. I need to feed the cat. My list could go on and on. How about your list?

The 65th Annual Vermont Antique & Classic Car Meet is August 12, 13 & 14. You “need” to get your registrations in. Do you “want” to have to pay the increased rate by missing the deadline of July 15?

So get your registrations to me and you’ll be good to go. And by the time you read this, I’ll havefinished the “winner’s circle,” but, alas, I won’t have a car this year to send down the track.

We all “need” to be at the car meet in Waterbury this year. We “need” to welcome back all our Canadian friends. It’s been far too long. So see you next month. And if you get a chance, come to the registration booth to see me. I “need” to meet you in person!

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.

Zip-Zip, New Line

I recently discovered a neat trick to help form new hard brake lines. I am a huge fan of nickel copper tubing; it is very easy to form and lasts forever. I have found that it makes sense to leave a little more material on the end of the line when making flares, as the nickel copper compresses more than steel does.

When replacing a hard line with a new line, it is a lot easier to make all the turns and bends by zip tying the new line to the old one as you form it. Place several zip ties at the end, leaving enough room for the fittings, then add zip ties as twists and turns are formed. This method still leaves enough room to use tubing benders to form correct turns without pinching the line. When the new line is formed, just snip the zip ties off, add the fittings and make the flares on the ends. Your new line will match the length and shape of the old line.

Using this method, the new line should easily take the place of the old line and fit in the proper clamps and holders.