The 4 Mile Car

Back in April of 1988 I bought a 1922 Dodge Touring that had not been run in 12 years and had been owned by a little old lady who — wait! — No, it had been owned by Ed Rotax who had had at one time or other about every old Dodge Brothers car in the state of Vermont.

Ed sold me the Dodge that was stored in one the many little outbuildings on the farm. This one had a ceiling so low that the car had to be stored with the top down. Ed drove it to NH for a car meet in 1976, and then parked it. Ed said there would be no problem starting it. He poured in a little gas, found a very tired old 12v tractor battery (he hated to let it go with the car, but I insisted), and sure enough, it started. Silently, as Dodges with starter-generators did in those days.

It had only one flat tire (after 12 years!) We pumped it up, put the top up, found the back bumper for it, and I was good to go to drive it the almost 4 miles home. I did eventually put new tires on it, the others seemed pretty original with Non-Skid tread and red rubber tubes. Ed asked for them back when I got the new ones. (I saved one for a spare.)

The main part of this story is coming up, though. Number 698132 is in mostly original condition. It was “repainted” (brush) some time in the late ‘40s when the top was put on, but the rest is pretty original. It was sold (I have the order form) for $995 (cash) by Bishop, McCormick and Bishop’s Dodge agency in Queens, NY, a stone’s throw from Broadway in NY City. They were still in the Dodge business as late as the 1960s. How that car remained pretty much untouched until Ed bought it off a truck in Albany, NY, in 1954 I don’t know. Untouched, but not unused. It’s now an 84-year old car. There are fender wrinkles here and there, a dent or 8 or 10, worn linoleum, tired leather upholstery in places, but mechanically it looks as if it has never been apart in the two or three times-around-the-earth mileage I think it has on it. It’s going to stay that way. You just can’t restore them to that condition. It’s a strong runner, and thereby hangs the tale.

This Dodge Brothers car would run beautifully for 3.9 miles, then stutter and quit during that last tenth and roll to a stop. (I lived in North Ferrisburgh then so all this took place on dirt roads—not Route 7 or 89.) The first 10 or 12 times this happened, I figured it is an electrical/gasoline problem. You know it takes only electrics, gas and air to make a motor run. I figured the air was okay.

A car that has problems sure helps to get you rapidly acquainted with its components. Over a six-week period I checked spark plugs, wiring, terminals, (new) coil, rebuilt the starter switch (it did poop out), cleaned the fuel system, and made new gaskets for the vacuum tank. (I wore out the old ones taking it apart often to see if it was the culprit.) Still a 4-Mile Car.

I consulted Ed Rotax. Ed is stumped. (First time in 70 years, he said.) I took the carb apart lots of times. Actually once a float had given up. That’s part of the problem—once in a while a real problem would show up. But not THE problem.

“There! By Jeezum, I bet that’s fixed it!” I would holler, and my wife would hop in and away we’d go— for about 4 miles. She would walk home and get a tow vehicle; the neighbors would snicker (again) as we rolled into the yard joined by our nylon umbilical cord. It runs so well! The best vacuum tank in New England, and cleanest carburetor. A perfectly timed hot-spark, smooth idling, 65 lb compression 4-cylinder engine. We can go anywhere in it. But not over four miles. Things hit a new low when I got towed home (backwards) by a neighbor with his little John Deere garden tractor. Even the dog was ashamed.

It took a while to figure out that it was a modern problem in an old car. Then one time it stopped and I was quick enough to raise the hood and hear the gurgle. HEAT SOAK! FUEL BUBBLE! What the hang was it called? VAPOR LOCK!! EUREKA!!!

Today’s gas has many lighter ends than the gas of even the 1950s. It is much more volatile, so vapor lock can be a real problem in old cars. A piece of aluminum flashing to shield the carb and gas line from engine heat was all it took to solve the Dodge’s problem. Now that smooth tucka-tucka-tucka from under the hood will take us anywhere past the 4 Mile Limit we want to go–as long as it is under 40 mph and on a back road.

