Gunners Garage

Driving a Prewar Car is an Adventure

A few weeks ago we enjoyed the WPC National Meet in Chicago, but when they tried to give out the award for the prewar car driven the farthest distance, they had to keep lower the miles-driven figure since none of the older cars built before World War II had been driven a long distance. Too bad. This past weekend we drove our 1936 Pontiac Deluxe Six Touring Sedan to the Circus Museum Show in Baraboo and the Botham Vineyards Winery Concours in Barneveld. The car doesn’t go fast (50 mph tops) and it has no blinkers, but we still had a good, fun 400-mile ride.

Unlike some hobbyists, we prefer driving Interstates (because we can get in the right lane and let faster cars pass) and we stuck to I-90 for over half of the trip. On small 2-lane highways, the other motorists tend to get more “pushy.” We have to admit that a few of them tried dumb things, but in an old car, we’re always in “defensive” driving mode.

W also traversed some rural back roads and chugged (very slowly) over a couple of steep hills. It was 85-95 degrees most of the time, but everything worked fine. The fuel pump leaked a bit of gas when we parked on a hill at the show, so we got out the tool kit and tightened the bolt on top of the pump and nothing leaked on the way home. Try that with a modern electric fuel pump that’s leaking!

We saw a few ’50s cars along the way, but where were all the prewar models?


2 thoughts on “Driving a Prewar Car is an Adventure

  1. Chuck Elderton

    Hi John:
    We just returned from a 2,500 mile trip through northern California, Oregon, and southern Washington in our 1931 Ford Phaeton. We belong to a very active MAFCA Chapter here in San Jose and travel with the club as often as possible. About a dozen cars made this tour and a similar number toured to the Boston area last summer.
    I have driven this car about 70k miles over the past nine years and loved every mile. It is my daily driver, work vehicle, and family tourer. There is almost never a problem finding a long distance driver at a Model A meet. Of the 250 or so entrants at the recent Pendleton, Oregon meet 56 were form California, including about 10 from San Diego. The San Diego folks traveled about 500 more miles one way than we did. We drive all roads from interstates to dirt and apply approprite descretion for each. Maybe you can meet up with us in Breckenridge, Colorado in 2009 – one of the premier Model A events…?

  2. John Gunnell

    Chuck –
    It sounds like you had a great time and, of ciourse, I’m aware of the fact that Model A owners tour quite a bit. I guess that’s why there’s a "Model A Driver’s Club" in the Old Cars Weekly club list. In fact, the majority of prewar cars at the Circus World Show in Baraboo were, indeed, Model A (and Model T) Fords.

    So I didn’t mean to slight the prewar car owners who are using their antique cars, but I was trying to inspire a few more hobbyists ti hit the road in their prewar machines. The nice thing about these cars is they literally transport you "back in time" don’t they?


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