Orphan Cars Assemble in Maryland

    The historic, rural area surrounding Williamsport, Maryland was the setting as the 18th annual Orphan Car Tour hit the road on Saturday, June 2.  

    Temperatures in the mid-eighties and sunny skies made for a pleasant late-spring afternoon tour.

     Thirty-five “orphans” were registered for this year’s event, which was subtitled “The Running Bear Run”. 

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Some of the “orphans” at this year’s Tour.

    An “orphan car” is a vehicle manufactured by a company or company division which is no longer engaged in producing vehicles.
 
    As in previous years, drivers were given printed direction sheets to guide them along the sixty-mile route.  The cars were released, one by one, onto the tour route starting at 1 p.m.  It’s an Orphan Tour tradition that the amongst the directions are a series of questions about sights glimpsed along the way, designed to test the observational powers participants;  those answering the most questions correctly, receive recognition at the tour’s end.

    There were three stops along the route:  the car collection of George and Richard Hammond, the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum near Sharpsburg, and the Dam Four Recreational Area along the B & O Canal.

    The tour ended at Byron Memorial Park, where participants posed with their cars next to a majestic antique barn for a keepsake photo.  

    After a buffet-style catered dinner  in one of the park’s open pavilions, participants graded the answers on each other’s direction sheets.  As the correct answers to each question were announced, photos of the clues appeared on a television monitor for all to see.  Additional awards presented included the “hard luck,” “oldest car,” and the “Over Yonder” awards – the last one, an enormous trophy almost four feet high presented by the people of Williamsport to the driver traveling the farthest distance to the Tour.  

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After dinner, participants graded each others’ “test papers” while viewing images of the correct answers on a video.  Drivers and passengers were challenged on the direction sheets to find certain items along the route.

    This year’s crop of orphans included such marques as AMC, Crosley, DeSoto, Frazer, Kaiser, King Midget, Metropolitan, MG, Oldsmobile, Packard and Studebaker.  “Borderline orphans” (which don’t strictly meet the criteria but which were nonetheless welcome additions to the Tour) included a Corvair, Imperial, Continental, Thunderbird and a 1936 Lincoln Model K convertible sedan.  The oldest car driven was a 1929 Studebaker.

    The local coordinator of this year’s event was “Jewells,” owner of Jewells and Jewells Used Appliance Sales in Williamsport, and his wife, Kathy.  The route was laid out by Susan and Bill Johnson, longtime Orphan Tour organizers.  Rich and Debbie Miller provided the keepsake photos of each car.   The tour’s co-sponsors this year were Mid-Atlantic Packards (a region of the Packard Club), The Chesapeake Bay Chapter of  the H-E-T Club, the Potomac Chapter of the Studebaker Driver’s Club, the DeSoto Owners Club of Maryland and the Potomac Ramblers chapter of the AMC Rambler Club.  The Orphan Car Tour is run in a different location in the greater Washington-Baltimore area each year, usually on the first weekend in June.  Its purpose is to encourage the driving enjoyment of antique “orphan” vehicles.  The tour’s organizers maintain an internet Web site at www.orphancartour.org with information on the event.

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