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The Lake Erie Region of the
Antique Automobile Club of America

How Do You Keep the Old Cars That You Love?


By Mark Schleicher

I seem to go in spurts. A few years ago, I was in a buying cycle and before I realized, I had amassed a really nice collection of eight antique cars. I loved them all but I only drove half of them. It got time consuming and expensive and I felt guilty that four really nice cars were being totally ignored and not enjoyed by anyone, especially me. I decided to place ads for the outcasts In Hemmings and club publications, figuring that Iíd sell one or two, letting fate decide who stays and who goes. All four sold right away.

It turns out that I can drive the four remaining cars on a fairly regular basis with fewer headaches. The four that I sold are in the hands of new owners (ages 61 to 84) who seem to really enjoy them. I was especially gratified that the new owner of my 51 Studebaker convertible drove it from his home on the NY/NJ border to the Hemmings Concours DíElegance in Lake George.  There are two pictures in the December issue. It is his car now but I restored it and owned it for 28 years so it is still mine too.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I have no problems with old car lovers who possess the necessary finances, knowledge and space to amass a large personal collection of antique cars. Thatís an American dream and a direction in which I, for one, was headed when I got detoured by my own mortality. I havenít bought an antique car for a few years and am getting the itch for at least one more. Where are the kinds of old cars that I loved? It used to be that I didnít have to look too far. The cars found me.

I started to ask around. A well-known 76 year old collector/restorer/vendor complained he didnít have enough time to drive his ten old cars. An 80 year old noted:Ēevery one I know is in poor health and they all own at least four old cars. Their kids arenít interested. Thatís where all the old cars have gone.Ē They are correct. The owners are deceased, elderly, ill or have just plain lost interest. Relatives, care-givers, persons with power-of-attorney, executors etc. donít have the knowledge or inclination to get involved. The cars that we have loved are crammed into warehouses, garages, barns, sheds and some other pretty sketchy places where they are deteriorating. When those storage spaces are emptied or demolished, the cars will be gone. Iíve seen those storage spaces and the cars. They number in the hundreds if not thousands. Itís not pretty.

We need to bring back the old cars in order to keep the hobby going. Letís face it. There isnít much that is collectable after the mid-seventies. If you or someone that you know, has a stake in these formerly loved classics, set them free and give someone else a chance to love them.