The Rauch Convertibles

I was the baby of the Rauch family. In fact, my brother, Nevin was 16 years older. Our family lived in Stony Run when he was born and we lived in Krumsville when I was born.  This story is about Nevin Rauch and two of his cars, a 1948 Hudson and a 1964 Buick. Both were dark red convertibles. I now own the Buick, an Electra 225.

Although we grew up in Berks County, we spent a lot of time in Allentown.  Our father had an open huckster truck from which he sold eggs and potatoes to people in Allentown. My brothers, Nevin and Herbert, took over the sales route and grew it with two trucks under the name, “Rocky’s Fancy Fruits and Vegetables.” “Rocky” developed from our family name, Rauch. They expanded the inventory to include fish, candy, sticky buns, canned goods and corn. Summers, I worked for my brothers who drove the trucks throughout Allentown, each with a different daily route. My principal responsibility was to sell corn for which they paid me the handsome sum of $50 for the whole summer. If I asked for more money, they told me I already ate too much of the inventory.

Brother Nevin always liked red convertibles. He attended Kutztown High School and worked in the silk mill on Highland Avenue to save money for cars. Attached is a picture of his Hudson six-cylinder convertible. I do not know if it was a 1948 or 1949 model but it does not matter because they were the same. Each had a new “Step-Down” unitized body which referred to the floorpan surrounded by frame girders instead of a body shell sitting on top of the chassis. Each had a 124-inch wheelbase. I do not know if it was a Super or a Commodore but it does not matter because they were distinguished chiefly by a few extra interior appointments in the Commodore.

What matters is that this Hudson was a “hot” car. The smooth, clean sides tapered to small taillights in an aerodynamic design. The low center of gravity looked fast and helped the car hug the road. The six-cylinder engine had 8 more cubic inches in displacement than the 8-cylinder engine but weighed much less. Acceleration in 1948 was 0 to 40 mph in 12 seconds with an automatic transmission and quicker with a manual transmission. The engine became the 308 cubic inch power plant used by stock car champions from 1952 to 1954.

Nevin transitioned from truck route sales to the restaurant and motel business. In 1959-1960, he built the Skyview Restaurant located on the northeast corner of I-78 and Route 737 and the Top Motel, located on the southwest corner. He drove Buicks because Hudsons were no longer available. He moved from Maxatawny Township to Stafford, Virginia and drove a 1964 Buick Electra 225 convertible. One day he drove the dark red Buick to our yard in Kuhnsville and left it there for me.

In 1959, Buick renamed its Roadmaster the Electra 225, signifying a 225-inch wheelbase. By 1964, the 225 came with either a 401 cubic inch V-8 with 325 bhp or a 425 cubic inch V-8 with 340-360 bhp. In 1964, Buick made 7,181 Electra 225 convertible coupes at a base price of $4,374. We did not modify or restore the Electra 225, and have enjoyed showing it at Hershey in the HPOF class (historic preservation of original features). In our trips to Hershey, Carl would trailer the 1950 Studebaker or drive the 1951 Studebaker, I would drive the 1960 Lark and our children would drive the Buick.

The Buick accompanied us on many tours with the Ontelaunee Club. Carl and I would join forces with Forrest and Bertha Hoffman to host many tours. They drove Edsel convertibles. Forrest has passed but Bertha resides in Oley. I enjoy speaking with her regularly. The Buick brought us together. Thanks to Nevin for this wonderful Buick!


  By Minnie Breininger


LeRoy’s ‘64 Chevy

When I was a teenager, the second car I owned was a 6-cylinder 1964 Impala 4 door hardtop. I eventually got rid of it and, over the years, regretted it.  I used to tell my wife, “Someday I would like to get another ‘64, but this time I want a convertible.” So, as Paul Harvey used to say, “And Now, For The Rest Of The Story”.

I bought my present ‘64 in the Fall of 1997 through an ad in “Old Cars Weekly” from a fellow in Long Island, New York. Not only is it a convertible, it also has a 327 V-8 engine (only one 4- barrel carb though) and a 2 speed powerglide transmission. It is also a Super Sport Impala which means it has bucket seats and a center floor console for the shifter. On the way home, I got lost and ended up getting home long after dark.

The car was originally purchased in Arizona and how it ended up in New York is a mystery to me. The previous owner was a cousin to someone who worked with several movie producers. So, whenever a film was shot in the New York area, he “rented” some of his cars for use as “background” cars in the movies. He claimed that my car was in “Carlito’s Way,” “A Bronx Tale,” and one other (I forget which one). The very front end (side view) is also in a Mariah Carey music video. He also showed me a photo album of autographed pictures of some of the New York Yankees and the New York Rangers with the car. The car was in a parade for the Yankees and the Rangers when they won championships in 1996 and 1994 respectively. (One of my regrets is that I didn’t insist on getting the album too.)

In 1999 we did our first tour with the Ontelaunee Club as a guest of Eugene Klinger. We broke down about half way through the tour. It was still fun. We ended up joining the club in 2000.

Over the next several years I had to solve several problems. First came new shocks and springs to keep from bottoming out at the slightest bump. Next, came a carburetor problem and later, an electrical problem that I chased four about 4 years. It was Ray Fisher who finally put me on the right track to solving it.

