Fall Hershey attendees rewarded with a sunny show day

Early on the field, this 1931 Lincoln Model K with rare custom Murphy Sport Phaeton coachwork offered a preview of what would soon join it on the green.

Early on the field, this 1931 Lincoln Model K with rare custom Murphy Sport Phaeton coachwork offered a preview of what would soon join it on the green.


Story and photos by Angelo Van Bogart

It was a wet one, but for those who held out until show day on Saturday, there was a rainbow of cars at the end of the storm.

Torrential rains beat down on the Antique Automobile Club of America’s Eastern Division National Fall Meet at Hershey, Pa., held Oct. 9-12. The rain began on Oct. 10 and didn’t let up until the evening of Friday, Oct. 11. During that time, many flea market vendors closed shop, and a good number of those left the grounds. With flooded roads caused by the steady rain, car owners prepared to display cars at the Saturday-only show feared the grassy show field would be relegated to the traditional Hershey mud from years gone by.

However, that was not the case, and those owners who displayed their vehicles were rewarded.

When the clouds broke early on show day, the car owners who pulled their cars out of their vending spaces and out of trailers were treated to sunshine. Among those displaying a car at the Hershey show was Old Cars Weekly reader Chuck Larson, who brought a 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta convertible, one of only 458 built from the only year of production.

“My dad bought it in ’68, but I didn’t begin restoring it until 10 years ago,” Larson said. “I was 9 years old when he bought it, and he died five years later.”

During that time, the car sat in the family garage with a blown engine, although Larson’s father had bought another Oldsmobile engine to install in the convertible. Larson said the spare engine was from an older Oldsmobile, so when it came time to put the Fiesta back on the road, the original was rebuilt and re-installed.

Chuck Larson’s one-of-458 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta has been in his family for decades, but the restoration was started just 10 years ago.

Chuck Larson’s one-of-458 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta has been in his family for decades, but the restoration was started just 10 years ago.


Although the Fiesta had come from the Midwest, it was still very solid when it came time to restore the car. It was also very complete; Larson only had to find a wiper arm, which he borrowed from the sedentary Oldsmobile when the wiper on his daily driver needed to be replaced years ago. Due to the Fiesta’s unique wrap-around windshield, other Oldsmobile wipers do not work. Finding a replacement proved very difficult.

Since its restoration has been complete, Larson has enjoyed driving the car around his Union, Mich., home. At Hershey, Larson’s was the only Fiesta on the show field.
The fall Hershey meet draws many rarities, and one of the rarest was the 1948 Keller Super Chief station wagon displayed by Sally Barnett and her son Sam.

Sam’s father had sought a Huntsville, Ala.-built Keller since about 1980 because it was built in the family’s home state, but with only 18 built and three known to still exist, the search was tough. In 1996, they found the example they displayed at the show. Sam’s restoration was so fresh, the paint had barely dried.

“It was put away in 1951,” Barnett said. “We tried to keep it original, but it was too far gone.”

Barnett said his father had restored the Keller’s mechanical components before he died, including the Hercules IX3B engine and three-speed transmission. Two other family friends replaced the wood with original Alabama ash as the only wood that could be saved from the station wagon was the window surrounds and the ceiling. The remaining aluminum body and steel cowl were painted a bright yellow hue.

Keller is probably a new name to most hobbyists. The company was one of several postwar start-ups, although it’s less well-known as Tucker or Kaiser-Frazer. Former Studebaker sales vice-president George D. Keller took over the Dixie Motor Car Co., altered its plans for the existing Bobbi-Kar, and renamed the car Keller. The night before his company was to go public on Wall Street, Keller was found dead in his room. In short order, the company folded with just a few cars built.

Sam Barnett finished the restoration of this very are 1948 Keller Super Chief station wagon just before the show. The car retailed for $895 fob Huntsville, Ala.

Sam Barnett finished the restoration of this very are 1948 Keller Super Chief station wagon just before the show. The car retailed for $895 fob Huntsville, Ala.

Barnett’s car was used by Keller’s West Coast distributor to drum up dealer interest in the Keller, and he clocked 44,000 miles on the car, which also proved its reliability. Although many parts on the Keller were borrowed from the parts bins of other companies (1936 Chevrolet air cleaner, 1946 Olds headlamp bezels, 1947 Studebaker steering wheel, Willys rear end and wheels, etc.), the car had its own body design and a unique, partially rubber “torsilastic” suspension by B.F. Goodrich.

