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

1966 BMW R60/2

Bob Hobaugh bought his 1966 BMW R60/2 motorcycle in 2013 from Richard A. Reinhold, a master automobile restorer and former member of the Ontelaunee Club.  Richard’s late wife, Gladys, originally owned the BMW and rode it regularly. She belonged to the Motor Maids and the Garden Spot Motorcycle Club. Known for riding with her husband, sons and daughter, Gladys took one memorable trip without the family according to Richard. She accompanied many Harley-Davidson riders on this BMW from Reinholds, Lancaster County, to California and back. The BMW completed the run with one incident, that being a flat tire (which Gladys fixed). None of the Harley-Davidsons made it to California and only one made it as far as Arizona.

The California trip highlights BMW’s reputation for durability and smoothness. Manufactured with air-cooled, horizontally-opposed cylinders and a driveshaft, this motorcycle followed that engineering design used in the first BMW made in 1923, known as the R32, and in most BMWs manufactured between the R32 and the R60/2. The BMW is designed to have a sidecar:  it has three threaded shafts for attachment and an adjustment on the triangular front forks to decrease wheelbase for turning with a sidecar. Those Earles Forks, named for their English designer, Ernest Earles, worked well with sidecars because they do not have heavy dive from use of the front brake. This design was well- suited to post-war Germany where automobiles were prohibitively expensive.

BMW manufactured the R60 from 1956 through 1960 and the more powerful R60/2 from 1960 to 1969, a period when American, and especially British and Japanese motorcycles, were lighter and accelerated better.  This BMW lost market share to these more powerful motorcycles. In 1966, a new BMW R60/2 cost $1,288. That was expensive for a mere 594 cubic centimeter displacement engine with 30 horsepower. The faster 1966 Honda CB 450 Black Bomber with 43 horsepower cost only $1,000 and a 1966 Triumph Bonneville 650 with 46 horsepower cost $1,309. A 1966 Harley-Davidson FLH Electra Glide with a 74 cubic inch, 60 horsepower “shovelhead” engine cost only $1,610. Resulting sales for the BMW R60 and R60/2 series during 14 years of production reached only 20,133 units.

Bob learned from BMW Group Archiv in Munich that the BMW arrived at its United Sates importer in November 1966 with a bench seat. The Reinhold family had installed correct after-market parts: a Wixom faring and saddlebags, a single Denfeld driver’s seat and a single Denfeld passenger seat. Bob had all non-authorized accessories removed, braking and electrical systems restored and the power components tuned. The motorcycle has been judged in the “original” class and received its Junior First Award in 2016 and Senior Award in 2018 from the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. Bob rides this BMW to shows, principally Das Awkscht Fescht , Duryea Day, Oley and Kutztown Kruizz.  Each such ride in 2017 and 2018 was through the rain which is why Bob always brings a change of socks and jeans.

More about the R60 can be found in Danny Liska’s Two Wheels to Adventure(Alaska to Argentina by Motorcycle – Bigfoot1),  and in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Accompanying this article are pictures of the BMW as Gladys Reinhold owned it and in its present condition. With this machine, Bob also purchased from Richard Reinhold his own 1967 BMW R60/2, bearing a serial number approximately 800 units following the 1966 model. That story will come later.

Bob Hobaugh

Ontelaunee Region Car Feature – 1957 Ford Thunderbird

Cars are vehicles for travel and vehicles for bringing people together. You might remember this 1957 Thunderbird when it appeared at the 50th annual Das Awkscht Fescht in 2013, owned by Benjamin Koch, our then Ontelaunee Club President.  Ben drove the Thunderbird for travel only once but he sure used it to get to know people. A “trailer queen,” this Thunderbird received a terrific frame-off restoration and won nearly every important award given by the Antique Automobile Club of America (“AACA”) and the Vintage Thunderbird Club International (“VTCI”). More than the awards, this car gave Ben the reward he sought for years:  the pride of ownership.