The Dawn of Motor Trucking

I have always thought of trucks being an offshoot of passenger vehicles. I guess that comes from seeing turn of the century spindly looking conveyances that have no space on them for anything, but a couple of suicidal minded persons. Actually, in pursuing information for this short article, I primarily used a 1966-copyrighted book “That Was Trucking” by Robert R Karolevitz, a 192 page hardcover book covering commercial vehicles from the first quarter of the 20th century. The first crude wheezing gasoline powered trucks to those of the early twenties.

What is surprising is the fact that the appearance and the models of these early trucks changed little during these first years of the 20th century. While the earliest trucks exposed the operator and any passengers to the elements, this was thought to be inconsequential because of the short distances that these first movers of commerce and industry were capable of traveling, many on nothing more than steel rimmed large wagon wheels. What did become very apparent after only a few years of using these machines in place of horses, was the undeniable fact that much bigger loads could be hauled for smaller investments in equipment, and for less time spent tending to the machines over the horses.

Huge trucks dominated the trucking industry from the start. In pursuing the article on types of trucks and sizes, it was truly amazing to see the height obtained by stacking the products being moved. It certainly is obvious that many of the ancient trucks were overloaded even by today’s standards. This has to be a testament to the durability of the wagon makers, turned truck body manufacturers. The mechanical components of these earliest trucks appeared to be forged into solid steel components making an extremely heavy machine. Those early large commercial conveyances were probably susceptible to sinking from sight in the highways turned to mud troughs during spring thaws.

I have tried to cover the truck in its infancy in this article, and I would like to do a couple of other articles on commercial vehicles, around the home, the farm, commercial and industrial plants during the early days of transportation by truck. After all, the railroads who had a monopoly on long distance freight would soon see in the coming years a big change. To be continued…

2005 Restoration of the Year Award

1952 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe

1952 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe One snowy day in January of 2005 school was cancelled in Morrisville. Janet, a first grade teacher in Morrisville, decided to “play” with her Studebaker. It was too cold in the unheated garage to work on the car, so she decided to do a little sleuthing for missing parts for the car and missing parts in its history. Having recently received the build sheet from the Studebaker museum that showed the car was shipped to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota on October 21, 1952, she decided to begin by calling information and getting a number for the Town Clerk’s office in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Several very kind people, some interesting twists and turns, and many lucky breaks later she was able to close the circle, learning all of the Studebaker’s owners and everywhere the car has lived in its 53 year old life!

Janet and her car will be featured in the upcoming Spring issue of Hemmings Classic Cars, with more about how she was able to crack the “mystery of its history” and a complete restoration article with photographs.


October 9, 1952: Factory order # 54536-4 written for model 3H-C5, color: Maui Blue, wheels: Cuban Red, VIN#8277068

October 21, 1952: Final assembly date, South Bend, IN

October 27, 1952: Car purchased at Lakes Garage, Detroit Lakes, MN, by Immanuel Nielson of Detroit Lakes, MN. for $2548.98.

September 10, 1954: Car traded in by Immanuel Nielson. He received $1462.18 against a new two-tone, model 5-H 1954 Studebaker priced at $2812.18.

September 10, 1954: Car purchased by Harvey Bakken of Lengby, MN. for $1290.00, less the $900.00 he received for the 1948 green Commander he traded in.

1975: Car sold to Bob Harmon’s junkyard in Lengby, MN. for $50.00.

1977: Car removed from junkyard by Mrs. Harmon’s Uncle Louis Trisler of Des Moines, IA.

February 3, 1986: Car purchased by Lawrence Stewart of Indianola, IA from Louis Trisler.

October 8, 1989: Car purchased by Brian Tellstone, Richmond, VT, from Lawrence Stewart, for $2900.00, plus $650.00 delivery charge.

October 1995: My late husband, Bob, and I went to Richmond, VT to look at Brian Tellstone’s 1951 Black Cherry Studebaker Commander 4-door. I noticed another car in the garage and asked to see it. It was covered and filled with bagged garbage, both inside and out. I asked if that car might be for sale also, he replied he was going through a divorce and everything was for sale. Bob and I went home and discussed the cars. He liked the ’51, I liked the ’52 (being a ’52 model myself). Bob and I decided to make him an offer on both cars.

October 14, 1995: Date on the bill of sale; cars were delivered the next day, October 15, 1995.

June 1996: Went to Munchy’s car show in the car with Glenn and Joanie Yankee in the back seat. Glenn noticed the arm rest compartments and asked if he could look inside. He discovered myriad letters of correspondence, extra parts and previous invoices.

