Old cars on display for Spring Festival at Henry Horton

Friday, April 18, 2014

By Karen Hall


Saturday's weather was perfect for a display of Model T and Model A Fords at Henry Horton State Park, in conjunction with the first ever Spring Festival.

Twenty-two cars showed up, and park officials have already asked if they will come back in the fall for the Step Back in Time Festival.

Loyd Wortham was there with a 1930 Model A Sports Coupe he's had for 14 years. Wortham says he drives the car "a lot."

"It will go 50," he said. "I just take my time -- it's old, like me."

Wortham is trying to form a Model A club here.

James Smith of Laws Hill brought his 1929 Model A Business Coupe, and explained how it differs from the sports coupe: it has a window into the passenger compartment, instead of an S on the outside, and has a trunk instead of a rumble seat.

Smith has only had this car for three or four months; it came here from Texas on a trailer. His whole family has old cars, and played a big part in getting the show organized.

This was done with phone calls, mailed flyers, and online. Cars came from as far away as Lebanon and Murfreesboro.

Bob and Brenda Vea of Lewisburg didn't bring a Ford, they brought a 1903 curved dash Oldsmobile.

It's the most recent in a long line of old cars that Bob Vea has owned. He found it in Wisconsin about 12 years ago, "in bad shape." Since then he's spent a lot of time and money fixing it up. With a car this old, a lot of the parts have to be made by hand.

They only live six miles from the park, so the Veas drove there at 25 mph. Since the car is open, "it gets a little cool," Bob Vea exclaimed, but they have a thick blanket to keep them warm.

Bob Vea knows a lot about Oldsmobile history, and said his curved dash was the first mass-produced car, starting in 1901, when 425 were sold for $650 each.

Ransom E. Olds had been building cars since 1897 and, according to Wikipedia, invented the first automotive assembly line. This is often credited to Henry Ford, but Ford was the first to manufacture cars on a moving assembly line, a crucial distinction for an automotive historian.

Also seen at the park was another, even older mode of transportation: Tom Shattuck of Chapel Hill, riding his penny-farthing bicycle. He built it 27 years ago, a replica of an 1885 model, and has been riding it hard ever since. Unlike the modern bicycle, there is no chain drive, no coasting, and no brakes. The wheels are solid rubber -- his are "carriage rubber," made for him by a Mennonite near Lawrenceburg.

Shattuck rides to Ethridge every Fourth of July, does some fundraising rides, and even rides to Nashville. The next ride he is dreaming of is a ride all the way across England, from the Irish Sea to the English Channel. He's already planned how to get the bike there: put it on a pallet and send it by UPS.