I feel like a Ramblin’ Man lately. I’ve been driving or flying all over the country and it seems like every time I turn around, there is a Rambler within sight.
It started late in April (when you’re traveling a lot, the exact dates get cloudy) when I went to Hartford, Wis., for a meeting of the Wisconsin Society of Automotive Historians. The meeting took place at the Wisconsin Automobile Museum (www.wisconsinautomuseum.com) and there in the Nash Club section of the museum was the 1902 Rambler runabout that my former boss and founder of Old Cars Weekly Chester L. Krause had donated to the museum years ago.
The following weekend was the Jefferson Swap Meet at the Jefferson Country Fairgrounds in Jefferson, Wis. When we arrived we drove to Mike Spangler’s parking lot there and couldn’t resist taking another peek at his AMC Museum. His enormous collection of Nash-Rambler-Jeffrey-AMC stuff includes a replica of the ’02 Rambler runabout. It was like seeing double!
Next we traveled to the Lake of the Ozarks for John Kelsey’s (www.kelseytire.com) 70th birthday open house. John and his wife Jan unlocked to doors of the Kelsey Museum, which dates back to 1954 and hasn’t been open since 1994. Part of the collection is a huge 1912 Rambler with a 5 x 5 four-cylinder engine that cost $3,500 when it was new. It is just about the direct opposite of the 1902 Rambler runabouts.
Then, on the way back from Missouri, up close to the Iowa border, my son Jesse and I spotted several old cars sitting alongside the Interstate. Since Jesse is looking for a cheap old car within his budget, we hopped off the highway to see a ’58 Chevy wagon and—you guessed it—a Rambler wagon of about the same vintage. As usual, the asking price written on the window was way more than Jesse had in his wallet.
We did not buy a car for him on that trip, but I have a sneaky suspicion we may just find a car he can afford soon. And I would not be at all surprised if it turns out to be a Rambler. After all, we are Ramblin’ men.