September 21, 1996: Car went to Chelsea, VT to be filmed in the Stranger in the Kingdom movie.

October 20, 1996: Car is returned from Chelsea, scratched and missing one hubcap. Car was parked in cattle loafing shed in my hayfield.

October 15, 2003: The building the car was housed in blew down in a windstorm, never damaging the car. The car was sent to Dan Spencer’s in Orange, VT to be painted. Paint job was never completed.

April 2004: Chrome was taken to ReChrome in PA.

June 2004: Chrome was sent from ReChrome in PA, (unfinished) to NuChrome in MA.

July 2004: The car was taken from Orange, VT to Superior Interiors in Hooksett, NH.

August 2004: Called Gary Sassi, introduced myself, and asked for advice about my car.

September 2004: Had a new garage built to house my cars.

September 2004: Completed chrome was picked up by Gary Sassi and me at the Bennington Car Show in the torrential rain.

October 2004: Car was brought back from Superior Interiors as Gary Sassi had recommended I have Rene Hargood of Phantom Auto in Knoxville, TN, make a kit for the car’s interior.

January 2005: Upon Gary Sassi’s recommendation, I called Gary Scott to ask for advice about what to do with my partially painted car. Gary Scott came to look at it. After getting under the car, he said I had more problems than I was aware of and showed me how the car was rusted out underneath and was about to fall off the frame. To my surprise he said he would be willing to help me fix up the unfinished paint and the structural issues.

May 30, 2005: Car was delivered to Gary Scott’s garage in East Barre. He was to have the car three weeks to repair the exterior paint, make patches and repair the structural problems under the car, pull the motor and paint everything under the hood.

August 30, 2005: Car was returned to Plainfield. Paint was completed, structural faults repaired and engine and compartment cleaned and painted. In addition, the trunk was sanded and painted, chrome was installed, upholstery was installed, clutch replaced, manifold gaskets replaced, under car greased, and countless other unanticipated items repaired or replaced.

September 24, 2005: Car went to Bristol Car Show and won third place in its class, despite the hood release cable coming unhooked and being unable open the hood to show off the newly painted motor!

October 15, 2005: Car received the Outstanding Automobile Restoration Award 2005, Stowe, VT.

I am thankful for and grateful to the following people, as without the generous gift of their talents and time, this project would never have been possible:
Gary Scott
Gary Sassi
Dan Peterson
Ray Shatney
Robert Steward, my late husband


My Experience at the 55th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Pebble Beach

I had never had the pleasure or situation where I could go to Pebble Beach or any part of the Monterey Festival which lasts over a week in August. Pebble Beach is considered the world’s premier gathering of classic motor cars which are “invited” to be on display during the one day culmination of a week of fantastic automobile pleasures! (Racing of vintage sports cars, tours thru a special parts of Southern California, fine automobile art exhibits, several high end auctions, corrals for the major enthusiast clubs, honoring of present and past automobile greats, etc.)

Andrea and I had arranged to get to Pebble for the Concours as part of our trip to California for a Rogers family reunion in Santa Rosa. Getting to Pebble Beach on Sunday meant getting up very early and driving straight for about four hours until we could park our rental car and walk several miles or take a bus to the site of the concours which is held on the area immediately between the Lodge at Pebble and the ocean next to the 18th hole. We eventually were “on site” after showing our tickets several times at about 12 noon!

Scott Sargent and Mike Lemire

We almost immediately ran into Mike Lemire and his friend, Olga. They were there because Mike and Scott Sargent, both friends, had just finished months of work on a gorgeous Bugatti cabriolet owned by Peter Mullin of Los Angeles.
In 2003 the car they had prepared won “Best of Show” at Pebble and this car was every bit as good, in my opinion. This time their efforts resulted in a 1st in class, a very significant award given the competition. In any case, for us it was a thrill to see my friends’ work so highly celebrated!

The featured marque was Delage but in addition twenty three classes of very special, rarely seen automobiles most of which were beautifully restored or maintained greeted our eyes, including a wonderful selection of rarely seen antiques such as a 1904 National or a 1904 Pope Toledo. Also some amazing vintage open wheel racecars such as a pair of 1916 Packard Twin Six and 1902 Napier Model D50 Gordon Bennett.

