Real-World History with the Pullman

When I was a little guy living in Summit Hill, Pennsylvania – in the heart of the anthracite coal region – back in the 70s, I’d see three bookshelves in our home stocked with the Encyclopedia Americana and there’s a good chance that I’d sit on the floor and start reading.  There were pictures of all of the presidents – in order and in one place!  The history of baseball?  It was in there.  Why do I love the Atlantic Puffin to this day?  The Encyclopedia Americana had pages of data and photos of every known bird.  [You have to see the Puffin.  You’ll love it immediately.]  It’s fair to say that when the Encyclopedia Americana Yearbook arrived at the front door, it didn’t stay in the cardboard packaging too long. [Home-delivered encyclopedias?  Yes.]  That young chap with the mass of curly hair atop the round head was the rennaissance kid of 1979. :-) 

The coverage of automotive history was extensive and it was dominated by the Big 3 - Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler.  I learned that dozens of automakers closed their doors after the assembly line efficiency and resultant price points of Ford changed the industry.  Later, the Great Depression shook out most of those that stood on the fringe. 

One automaker that didn’t make the first cut was the York Motor Car Company.  With my 43 years on Earth – and armed with all of that encyclopedia time – I had never laid eyes on one.  When the 1911 YMCC Pullman rolled into our gathering on Saturday, the eyes were wide and the smiles were big.  {After scanning the remainder of this week's newsletter, settle into page 12 to see the Pullman for yourself.]

In speaking with the driver, I learned that the Pullman was rolling out of York, Pennsylvania until the doors were closed in 1917.  Now that was big news.  Just up the road, our York featured an automaker?  Well, after digging into the York Daily Record website, I learned that there were 17 automakers in the York area and YMCC was the big guy on the block.  Imagine this.  The original Pullman had 6 wheels, with the wheels being equidistant from front to back and the power being driven to the middle wheels.  “MWD”?  Middle-wheel drive?  Crazy?  Yes.  There was a bit of an issue cresting hills, which could cause the corner wheels to lift.  The middle wheels were quickly removed for upcoming models but the company never truly gained traction.       

What I may have missed via the Encyclopedia Americana was delivered to my home away from home with a real-world experience.  The sights, the smells, the sounds, the owner’s stories and the driving experience…that’s what brings the young boy out of a 43-as-of-yesterday car dude.  We just never know what we’ll see.     

As a closer, welcome to fall!  It’s football, it’s foliage and since 2012, it has been about family and friends on a Saturday morning in Hunt Valley.  Enjoy your day and see you down the road!

Historic...and then not so much...

Starting this month, the Maryland MVA has been contacting the registrants of historic vehicles via e-mail.  Just in case you missed it, here is the e-mail in its entirety…

Subject: Important information about Maryland registered historic vehicles

Dear Historic Vehicle Owner,

As the owner of a historic vehicle, we want to make you aware of legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly that goes into effect on Saturday, October 1, 2016. It is important to know that this legislation will impact how historic vehicles may be operated.

Effective October 1, 2016, a Maryland registered historic vehicle may no longer be used for transportation to and from employment, school, or for commercial purposes.

In addition, historic vehicles with a model year of 1986 or newer may be subject to safety equipment repair orders issued at roadside by law enforcement.

Thank you for your compliance with this new Maryland law.

 Let’s bring 2 ends together.  Why do a few people have a beef with the legislation?  Here’s the current language at www.mva.maryland.gov… 

To be registered as a historic vehicle (class L), your vehicle must be a passenger vehicle, motorcycle or truck (with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less): be 20 calendar years old or older and must not have been substantially altered, remodeled or remanufactured from the manufacturers original design.

A vehicle registered as historic cannot be used for general daily transportation, or primarily for the transportation of passengers or property on highways. It can only be used in exhibitions, club activities, parades, tours, occasional transportation and similar uses. A trailer does not qualify for historic registration.

 When you think ‘historic car’, our minds go straight to what surrounds us on Saturday mornings in Hunt Valley.  Maybe think about the ’70 Chevelle, the ’52 Olds, the ’65 Jaguar XKE or the ’87 Grand National GNX.  Since autos with historic tags are expected to be driven less, the tags cost less.  I’ll lean on a former car of mine to display where the system may be abused.  If my ’96 Chevy Cavalier was still alive today, it would be 20 years old.  Maybe it’s sole purpose is as a high-mileage commute machine.  That workhorse - with a historic tag attached – goes outside of the state’s intent. 

 

There is some resistance whenever someone is told to pay more money and that’ll happen when the system abusers go back to traditional tags.  Generally, our historics are limited in use unless it’s a road rally regular…and that classifies as a club activity so you’re covered.  Will you get busted for driving your classic convertible to work on consecutive sunny days?  Doubt it.  This looks like a shakedown on those automobiles that aren’t quite historic.

Tri-State, Old-School Clubs & Utah Meets Maryland

Back in the day, about 15 years ago, a group of friends and myself started a car club.  This was before the advent of Facebook so we ‘met each other’ on a car message board (like some clubs still do) that focused on the car we had in common – the 2000 Toyota Celica.  This was back in my Delaware days and Philadelphia and much of Jersey were within a reasonable driving distance.  Since the message board’s owner was also from Delaware, our group was from the ‘Tri-State’…no offense to the much more well-known NYC Tri-State area. :-)  Our big seasonal gatherings were in Seaside Heights, New Jersey…well before MTV made Seaside Heights famous again with “Jersey Shore”.  We made a website.  We had photoshoots under the Philly skyline.  We’d ruin a kitchen oven in a northern New Jersey home during the process of heating headlights to open them for paint.  Good times.  Good memories.

Our college-age enthusiasts may now wonder how it was all done before social media.  We’d text on our flip phones and depart with the old fold-up map because the car didn’t have navigation.  That’s my version of ‘old-school’.  Walking around our gathering on Saturday mornings, I have conversed with a few groups of self-proclaimed old-timers that started their car clubs decades before the internet.  There may have been a flyer or a mailed newsletter but much of the word was spread at the club meeting, seeing the buddies at the corner bar or by ‘getting on the horn’.  For the youngsters, that was the wired home telephone. :-) 

Fast forward to 2016.  Facebook can be a game changer.  It makes mass communication a breeze. [Running up long-distance charges to talk to the club is a thing of the past.]  It also allows for the word to reach unexpected regions of the world.  I still cannot believe that Hunt Valley Horsepower has a small following in West Virginia…let alone California…let alone England. 

Well, that’s brings us to Utah.  The photo above was posted to the Hunt Valley Horsepower Fan Page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/HuntValleyHorsepower) on April 16, 2015.  On August 30, 2016, a young man by the name of Chance Evans saw that photo and his memories rushed back.  He posted to the page that he’d love to find the present owner.  Back in Utah, his father had built and painted that truck.  Sadly, 20 years ago, Chance’s father passed away.  This truck was a living tie to his father.  

After posting the photo to our local Facebook page, leads came from all directions.  Community member Carl Galler came to the rescue 4 days ago.  Its just happens that a Marylander purchased the truck on eBay prior to the owner entering assisted living.  Contact info has been exchanged.  Utah to Maryland…and back again?  Chance would love to buy his dad’s old truck back.  The internet can be a wonderful place.  It can make our automotive communities stronger and it can make what would seem impossible and turn it into a miracle.  We’re in the middle of our own reality show.  Will he sell?  Stay tuned!