Ontelaunee Region AACA – From “The Glorious Beginning”- Chapter 1

During the summer of 1964, Sterling Zimmerman wrote a letter to Lynn Zettlemoyer, then editor of Lehigh Valley Region’s “Body Squeaks,” concerning the situation of many Berks County residents needing an antique car club. These persons were not members of the Antique Automobile Club of America, but were friends of Zimmerman and had mutual interests in the field of antique automobiles. At that particular time, nothing was done pertaining to this original written request for an antique car club.

However, the first unofficial gathering of these Berks County car buffs was held on Friday evening, December 4, 1964, at the Kempton Hotel, Kempton, Pennsylvania. In attendance were Sterling Zimmerman, Royden Dotterer, Donald Peters, Lee and Clark Hummel, Otto Gruber, Robert Rhode, and George Stump. Mr. Stump, already well-known in AACA circles as a member of the hobby and an expert car upholsterer, had enlisted the aid of his friend, George R. Norton, Jr., of Reiffton, Pennsylvania, in setting up this meeting with Zimmerman and his friends. The one important accomplishment that first evening was the decision to hold another meeting which the public would be invited to attend.

Thus it was January of 1965 that a definite step was taken to form a club devoted to antique automobiles. An announcement of the formation meeting appeared in a January 1965 issue of the weekly newspaper, “The Kutztown Patriot.” The meeting was held on a Friday evening of the same month, again at the Kempton Hotel. Also attending with George Stump was George Norton, Vice President of Publications and Past President of the national organization of the Antique Automobile Club of America. Upon Norton’s arrival and prior to the meeting starting, it was requested that Norton talk first via telephone with Zimmerman, who was unable to attend this second meeting since he was recuperating from a hospital visit requiring surgery. Norton’s knowledge was invaluable when the group discussed the major decision which had to be made that evening – whether or not the assembled persons wanted to form as an official Region of the national AACA and enjoy extra benefits such as liability insurance, provided free by the national organization. After both avenues were thoroughly discussed, it was agreed by all to form an official Region of the AACA.

In order to present a petition to the parent organization, everyone was required first to join the national AACA. Sterling Zimmerman served as Acting Director. An official name was needed for the Region. After much discussion, Otto Gruber submitted the name, “Ontelaunee Region,” which was unanimously agreed upon. With this phase accomplished, Norton then presented this petition for a charter at the national Board meeting held during the 29th annual meeting in Philadelphia, on February 5, 1965. With the national AACA Board members acting in our favor by granting a charter, Norton was able to report back at our next meeting on February 12, 1965, that we were an official Region of the AACA. Again, this Friday evening the meeting was held in the dining room of the Kempton Hotel, courtesy of the proprietor, George Wessner. 

It was here that the election of officers was held with the following results:  Director, Sterling Zimmerman; Vice-Director, George Stump; Treasurer, Royden Dotterer; and Secretary, Lynn Zettlemoyer. Midway through the meeting following the election, Zettlemoyer asked that his name be stricken from the position of Secretary. Since he had agreed to serve as Editor for the future regional newsletter, he felt that it would be detrimental to the newsletter to have the Editor assume two positions. The previous motion was retracted and changed so the offices of Secretary and Treasurer were combined. Dotterer accepted both offices. This proved to be an excellent move, since he continued (most effectively) for the next seven years. In addition, Zettlemoyer announced the name of the newsletter to be “Tin ‘N Brass.” 

During the February meeting, it was agreed that the annual dues be $2.00 per year for a member and the member’s family. It was also decided to hold the regional business meetings the last Friday of the month. As time was growing short, it was impossible to become involved with the deep discussion of activities or selecting committees. The balance of the meeting was turned over to George Norton, who supplied the entertainment. He showed his collection of color slides taken in November 1964 of the world-famous London the Brighton run, a timed run that does not allow newer cars than 1904. The quality of his slides and witty remarks made the evening most enjoyable. With Norton was a guest, Mr. Phil Evans, an electrical engineer on a 3-week visit from Europe who gave a short talk on antique automobiles in Europe. The February Treasurer’s report showed income of $94.00 from 47 memberships, expenses of $53.83 for stationery, leaving a balance of $35.65.

