Old Cars is turning 50. In honor of 50 years of the privilege of bringing the old cars hobby to our valued and faithful readers, Old Cars will revisit 50 of our past featured cars in 50 days, to commemorate the half-century of Old Cars. Here's to fifty more years of Old Cars!
DAY FIVE: 1910 Maxwell Q-2 Surrey
Vern Campbell hadn't seen the 1910 Maxwell when a trio of sisters contacted him and informed they needed to sell the car. Their late father had owned the nearly century-old car for many years, but after his passing there was nobody left to care for the venerable brass era machine, and certainly no one to get it ready for the big Maxwell Centennial celebration that Campbell was helping organize in New Castle, Ind.
That was 12 years ago, and Campbell still seems a little perplexed at how things turned out. The 82-year-old Milan, Mich., resident is the keeper of the Maxwell Registry and a great story teller who likes to poke fun at himself. The tale of how he adopted his gorgeous 1910 Q-2 Surrey fills the bill on all accounts.
“At the time we were planning the Centennial we took the names of everybody we had in the registry and sent out a letter of interest, and I got a letter from these three daughters who had owned it,” he recalls. “Daddy owned it and Daddy died quite a few years ago and the mother had also died and they wanted to settle the estate and none of the three children had any interest in the car … One of them wrote me and said they had the car and it was for sale and I wrote back and said, “If you can get the thing to the centennial in New Castle I promise you won’t take it home, somebody will buy it … They said that was impossible and that it hadn’t run in years yak, yak, yak … “So I had the big decision to make. The car was in Terra Haute and I made the decision to go down and look at it, and of course that was a mistake. I took a couple of guys with me and I was hemming and hawing and finally one of them said, ‘Damn Vern, just buy it!’”
To this day, Campbell insists he didn’t buy the 1910, it just “followed me home.” Of course, he says the same thing about some of his other cars: a 1908 Maxwell, a 1911 Maxwell, 1918 Model T Ford, and a 1924 Buick. Indeed, old cars seem to follow the affable Campbell home, and then they don’t leave.
“I’ve never sold an antique car that I’ve restored,” he says. “I’m just not in the [hobby] for that.”
The 1910 Q-2 had been restored some time in the 1960s and was by no means a basket case, but it needed a lot of work to live up the vision that Campbell had for the car. That dream meant having everything correct and as close as he could make it to factory-original. Of course, when you’re dealing with an antique orphan from the Brass Era, finding parts in any condition is a daunting task. Finding specific parts for a specific car that can be used in a high-end restoration can border on impossible, even for a guy as connected and immersed in the Maxwell community as Campbell.
“If you are used to Fords and Model T’s, which I am, you can go out and buy anything you want. It’s all over the place at every swap meet,” he notes. “You get into a Maxwell, there weren’t that many to begin with, and you subtract their age, all the way back to 1910, a century ago, and those parts just aren’t laying out there for you. … “As frustrating as it is, that’s part of the mystique of restoring these automobiles.”
To learn more about Campbell's Maxwell <CLICK HERE>
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