by Jon Battle
The 28th Orphan Car Tour took place on Saturday, June 2 along the winding, scenic back roads of Maryland’s Harford and Baltimore counties.
This year’s Tour was nicknamed “How the Other Half Lives” because the route wove past prosperous estates and horse farms of My Lady’s Manor and Worthington Valley, which lie north of Baltimore.
An all-day downpour had been forecast, but fortunately the rain held off until the tour had almost ended, late in the afternoon.
The day began in Jarrettsville, Maryland, where drivers of 42 cars converged on the Jarrettsville United Methodist Church parking lot starting at 9:30 AM. At least 28 of the autos were vintage “orphans”: antique cars with discontinued marques. The rest were modern automobiles, driven by those concerned about how their old cars might behave in the rain.
Participants greeted one another, registered their cars, and received the printed driving directions that each driver follows at his or her own pace. At 10:45 the cars were released, one by one, onto the tour route. For the next five hours drivers traversed a 30-mile route, making occasional stops at designated places of interest along the way. Among these were Ladew Topiary Gardens, Boordy Vineyards, Oregon Ridge Nature Center, and Prigel’s Creamery, a family farm that serves up outstanding ice cream treats.
Perhaps the most interesting attraction was a private automobile collection. This one is eclectic, containing everything from Model A Fords to 1960’s European and British sports cars, along with some early racing cars. There’s even an Isetta, a Fiat 500 and a customized tow truck nicknamed “Tow-Mater”.
At 4:30 PM, after the driving portion of the tour had ended, a buffet dinner was served at Friendly Farm Restaurant in Upperco, Maryland to a crowd of 64. As is the custom for Orphan Car Tours, the direction sheets had been sprinkled with questions about sights glimpsed along the route, in order to test the observational abilities of drivers and passengers. After the meal, prizes were awarded to those who had answered the most questions correctly. First place went to Randy and Sharon Fryer of Monkton, Md.; second place was awarded to John and Vivian Czajkowski of Odenton, Md.; third place was won by Harley and Carol Smith of Annapolis. This year’s Hard Luck Award went to Tom Cox of Woodstock, Md., whose car stalled while idling in the long line of cars waiting to start the tour. The Long Distance Award was given to Fred and Nina Hammer, who drove their 1966 Mercury Comet Cylone convertible from State College, PA.
Cars taking the tour ranged in model years from 1928 to 1993, with a nice sampling of cars from the ’30’s through the ’60’s. Automotive marques included AMC (AMX, Hornet, Marlin, Rambler), Corvair, DeSoto, Edsel, Henry J, Kaiser, Mercury (Comet and Cougar), Morris, Packard, Plymouth (Valiant), Pontiac, Studebaker (including Hawk and Lark), Terraplane and Triumph. There were also two Hupmobiles – a 1928 from Nevada and a 1933 from New Jersey – whose owners had paused to take in the Orphan Tour on their way to the Hupmobile National Meet in Staunton, Virginia.
The directors of this year’s tour were Ross Miller and Bob Godwin. Ross had laid out several tours in previous years and Bob and his wife Phyllis had been frequent past winners of the “observational” contest. Assisting with the Tour were Harley Smith, Bill and Susan Johnson and Jon Battle. Mike Bianco facilitated one of the stops along the way.
The Orphan Car Tour is an annual event designed to encourage the driving enjoyment of antique “orphans”, which the Tour defines as vehicles at least 25 years old which were produced either by now-defunct manufacturers or by the discontinued divisions of still-existing companies. Each year it moves to a different location in the greater Baltimore- Washington area. It is sponsored by six local chapters or regions of national “orphan” clubs: Mid-Atlantic Packards (a region of The Packard Club); the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club; the Potomac Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club; the Potomac Ramblers (an affiliate of the AMO and AMCRC); the DeSoto Owners Club of Maryland; the Keystone Region Chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club. The Tour maintains a website at www.orphancartour.org/.