1988 PORSCHE 928 S4

The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company purchased this Porsche on January 14, 1988 for high-speed testing of its premium tire series. Goodyear installed a roll bar and removed the mats for testing. The test track had an embedded window so that underground cameras could record tire characteristics. In early 1992, Goodyear completed testing, removed the roll bar and reinstalled the floor mats. The company offered it for sale to Goodyear employees in an auction.

Nancy and I purchased the car with 15,600 miles. Driving the Porsche back from Akron was great fun because it was fast, stable, comfortable and quiet. It has a V-8 engine displacing 302.5 cubic inches and producing net 316 horsepower and 316 foot pounds of torque. The engine has 32 hydraulically-actuated valves and can rev up to 6,600 rpms. The Porsche can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds with a top speed of 165 mph.

Porsche management drove 928s rather than the familiar model 911. The 928 was supposed to replace the 911 but did not. Porsche produced the model 928 from 1977 until 1994. Some cars
manufactured in 1994 were titled as 1995 cars. Porsche began building the four-valve-per-cylinder models in 1986 which are more valued than the earlier cars with two valves per cylinder. A stock but race-prepared 1986 model 928 S4 held the record for the fastest naturally aspirated automobile in the United States.

Our car now has 37,800 miles on the odometer and is still a joy to drive. Maintenance is complicated because the car has separate computers to monitor fuel injection, ride quality, ABS brakes,
transistor ignition, cogged timing belt and other systems. Did I tell you the engine takes 9 quarts of oil? So, other than regular wear and tear items, the repair costs have been reasonable. We replaced the tires, a timing belt, a fuel injection computer and leaking valve cover gaskets.

This Porsche is a pleasure to drive. The interior is fine leather; the instrument panel follows the steering wheel adjustment to suit the driver’s needs; and the seats adjust electrically to fit me. A full set of tools hides in the rear upholstered hatch and, provided you have short legs, the back seat is almost comfortable. I believe this Porsche performs with the best for acceleration and control. The brakes are among the best and the ride is refined. It may be the best driving car Nancy and I will ever own.

by Ron Hutchins

My 1955 Chevrolet

My family had Chevrolets when I grew up so it’s no wonder my first car was a 1948 Chevy which got me around when I was in high school. After graduation from high school I immediately joined the Army. When it looked like I would be stateside for a while I came home from Texas and purchased a 1955 Chevy, black with blue interior. I drove the car of my dreams to Texas and was no sooner situated when I got orders to go overseas. So I drove that car back home to Fleetwood and flew to California where I boarded a troop transport ship to South Korea.

Fast forward to 1997 and my father, Robert, had a 1955 Chevrolet BelAir which he had purchased used and had taken on many car tours for the Ontelaunee, Hershey and Penn Dutch Regions. It
was in 1997 that my father’s health started to deteriorate and he listed some of his vehicles for sale. I decided to purchase the 1955 Chevy BelAir from him.

It is a 4-door sedan with two tone paint, coral and gray, and white wall tires. It was the first successful Chevrolet with an optional V8 engine. Chevy’s new 265-cubic-inch overhead valve V8 was
designed to be smaller, lighter and more powerful than previous V8s and is known as the “Chevy small block”. In 1955 Chevrolet drastically changed its body design with the full shoebox look. The 1955 also had wrap-around glass on the windshield and triangular tail lights that jutted outward.

The Chevrolets manufactured in 1955, 1956, and 1957 became referred to as the “Tri-Fives.” The 1955 Chevrolet changed from a 6-volt to a 12-volt electrical system. Nineteen different two-tone
color combinations were available or one solid color. A standard column-mounted three speed synchro-mesh transmission was available with or without overdrive or the fully automatic two-speed Powerglide transmission. Mine is automatic.

When the car was restored I had the original engine rebuilt. I also kept the original color scheme. When my father purchased the car there were sanders in the trunk of the car. Sanders were remotely activated from a switch on the steering wheel column to drop sand in front of the rear wheels during icy road conditions. I assume the car was originally from one of the northern states. The sanders were not a dealer option but could be purchased and installed later. They were so unique I decided to leave them in the car.

The restoration was completed the day before the AACA meet at Gettysburg in spring 2018 where it won a First Junior. The car won a Senior award at Hershey that fall. I am working towards
earning a senior award at the National Chevy Club show. Accompanying this article are pictures of the car during restoration and as restored.


~ Lester Manwiller