32 Alfa Romeo Spyder

What we will most remember was the variety of Alfa Romeos, mostly prewar, unbelievable in their variety of style and beauty but all stunning. It was also a special year for Alfa Romeo, a marque which has had a large presence at Pebble for many years. This year there were about sixty of the most famous Alfas in attendance, ranging from 1910 to 1956. All together there were about 200 plus cars, an ideal number for viewing in the time available.

1916 Packard Twin Six race car

A listing of the different makes of automobiles on display would be a who’s who of the great automobile manufacturers of the world. I was able to take about 40 photos a few of which are included, which indicate the variety and expressiveness of the assembled cars.

Finally it is important to mention that this one-day event is run with the utmost of professionalism. In spite of its exclusiveness, a pleasant and friendly atmosphere exists. I saw several people I happen to know from years of involvement in the hobby, among them David Steinman, a director of the VAE. It was a privilege to be on the grounds of Pebble and to share so many incredible cars with friends.

British Car Week

British Car Week has become an annual tradition that occurs during the last full week of May. This celebrated week has been chosen as a commemoration for the wonderful British automobiles of the past, and their enthusiastic owners, who have so proudly kept them maintained for all to see and appreciate many years after their production.

This special week is intended for all British car owners to get their British cars out on the roads in their little corner of the world, and give them the exposure they so rightly deserve. While not only heightening the awareness of these charming vehicles for new enthusiasts, it will also help assure their preservation for many years to come for others to appreciate.

For 2005, this event will take place during the week of May 28th through June 5th. The nice thing about the timing is that it will coincide with the weekend of the VAE Shelburne show! Please tell your British car friends to get the LBC out on the road and come to the Shelburne Museum for the show. If you don’t have your Shelburne reservation, get it now. See the “Drive Your British Car Week” web site at for more information on other activities for the week.

Plattsburg Transportation Museum

Located on the former Plattsburgh Air Force base is the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum (CVTM). It is located in a building at 12 Museum Way on the base and it celebrated its first birthday in the Fall of 2004.

The concept for the museum grew out of the find of a Platsburgh-built Lozier Type 82 limousine. Dr. Anthony Vaccaro located the Lozier in Washington State and noted that there were not missing parts from the vehicle. He then transported it to Ontario Canada for total restoration. Three years later the Lozier was fully restored.

In 2000 the Museum was started by a group of history and auto enthusiasts. The original intent was to dedicate it to the Lozier Automobile, however the collection has diversified into many makes and forms of transportation including trains, airplanes (and a cockpit simulator) to other classic autos. Some of which are still being restored and prepared for display.

The Museum is a continuous work in progress and is housed in three of the Air Base’s buildings. The design of the facility is to make it a hands on show. There is a area dedicated to children which allows for child friendly activities.

As the museum is run mostly by volunteers, hours have been limited to weekends and by special appointment. Their web site can be found at: or telephone them at: 518-566-7575.

2004 Restoration Award Winners

Our 1966 Corvette Convertible – The Story

My interest in Corvettes probably started back in 1954 when some friends and I attended the General Motors Motorama Show in Boston where the highlight of the show for me was the fairly new Chevrolet Corvette display. However it would be 21 years later that I would become the owner of one of these cars.

One day a family friend told us that a relative of his was going to sell his 1966 Corvette convertible and asked if we might be interested. The next thing I know the car is in our drive with instructions to drive it for a few days. This we did and after looking the car over and considering the condition of the paint and body and how badly it seemed to handle we sent the car back with a definite no answer.

During the time I had the car I had rolled the driver door window down several times, the last time, the thing failed, I ended up replacing the entire assembly inside the door. (I guess you could say this was the start of the restoration of this car though I didn’t even own it yet.)

About a week later we were on our way to BTV to catch a plane to Disney World with the kids, and as we turned off from Williston road on to Airport Drive, parked in the lot of the gas station on the corner was this same Corvette with a for sale sign on it. Don’t know what sort of chemistry took place, (I think I actually felt sorry for the car, it looked like it never had any TLC) but when we arrived at the airport I found myself in a phone booth calling the owner and telling him we would take the Corvette.