To complete what his father started, Sam Barnett took one year off of work to restore the Keller and a 1927 Marmon.

“For five years, the car looked at me angrily,” Barnett joked. “I finished the restorations within a half hour of each other. My goal was to get a [AACA] Senior award with one of them, hopefully this one.”

Although the largest, Fall Hershey is just one of the many events held by the AACA throughout the country. Learn more at www.aaca.org or by calling 717-534-1910.

More visual highlights from Hershey…


If they weren’t in such usable condition, these Shelby GT-500KR fenders would have made great garage art.



It was rough, but it was a rare Wisconsin-built Kissel. Old Cars Weekly columnist Bob Tomaine contemplates the body-less 1924 model, which featured a rebuilt engine and a complete chassis with some sheet metal bits for $23,500.



The biggest surprise behind this 1956 Ford Customline Tudor’s grille was a rare McCulloch-supercharged V-8 engine. It was for sale, offering the next owner the chance to have the only one at the next Crown Victoria Association meet.



Pam McCauley’s stunning 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport clung on to the muscle car era with bright yellow paint and heavy graphics on an aggressively styled body, but used a 351-cid V-8 with 2-venturi fuel delivery for power, rather than a monster-sized V-8.



Poring over with patina, Chris M. Paulsen’s 1911 Paige-Detroit Surrey was powered onto the field by a four-cylinder.



Presumably equally rare in the United States as its Japanese homeland, this 1964 Nissan Cedric offered a glimpse at pre-Asian-invasion offerings.



A stately original in the Historic Perservation of Original Features class, this 1930 Willys-Knight had its hood side lifted to display its novel sleeve-valve engine.



Most work trucks were used up and left outside to further weather, but not this four-cylinder 1919 Mack moving van. Vibrant and incredibly original graphics of the unrestored truck owned by Keith Ernst made it stand out and apart on the field.



A serviceman who went to Vietnam left behind this six-cylinder 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air coupe when his helicopter went down in 1963. It has been beautifully preserved as a testament to the fallen soldier and was displayed by current owner Robert Sekelsky in the Historic Preservation of Original Features class with 21,000 miles.



The original owners of this 1964 Buick Wildcat were a father-daughter team. He wanted a dual-quad 425-cid V-8; she wanted a cloth bench seat. The product is one beautifully and unusually optioned muscle machine well-preserved by current owner Daniel Kennedy.



Just three Mohs Safarikars were built in 1972, and one of them flashed its “Transformer”-like features on the 2013 Hershey show field, to the delight of spectators.



A special Hershey treat was unwrapped when Valpey’s 1930 Packard 734 roadster was joined on the showfield by a 1930 734 speedster counterpart.



Owner Leaonard Jarvis’ Gatsby-era 1923 Kissel Gold Bug Speedster added six-cylinder excitement to the field.



Among a sea of 1950s and 1960ss Cadillac parts rested this very rare 1956 Cadillac station wagon built by Hess & Eisenhardt and brought to this year’s Fall Hershey by Marc Tuwiner of Annapolis Classic Cars.



Car-truck hybrids had been around for decades in Australia before the El Camino and Ranchero; proof came to Hershey via this 1952 Chevrolet Ute.



A stunning 1937 Lincoln convertible coupe silently glided onto the field where it joined a host of other “capital C” Classics.



Two 1937 Chevrolet convertible coupes were among the early arrivals on the Hershey show field early Saturday morning.



Sporting a custom-built body by Packard, this 1930 734 roadster owned by Robert W. Valpey was devilishly handsome and rare.



Parked just outside the Red Field swap meet, this solid-looking 1937 Cord 812 phaeton project offered a tempting $11,500 price tag. It appears at some point, the 812 had been converted to rear-wheel drive.



Packards are plentiful at Hershey, and one of the many at the 2013 event was this drivable, “barn fresh” 1930 Packard 733 coupe at $37,500.



Classic-era good were this vendor’s specialty: those are Woodlight headlamps at left and E&J headlamps at right. The E&J headlamps were new-old-stock and priced at $2,250 for the pair.



Only in Hershey can one find a raked 1928-’30 Auburn Speedster windshield frame.



Missing part of its front floor but little else, this Texas-raised 1957 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 88 Holiday Coupe sported just 52,000 miles. The runner was priced at $8,500 in the swap meet.




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