Ben owned and operated Honda Kawasaki of Berks on the North Fifth Street Highway in Reading. While motorcycles were his passion, the car pictured on his office wall from 1980 to 1999 was a green 1957 Ford thunderbird. Ben had a passion for speed –  drag racing Harley-Davidsons in the early 1960s and Kawasakis in the 1990s (Pro Super Bike National Champion in 1999). But his wife, Barbara, reminds us it was the Thunderbird on his wall that kept Ben’s car interest.

In 1997, Ben began to realize that dream when he bought a 1957 azure blue Thunderbird in Lynchburg, Virginia. Azure blue has a hint of green and the car came with a white convertible top. The 1957 is Ben’s favorite among the “baby birds” of 1955-1957 because it has a longer trunk in which the spare tire is hidden and a 312 cubic inch engine instead of the 292 Y-block of 1955 and 1956.  Ben’s first baby bird had an automatic transmission, but he preferred a manual shifter.

In 2001, Ben bought another 1957 Thunderbird in starmist blue with a matching hardtop and a navy convertible top, our subject car, at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. This car had a 312 cubic inch engine, four-barrel carburetor and a three-speed manual transmission with overdrive shifted by a floor-mounted stick. It was in very good condition, slightly better than the azure blue model already in the Kochs’ garage. The two competed once at a Schuylkill County show and neither won because they split the votes. Ben sold the azure blue Thunderbird in 2002and focused on the starmist blue car.

Ben determined to perfect the starmist Thunderbird and brought it to Jeff Ludwig in Denver, Pennsylvania, for a frame-off restoration. Jeff gapped and painted the body panels, and detailed the drivetrain and interior with new old stock parts. Tom McMichael of the Ontelaunee Club straightened and finished the stainless steel trim. Jeff and Tom completed the restoration in 14 months. Ben showed the completed car at Duryea Days in 2004 where this writer met Ben and marveled at the restoration, saying that “this car needs to be seen.” This was the one time Ben drove the car at a show, braving gravel roads.

Ben won his first AACA junior in 2004 at Ashboro, NC, and his first senior in 2005 at Greensburg, PA. In between the junior and senior awards, your writer brought the car to attention of fellow Selection Committee members of the Concours d’Elegance of the Eastern United States. Ben, Barb and the 1957 Thunderbird came to that Concours in 2005 where the car received its first Star Award (best in class). After winning again at the Grand National at Northglenn, CO, in 2005 and its first grand national at the Grand National in Dover, DE, in 2006. It received many Repeat Preservation awards.

Ben and Barb took it to a variety of Thunderbird shows. The Thunderbird took its Formal First award at the VTCI show in Lancaster in 2004, a senior Formal First Place award at the VTCI show in 2007 held at Bethlehem, and Primary Division First Place and Best of Show at the VTCI show in 2009. Ben is most proud of the trophy received in 2010 for the Best of Show at the Buckingham Concours. Your writer is also proud of the second Star Award given to the Thunderbird at the Concours d’Elegance of the Eastern United States in 2011.

The Thunderbird was a vehicle for friendship. Ben, Barb, your writer and wife, Florita, had a great time at the Diamond (75th) AACA Celebration in Louisville, KY, in 2010. The Thunderbird showed well while we travelled the Ohio River on a paddlewheel boat, toured the best restaurants and learned that southern cemeteries are tourist destinations with magnificent statuary, including Colonel Sanders’ memorial. I also had the honor of accompanying Ben and his brother, Ted, when the Thunderbird sold at the Mecum Auction in Harrisburg in 2014 to a Ford car dealer. The Thunderbird now shows at a car museum near Fort Worth, TX.

Ben and Barb are true Ontelaunee motorheads. They like Fords; they still own a 1956 Victoria and a 1966 Thunderbird and are always looking for another 1957 Thunderbird. But Barb drives a Nissan and Ben will always tell you about motorcycles and DeSotos. Together they have ridden motorcycles around the country, camping early during their marriage but later showing cars and staying in motorhomes and hotels. Accompanying this article are two pictures of the 1957 Thunderbird in starmist blue, during and after restoration.