When we got back, the long road to this year started. My first project was to get the handling to a point where I could at the very least keep the car in my lane of the road. Some one had put wide Craggar alloy wheels and tires on the car, which was a misfit. I removed them and replaced them with OEM wheels and tires w/original wheel covers and spinners. Wow what a difference. Little did I know this was to be the beginning of my continuing Corvette education.

I very soon learned that mid years Corvettes have a parking brake system that was unique to them at that time. Although this design is used on many GM models currently, back then they were not compatible with Vermont weather, and when they fail, the procedure in the service manual didn’t really help. When I finally got to the inside where the working parts resided I couldn’t believe what I saw; it was one solid mass of corrosion. Thankfully I learned of a supplier who produced these parts of stainless steel. Great, the parking brake now works but the jubilation was short lived, as I found out, things, it seemed went downhill from here.

As I drove the car, it seemed that every couple weeks I would have to bleed the brakes. This lead to researching the brake system and learning that because of the design, using solid mounted calipers w/ constant contact pads to rotor, plus corrosion caused by moisture absorbed by alcohol based brake fluid, pumps air into the system. This required a complete disassembly of all four calipers (each having two halves) and master cylinder which I did, and sent them to a vendor to be sleeved with stainless steel. Reassembled them and installed them. One more problem solved. But the list continued. Over the next few years I replaced ball joints, springs, shocks, stabilizer links, all front and rear rubber bushings, wheel bearings, seals, trailing arm pins and bushings, rotors and pads

Since the very beginning the engine ran smoothly, but smoked moderately, however, eventually I detected a slight noise in the lower end. Before things got worse I pulled the engine and transmission. Did a complete overhaul on the engine,( machining done at a vendor’s shop) disassembled the transmission and installed a refresh kit which all took me a little over a year. This included installing a new radiator and rebuilding the windshield wiper/washer motor, carburetor, distributor and fuel pump.

During this period of time the inspection sticker had expired, so on the day of final completion I had made an appointment for an inspection at 4:oo PM that afternoon. However on the way didn’t a trooper stop me and give me a ticket. I tried to explain the situation, even asked the officer to call the station but said they didn’t have to do that. I sent the ticket in requesting a trial which never happened of course, as the assistant D.A. (young enough to be my son) let me off after hearing my story.

One thing that always bothered me about this car was that the electric clock never worked. So one day I took it all apart was able to find the manufacturer’s name and to my surprise I was still able to purchase parts (at car shows). I had the face silk-screened and reinstalled it. This was great, but it made the rest of the dash look terrible. You guessed it, out came the main dash, matter of fact out came the whole interior seats carpet, belts, everything. This was the point where we decided that we couldn’t reinstall a new interior unless we had the body repaired and painted. Since I didn’t really have a place to do body work or paint and my own body was now needing some restoration of it’s own, we had no choice but to have this done by an out side source. While this was being done I totally restored the seats and re covered them. In 1966 some of the options available to a purchaser were seat headrests and shoulder belts. These are available through Corvette restoration parts suppliers so I added these two features when finally installing the interior.

While my car was out to the shop for painting and bodywork it was learned that the frame was very weak in some key areas so the decision was made to remove the body and restore the frame. It was completely sand blasted repaired and painted and the body replaced. Again the parts to do this are available through Corvette parts suppliers.

We completed this phase of the restoration in mid May of this year, as you can see this was an on going project from day one, however we did on occasion have periods when we could drive and enjoy the car. Even when the car was off the road being worked on, we still attended Corvette shows to search for parts and network with other Corvette people to learn and exchange information. In spite of all the pitfalls, it’s been a great ride. Many thanks to my wonderful wife Jeanne, the kids Wendy and Greg, and a lot of other people, who all have either bought parts, or pawed through many boxes of used parts at car shows or just were there when I needed them in support of this project. Right now there are left over parts still in each of our bedrooms.

The Shelburne Concept: Shelburne for Profit?

I would like to encourage our members and friends to attend the upcoming Shelburne Classic Auto Festival. Please put these dates on your calendars now! JUNE 3, 4, 5, 2005. The VAE puts on two really great car shows each year, which are our source of income to pay for the VTC scholarships, monthly newsletter, notices, postage, stipends, sunshine donations, appreciation dinner, awards for members, etc. We pay hidden costs such as taxes, equipment repairs, insurance premiums, phone bills, and for monthly meets. This club is big business and we need your support. Every member of this club is subsidized. If it weren’t for being a profitable club, dues would be $85.00 per member.

