By Donald Wittkowski
Roger Anderson spent three years searching for the car he wanted, a 1929 Ford Model A four door.
When he finally found one, in Buffalo, N.Y., it was being auctioned off online and about 20 people were bidding on it.
“My wife said, ‘Whatever you want,’” Anderson recalled of his desire to bid on the car. “So I did. I hit ‘click’ and I bought it.”
On Saturday, Anderson brought his black Model A to the Jersey Cape Region Antique Automobile Club of America show in Ocean City, giving spectators a glimpse of the era when Al Capone was king of the Chicago mob, Herbert Hoover was president and America was just entering the Great Depression.
Anderson, 49, of Elmer, said he paid $10,000 for the car three years ago. In 1929, a brand new Model A, depending on the body style and features, could be purchased for as little as $500, according to historic automobile websites.
Anderson has had his 34-horsepower car up to about 50 mph, but at that speed, the front end gets a bit shaky, he noted. It is far more comfortable at a cruising speed of about 40 mph.
Anderson sometimes uses the car to pick up his 7-year-old son, Spencer, from school. Spencer gets a kick out of blowing the horn, which makes an old-fashioned ah-ooo-ga sound.
“I love it because it’s an original car and has a big, old horn,” Spencer said.
“I’m surprised my son hasn’t worn out the horn because he likes to blow it all the time,” Anderson said, laughing.
The Model A, in beautiful condition, was one of the oldest vehicles on display at the vintage car show. Now in its 62nd year, the show featured about 150 classic cars and trucks on the grounds of the Ocean City Tabernacle, followed by a parade on the Boardwalk.
“It’s a really good location. We also get a really good mix of cars, which is neat,” Dave Blyler, the Jersey Cape Region Antique Automobile Club of America president, said while explaining the show’s success over so many years.
Spectators were able to savor historic American and foreign cars. Among them, there were classic Fords and Packards from the 1920s and ’30s, big-finned Cadillacs from the 1950s and the muscle cars from the 1960s and ’70s.
A light blue, 1956 Oldsmobile 88 caught the eye of car buff Jim Anderson, 77, an East Lansing, Mich., resident who was vacationing in Ocean City for a family reunion.
“The car was manufactured in my hometown of East Lansing. I’m happy to see that,” he said.
Next to the Olds 88 was a 1929 Ford Model A Tudor. Anderson said he learned how to drive a Ford Model T, the predecessor to the Model A, at the Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo, Mich.
“You drive it with levers and shifters,” he explained. “It’s a lot different from the cars of today. It’s somewhat similar to tractors.”
While the 1920s-era cars at the show represented a dramatic contrast from modern day driving, they were nowhere near as odd as what was thought to be the oldest automobile on display Saturday, a 1910 steam-powered Stanley Model 60 owned by Norman Schaut, of Linwood.
Schaut, 84, who has owned the Stanley for 50 years, bought it when it was in decrepit condition. He had help from acclaimed car restorers Tom Marshall, of Yorklyn, Del., and the late Ralph Buckley, of Absecon, in bringing it back to its former glory.
“I worked right along with them,” Schaut said of the car’s restoration.
Schaut said he paid only a couple hundred dollars to buy the Stanley when he found it in “shambles” in a barn in Bridgewater, Mass.
“I fell in love with it,” he said.
Schaut is well known in South Jersey as the former promoter of the Atlantique City Antiques & Collectibles Show in Atlantic City.
His antique Stanley car runs on steam produced by a boiler. Schaut said it will literally run out of steam if the car cruises along at top speed, around 65 to 70 mph, and the boiler can’t keep up with the power demands.
When the car gets rolling, it makes a distinctive hissing sound. Schaut has a New Jersey historic license plate on the car with the letters “SHHHHH,” a loose representation of the way steam sounds when it is released.
The Stanley drew plenty of admiring looks from the car show spectators. Asked what kind of reaction he gets from fellow motorists when he has the Stanley out on the road, Schaut paused for a moment and then joked, “Who’s the lunatic?”