Rambling Rose

Armond Menard of Oxford, NY (south of Norwich) owned a collection of approximately 70 collector cars and over 200 parts cars. That is until he auctioned them off in September 2002. Armond is known, in part, for his collection of Crosleys. The Crosley was the first production sports car made in the USA between 1939 and 1952. However, this story is not about Mr. Menard and his car collection, although it would make a great story. It is about one very special car and his granddaughter, Lisa Rissberger from Lake Placid.

When Armond decided to divest himself of his collection and as you can imagine, it was a difficult decision in many ways, certain members of his family wanted specific cars. Through several family discussions, it was agreed that the fairest way for all was to create an equal playing field by letting the family bid on the cars they wanted at the auction. Lisa said, “In retrospect, this really was the best way to deal with this.”

As a child, Lisa has fond memories of playing at her grandfather’s business – Menard’s Garage in Oxford. She remembers playing in and around the many different cars and creating make-believe houses in them. Throughout her childhood, there was always one special car to her, the pink and black 1958 Rambler Custom 4-Door Sedan. Lisa believes the attraction is based on the simple fact that pink is her favorite color. As Lisa grew older, her memories are of attending her high school prom in the Rambler and riding in it on her wedding day with her husband Todd. She said, “This is a car I always wanted to own someday.”

The Rambler was a featured car in the national advertisements for the auction and it attracted a great deal of interest, given its outstanding condition. When the bidding for the Rambler began, Lisa was too nervous to bid. Todd bid for her. As they stood next to the car, the bidding was down to them and one other person. Lisa and Todd had a limit. They had scraped together all the discretionary money they had to buy the car. They were sure they were not going to get the car when suddenly the competition between them and the other person ended.

They were successful. Overcome with the emotion of the event, Lisa and other family members broke out in tears at their victory. As Lisa made her way through the crowd, drying her eyes as she moved along, the man bidding against the Rissbergers stopped her and said, “I came here from Indiana just to buy this car. During the bidding, I asked my wife – “Why is that young lady bidding against me?” – The woman behind me, over hearing my comment said that the car was your grand father’s. I stopped bidding at that point.”

The Rambler is a perfect example of a 1958 car in outstanding condition. The seats still have the factory installed plastic covers on them. The interior is so nice, it received an award for best original interior. Lisa is technically the second owner of the car. It was purchased new in Utica. When her grandfather bought it, it was never registered. He always drove it with his dealer plates.

There is a rather nice list of equipment on the car. It includes a push button automatic transmission, AM radio, power brakes, power steering, fog-lights and a feature common to Ramblers of this era, a fully reclining front passenger seat.

The only work that has been done to the car since it was purchased was the installation of a new heater core. This is a task Lisa did herself, much to the surprise and delight of her uncles who still operate the Menard Garage. Spare parts for the Rambler come from a parts car that was part of the sale. Other work will be the installation of seat belt so their son Curtis (6) and daughter Carsyn (2) can ride safely in the back seat. Lisa also needs to determine the correct color of the wheels – pink or black. They are pink now.

The Rambler will be making its trip from Oxford to Lake Placid in June where I’m sure the Rissbergers will make a statement as they cruise the North Country roads. One thing that would make this beauty stand out even more would be a nice wooden boat being towed behind it. This could be a reality.

Todd owns TLC Restorations in Lake Placid. He specializes in classic wooden boat restorations. Until then, Lisa has begun a collection of anything with the name Pink Rambler attached to it. Her first purchase, appropriately, a Pink Rambler Rose Bush.

I hope you enjoyed the preceding article by our special guest author – Gary Wilkinson. Gary is a car enthusiast and collector who writes a weekly column that appears in many local papers in NY and Vermont. Gary would be very happy to meet some of our members and showcase them, our group and our vehicles. You just need to get in touch with him and let him know you are interested. You can reach Gary at 315-682-2315 or 315-447-8396 or by email at gwilkins@twcny.rr.com

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