I continue to listen to some controversy over the Shelburne car show as not being profitable. Do you realize that all the Shelburne car show needs to become profitable is you? The Shelburne show breaks even on a budget of about $20,000 a year. If the weather cooperates and at least 900 paying customers walk through the spectator gate, we get $9000.00 from the museum. If more walk through, the museum makes out. We have a cap on gate revenue, which is fine. (Remember the idea is to help out the museum as well as us). We don’t need the gates extra money. Don’t confuse Shelburne with Stowe. Stowe collects a gate revenue of $35,000 plus on a good year. But keep in mind that the Stowe budget is $60,000 plus. Stowe needs a huge gate to make up the difference of a $40,000 higher budget. Do you follow me so far? What Shelburne needs is you, your old car, your neighbor’s car, your kid’s car. Shelburne needs you as a flea market vendor, and your neighbor, and your friend as a flea market vendor.

Keep in mind that at Shelburne, the VAE keeps all the money from car registrations, flea market vendors, car corral vendors and tractor pull entries. Look at the numbers. If the Shelburne show breaks even with 260 cars and 24 flea market vendors, then lets add Stowe’s figures. Put 600 more show cars at Shelburne the day of the Show and we’ll have a $12,000 profit. Put 600 more flea market vendors there and we’ll have $18,000 more. The VAE can potentially profit $30,000 at the Shelburne car show. All we need is your enthusiasm for this VAE fundraiser. Imagine 860 cars at Shelburne. There’s plenty of room. And for those of you who think the classes are too spread out, they won’t be spread out at all if we have wall to wall cars!

Think about the advantages of the Shelburne show. Look at what Shelburne supplies us with for free that would be an out of pocket expense at any other show field: A show field, a flea market field, a tractor field, grass mowing, perfect road conditions, dust control, parking, overflow parking, bussing if needed, parking lot attendants, gate attendants, electricity, lighting, water, food, restrooms, trash bins, tents, tables, chairs, use of buildings, set up help, fenced off grounds, 24 hour security, telephones. Did I mention shade? In exchange the museum wants a first class show that’s been advertised heavily.

If you feel strongly about making money for the VTC scholarship then you should feel equally as strong about the Shelburne car show. They give us their facility on what would otherwise be a slow weekend for them in exchange for a busier gate. In so doing, we help to preserve Vermont history and an education center for people of all ages. School children, from every school in the state attend the museum at some point in their 12 year grade school education. All we have to do to help out is put on the biggest car show we can. Somehow 260 cars is not a huge car show for a 40-acre setting. It’s somewhat embarrassing. We could easily fit 1,000 cars on this field. We could easily fit several hundred flea market vendors. Maybe we abbreviate too much and should spell our name out more, VAE — Vermont Automobile ENTHUSIASTS. With a lot of Enthusiasm this show could be as big of a fundraiser as Stowe, on only one third of the budget and a lot less work.

Cruisin’ Shanghai

After 11 months of living in Shanghai, I’ve yet to find any sign of a collector car hobby, in this sprawling city, or anyplace in China for that matter. So, a motor head like myself is relegated to seeking out automobilia at the local antique flea markets or simply “car watching” to hopefully spot something interesting. In terms of American cars, my first 11 months have turned up some surprising finds. Not antique by US standards, but somewhat unique considering I’m in Shanghai.

I’m not talking about American branded cars produced in China, but those common “made in USA” vehicles that somehow found their way from North America to the Orient. How they got here will likely remain a mystery, since China does not permit the importation of used vehicles except under very special circumstances. My sightings have included examples of Americas “big three”, but it appears that only Chrysler Corp may have established a dealer network in Shanghai during the late 1980’s through the mid to late 1990’s.

