One of the saddest things we had to do to move to Alaska was sell our 1928 Model A Ford. We sold it in 1980 when we moved because we didn’t think we could drive it over the mountains to Seattle and the ferry and we didn’t want it to rust in the Southeast Alaska salt damp. So we sold it, and the money we made on the sale paid for the trip to Alaska. Suzi got the car as a teenager and we used it as a mobile unit for KAXE, taking it to county fairs full of old radio equipment salvaged from the WCAL basement at St. Olaf College. I once was pulled over by a highway patrol officer for speeding in a 55 mile an hour zone (the car did not have a good working speedometer). The officer asked me if it was the original engine. I said “yes”. He wanted to see it. I showed it to him. He told me he wasn’t going to give me a ticket because no judge would believe that this car could be going as fast as he clocked me. But he told me to be careful in the future. I was.
So whenever I see old cars I feel a bit wistful, but also happy because someone has taken care of them and saved them from the scrap yard. The person who bought the Ford had the financial and mechanical resources to treat her far better than I.
Napier, New Zealand, has a lot of classic cars from the 30s. Many of these are the same model cars I remember riding in as a kid, built in the decade before I was born. They are part of the Art Deco theme of the city, which was rebuilt in that style after a devastating earthquake in 1931. These art deco buildings are of poured reinforced concrete designed to be both inexpensive and strong enough to withstand future earthquakes. As a result Napier is an Art Deco jewel. The cars give tours of the city and they come out to greet the cruise ships, along with the cars come jazz band playing hits from the 30s. Suzi and I took an hour long tour in the red 1930 Chevy which the dapper person holding the door for us drove. (Third picture in.) I will post pics from that drive and our walk about town in another post.
I mentioned Cuba in the headline. While some of the classic Cuban cars from the 1950s have replacement engines, Napier’s cars from the 1930s claim original engines. The owners were proud to show off their cars and this unique greeting put all of us on the Amsterdam in a good mood.