In December 2007 I decided that it needed some work so, as a start, I planned on getting it painted.  Shortly after I made this announcement to my family, I came home one day to find my car gone. My wife said she had talked to the guy who owned the body shop that I planned to use to paint the car and he took it to his shop.  As spring approached I started wondering when I was getting the car back. My wife told me he was working on it “on the side” to keep the cost down so it would take longer than usual. More time elapsed and I got the “itch” for cruising with the top down—especially as the weather warmed up. I kept getting excuses and, one day, I got out of work early and decided to stop at the shop and see what the holdup was

When I inquired, I was told it was in the corner of the shop. Imagine my surprise when I looked over and couldn’t find it. I asked again and the employee (owner wasn’t there at the time) said once again, that it was in the corner. A second look confirmed that it indeed was my car— except it was a rolling chassis— frame, engine and wheels only!!! I could not believe it!!! My first thought was that a horrible mistake was made and the owner misunderstood what I wanted done.  They then took me to another building and showed me the body on a rotisserie set up!  When I got home and told my wife, she confessed. She ordered (and paid for) a frame-off restoration!! What a surprise!!!

The paint is called Electric Blue. This is not a “Chevy” color but is actually a variant of Cyan Blue and was originally developed for Hot Rods. The True Spoke mag wheels on it were on the car when I bought it. Once the outside was done, my wife actually designed the interior seat and door patterns and had it done in colors matching the blue paint and white top. Not only was the dash given matching blue paint, the two tone steering wheel was also done in matching blue and white.

As many of you know, I love driving it with the top down and, over the years, we have had many memorable rides with it— especially on club tours.


By LeRoy Hinkle


My Nash Metropolitan

No! It is not a little clown car. It is a cute yellow and white “compact” car that was built in England by Austin Motor Company, and sold in the United States by American Motors Corporation, to compete with Volkswagen.

Metropolitans were produced between 1954 and 1962, and my car is a 1957. The public responded favorably to a Metropolitan prototype called the NXI, with a Fiat 500 drivetrain, displayed in 1950. By 1953, Nash developed production of the Met. Bodies were produced by Fisher & Ludlow, Ltd. in England and delivered to Austin for installation of powertrains. Austin delivered 13,905 Metropolitans to Nash through 1954. In 1956, Nash announced the Metropolitan 1500 which had a stronger engine and clutch, and two-tone paint scheme.

My parents discovered the car in Philadelphia, near my grandparents’ home.  It was parked on a city street along with other old cars.  The owner loved antique cars, but did not have a garage, therefore they were lined up on both sides of the street.  My father found out who owned the Met, but the man was not interested in selling it.

A few years went by and my father got a call from the man’s wife that her husband had taken a stroke and now wanted to sell the Met. When we met the owner at his house, he introduced himself as “Joe-read the paper” We asked how did he get that unusual name.  He told us that his parents had been born in Italy, and couldn’t read English.  Every day they said “Joe-read the paper” and the name stuck with him ever since.

The car was purchased in 1989 and underwent a ground-up restoration, and winning many first-place trophies, including an AACA Senior award. My husband, Howard, and I still own the car and plan on taking it to the AACA Grand National meet at the NB Center this summer.

Nash-Kelvinator Corporation merged with Hudson Motor Car Company and became American Motors Corporation in 1955. American Motors produced 15,317 Metropolitans in coupe and convertible form during1957, of which 11,791 were sold in the United States.  It has a 52 horsepower Austin engine and gets 40 miles to the gallon.  It has been a fun car to own for over 30 years.

By Bonnie Schorr

The Lincoln Highway

A few years ago, Elsa and I travelled across Pennsylvania on the Lincoln Highway (Route 30). This article describes the history of the Lincoln Highway.

The Horseless carriage rolled onto the American landscape in the 1890’s, and by 1910 there were 450,000 registered automobiles, but no public road system.  In 1913, Carl Fisher, the man who built the Indianapolis Speedway in 1909, and other auto industry leaders, formed the Lincoln Highway Association. The purpose was to create a direct coast-to-coast automobile route.  The Association’s first official act was to draw up a 3,389-mile,14-state continuous route from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. The road was completed in 1915, and its imperfect conditions were improved over the next few years.

In 1913 there was even a guidebook published. By1924,1500 vehicles per hour  passed through the New Jersey portion of the highway. This was the last year a guidebook was published.  In 1919 a convoy of Army trucks traveled across the country to demonstrate the use and significance of the road. In 1925, the United States adopted a highway numbering system, and the Highway became Routes 1,30, 40, and 50. In 1928, in order to identify the Highway, the Boy Scouts traveled from New York to San Francisco marking the route with concrete posts. The Scouts took a month to cross the 14 states, and rode the route in a Reo Speedwagon, a truck specially fitted for the trip. Three thousand concrete markers were placed along the route.

In 1928, the Lincoln Highway Association was disbanded. In 1939, the Lincoln Highway was advertised as the connecting link between the New York World’s Fair and the San Francisco World’s Fair. The Lincoln Highway began in Times Square, and there was only one mile of highway in New York State. It then ran through the Holland Tunnel into New Jersey. Prior to the building of the tunnel, motorists had to cross the Hudson River on the Weehawken Ferry. The Highway was 64 miles long in New Jersey, passing through Newark, Elizabeth, and Trenton.  It then crossed into Pennsylvania at Morrisville.  The Highway was 350 miles long in Pennsylvania and was mostly comprised of Route 30.

It passed through Philadelphia, Lancaster, York, Gettysburg, Chambersburg and into Pittsburgh.  About 10 years ago, in order to help increase tourism, Pennsylvania made up a special tour. Beginning in Abbottstown (near Gettysburg) and continuing all the way to Irwin (near the Ohio boarder) there were erected old-fashioned gas pumps, painted with scenes of the area in which they stood. Also, on the sides of buildings and barns, beautiful murals were painted. These also depicted scenes of the Highway and the different areas of the state. Maps, indicating locations of the gas pumps and murals were available from the state.

Over a period of two years, we traveled the entire length of Route 30, and photographed all of the pumps and murals, and even found a commemorative box in which to keep all of the photos. If you have a chance to travel Route 30, or a portion of it, you will enjoy the beautiful scenery and hopefully most of the pumps and murals are still visible.

By Ken Dages