I say this because Chrysler had quite a dealer network in nearby Taiwan at the time, and there are a relatively large number of Mopars of that era still roaming the streets of Shanghai today. For example, the ever popular Dodge minivan, from the late 80’s through mid 90’s and rebadged as a Chrysler with Chinese badging as well, is still a common sight on Shanghai streets. Less often spotted, but still fairly common are Dodge Shadows, an occasional Dodge Dynasty, and Dodge Spirit 4 door. Also seen are early version Chrysler Concords and LHS luxury models. On rare occasions, I’ve witnessed a later 80’s K car platform New Yorker.

The rarest of the rare, even on US roads, was spotted last February, when I was traveling to the airport to meet a Vermont neighbor who had come to visit. It was relatively early on a quiet Sunday morning as I traveled on the airport bus. As we waited at a red light, my eyes fell upon one of the very rare Chrysler K car stretch limos made between 1984 and 1986. I could hardly believe my eyes! There were only about 3,000 of these unusual mini limos produced and here was one of them roaming the streets of Shanghai! There has just got to be an interesting story behind how it found it’s way to China! There have been some GM finds as well, though not many. One morning last January while walking to my office, I came upon a bright red mid 90’s Corvette Roadster parked on the sidewalk. (Parking on the sidewalk is perfectly legal in certain sections of Shanghai.)

The owner was nowhere to be found, and I have never seen the ‘Vette again. Just a few days ago while walking through an upscale commercial district my eyes fell upon a black very new looking Corvette slowly cruising by, and needless to say getting second looks. A bright red late 80’s Firebird zoomed by me one evening, the only Pontiac I’ve spotted in Shanghai. By far the most popular GM marque in Shanghai is Cadillac.

Mostly seen are the big cruiser 80’s sedans, and the newer trimmed down 90’s models, but I’ve noticed nothing past the late 1990’s. These are used mostly for weddings, chauffeuring groups, or driven by VIP types or VIP wannabe types. While the Ford Motor Company is currently building a new facility in nearby Nanjing, very few American model Fords have been spotted in Shanghai. The few examples I’ve seen have been 1980’s beaters. One, an Escort had seen better days, and was contributing mightily to Shanghai’s already bad air quality.

Over the past 2 months, I’ve spotted two seperate Ford Tempos, both well worn, but neither in the dire straights the Escort found itself in. I’ve yet to spot an American Motors product, and not a hint of a 50’s, 60’s, or 70’s vehicle anywhere. While trucks now account for roughly 50% of motor vehicle sales in the US, they virtually do not exist in Shanghai.

Yes, there are SUVs and some minivans, but the pickup truck, and its many variations so popular in the US are very rare in Shanghai, or any other area of China I’ve visited so far. The few I’ve seen have been Nissan or Chinese make mini 4 door pickups. There is some interesting Automobilia in Shanghai however, and next time we’ll talk about it!

Vanity Plate Rule Upsets Editor

The following is a letter to DMV written September 9, 2004

Bonnie Rutledge
Agency of Transportation
Department of Motor Vehicles
120 State St
Montpelier, VT 05603-0001

Dear Ms Rutledge:

I am writing about the law that prohibits a vanity plate from containing more than 2 numbers. I would really like a good explanation of why this law is in affect.

My request stems from bitter disappointment that I was unable to purchase a vanity plate that I recently applied for – 80 HONDA – for my 1980 Prelude.

Even more disappointing is the fact that I will be unable to purchase the plate that is even closer to my heart – 65 HONDA – for my very rare 1965 Honda S600.

This plate – 65 HONDA – is used across the country by members of our club – the Honda Sports Registry. The plate is registered in New York to Brian Baker, in Maryland to John Deets, in Indiana to Ron Zarro and in California to Scott King. All these plates are on 1965 Honda S600s.

For four years now (ever since I bought my S600 and began restoring it) I have looked forward to the day when I could join the “club” and have my very own 65 HONDA license plates.

People applying for classic Honda plates are probably pretty rare but what about the Ford enthusiasts? This law applies to them to. There must be some very upset Ford owners out there who would love to have a plate like 49 FORD.

I think the “no more than 2 numbers” law needs to be reconsidered. The antique car club I belong to in Vermont – the Vermont Auto Enthusiasts – recently got a new law passed that applies to 1940 and older vehicles and the frequency of their inspection. Perhaps the removal of the “2 numbers per plate” law should be our next consideration for legislation.

Thank you very much for your time.
Ellen Emerson