Ben and Barb Koch

My ’48 Packard Sedan

I purchased my 1948 Packard Sedan at the last spring Hershey, in April of 1999. I was torn between the Packard and a Cadillac. My then wife, Fran, nudged me toward the Packard. It had been owned by a physician in Kennett Square and was being sold by his nephew to settle the doctor’s estate. It was being stored in a garage in York where I was able to leave it until fall. Fran and I drove from our home in Bowmansville to York to pick up the Packard. I put a small amount of fuel in the carburetor and it started right up. We were able to drive it back to Bowmansville. I was surprised how well it rode and handled. She cruised home like a dream.  I drove her around the neighborhood a while before I started working on her. She was dark blue originally and not in bad condition. I then started taking her apart. I purchased the material for the interior from Bill Hirsch Automotive Products of Newark, New Jersey, where I found the perfect match of color and pattern. I then took the seats and panels to Zimmerman Coach Trimming in New Holland where John Zimmerman installed the upholstery.

I started to strip the paint down to bare metal when my wife became ill. This put everything on hold for a few years. Then my wife, Fran, passed away and I thought about selling the car “as is” because I didn’t have the desire to finish her. Then a year later I met the woman who would become my new wife, Barbara, who persuaded me not to sell but instead to finishing the restoration. So I got back to work preparing the body prior to painting. I had her painted in our shop at Ludwig’s Custom Auto in Denver, Pennsylvania, where Jeff Ludwig did the painting in late summer of 2009. The roof and trunk lid are painted Egyptian Sand and the bottom is Grenadier Maroon (metallic) which are original 1948 colors and color combination. During the winter of 2009-2010, I completed the Packard wire harness. I finished the trunk rebuilding, cleaning and painting and reinstalled it. I was hoping to get her out on the road in spring 2010.

Well, spring 2010 and 2011 came and went and I still didn’t get her out on the road because there was still a lot of work to do. I started to reinstall the interior. I was glad to have the seat and headliner finished at a shop near home so that they available from a long storage to go back where they belonged. After the seat and headliner were reinstalled, it was time for all the fine details such as putting the glass back and touching up some paint under the car. I then worked on the leaking brakes for a month when in January 2012 I solved the leak problem. I had a friend come in to help me fire up the car for the first time in 12 years. I was very unsure at this point but she fired up just great and with a little fine tuning she purred like a kitten.

On February 25, 2012, a Saturday, I worked up the courage to take her on the road around the neighborhood without my wife knowing.  She was a little upset when I came in and told her what I had done without her. I explained that I didn’t want to get stuck and have her walk home. An hour later I took her on same ride that I took without her.

The Packard showed many times. She debuted at the Packard Banquet on April 14, 2012, at Weavers Market – the first public showing since she was finished. After that she made her way to the Reading Expo on May 19, 2012 where she earned her First Junior in the AACA. Thereafter, she was shown at New Holland and Das Awkscht Fescht in Macungie where she attracted a lot of interest. We attended the Eastern National Meet at Hershey in fall of 2012 where the Packard received an AACA Senior award. We have been to two National Packard Meets where we placed first in our class:  one in Warren, Ohio, and the other in Reading, Pennsylvania in 2015. We participated in the Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance in 2015 where we took “Peoples’ Choice” and “Second Place” in the Packard class. We participated in the Henry Joy Tour with 48 other Packards beginning in Altoona, Pennsylvania, September 11-15, 2017.

Most recently, we attended two AACA Grand National shows: the first in 2016 at Williamsport, Pennsylvania and the other in 2018 at Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where we earned First and Senior Awards.  At both of these Grand Nationals, our car was the point setter in its class. We looked forward to Das Awkscht Fescht in 2018 to show in the Packard display. Ill health kept us away but we are hoping all goes well so that we can attend Das Awkscht Fescht in 2019. Generosity of Ontelaunee organizers resulted in us receiving a Packard dash plaque.  All in all it has been quite a journey with this car and one that we enjoyed!

Tom McMichael